Road Work

By Bob Balgemann


BELVIDERE – City officials have found themselves in a Catch 22 situation as they try to help residents on Dalbigne Street solve a drainage problem.

Alderman Clayton Stevens explained the situation to the Committee of the Whole at its May 9 meeting.

“Their problem is that Roosevelt and Dalbigne channel rain water into their yard,” he said in a memo to Mayor Mike Chamberlain and the committee.

The storm that formed the tornado that leveled Fairdale last year brought rainwater within one-half inch of entering their front door, he continued. On occasion, property owner Mike Borowicz’s pickup truck gets stuck in the driveway.

Stevens said the ultimate solution would be to rebuild Dalbigne and Roosevelt with curbs and to install a storm sewer to carry the rainwater away. Since the city budget won’t allow such a project anytime soon, he said Mike and Julia Borowicz would like to improve their driveway, which is gravel with a thin coat of blacktop.

The alderman added that the previous property owner “hired a gypsy outfit to install it.”

As they sought help for such a project, he said contractors told the couple they would not blacktop the driveway and warranty the work. So, the owners want to install a gravel driveway until the city fixes Dalbigne and Roosevelt, to channel the rainwater away.

Stevens asked the committee to recommend approval of allowing the gravel driveway, which would be blacktopped once the city fixes the drainage problem.

There was considerable discussion May 9, with no solution being reached.

City Attorney Mike Drella explained the city was in a Catch 22 situation.

Drella said council can’t approve a variance. Council would have to amend the zoning code with a text amendment, which would require a public hearing before the planning and zoning commission, the committee of the whole and then two readings before city council.

“That would take some time,” he said.

In addition, such a change would “allow gravel driveways in most every residential district in the city. You have a homeowner facing a difficult problem and the (city) council in a difficult position,” he said.

Public Works Director Brent Anderson said the lack of storm drains on the north side of town compounded the problem. A measure of help could be provided by doing some grading near the driveway, he said.

Alderman Clint Morris asked if the city could issue a permit for a blacktop surface that won’t be put in for three-to-four years.

Drella said he would like time to research the matter.

“It only came up Friday,” three days before the committee meeting.

Anderson agreed, saying he probably could come up with a few alternatives for the property owner and council to consider.

Temporary chairman

Mayor Chamberlain was unable to attend the committee meeting, making it necessary to appoint a temporary chairman to run the proceedings.

It was moved to appoint Alderman Morris, but he declined to accept the nomination. He did so, he said, because Mayor Chamberlain does some things that he does not agree with.

“Really, I don’t want to be part of the administration,” he said.

City Clerk Shauna Arco said that night’s meeting was to consider public works and building, planning, and zoning issues. She suggested either Alderman John Sanders or Alderman Ron Brooks be nominated as chairman.
A motion to appoint Sanders and it passed, 10-0.

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