By Bob Balgemann
BELVIDERE – City officials knew the time was coming when they wouldn’t be sharing a planning department with Boone County.
The beginning of the end came Feb. 17, when the county board voted 8-4 to give 90 days’ notice that it would be terminating that longstanding, intergovernmental agreement.
Knowing that eventuality, Mayor Mike Chamberlain said Feb. 19 that the city has a contingency plan, which is being implemented. He wouldn’t be specific, other than to say there would be more on that at the March 7 city council meeting.
Of the county board decision, he said, “It’s a personnel issue. I think it’s a bad decision.”
“It’s a leadership issue on the county board,” he added. “It’s a shame to end a 30-year relationship. But we will go forward. This doesn’t hurt us. It hurts them because (now) they don’t have a planner.”
However, it will bring change to city hall. Interim Planning Director Kathy Miller will retire in the coming weeks, meaning the city has to put out a job description for the vacancy.
The planning department team also includes associate planner Gina DelRose and administrative assistant Catherine Crawford. Both are county employees.
Mayor Chamberlain declined to comment on whether DelRose would be asked to join city staff.
His overall observation was, “We will continue to serve our residents.”
Belvidere resident and planning commission member Andy Racz addressed the county board on Feb. 17, urging members not to terminate the agreement to share the planning department.
He said planners advise both the city and county on what is legal and good planning.
It’s “one-stop shopping,” he said and provides a more unified approach for both the city and county.
In addition, with regionalism the new buzz word, he asked, “Why does the county want to withdraw from this planning department? How does that benefit the citizens of Boone County? I don’t know.”
“Continuity is important,” the former Belvidere alderman said. “We don’t understand where you’re going.”

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