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City Council approves zoning amendment in Sterling

Plan Commission working with consultant on entire code

STERLING – The City Council on Monday approved an amendment to the zoning code regarding community residence facilities, but that zoning change is just the tip of the iceberg.

The amendment was written to better accommodate a new CILA home for the developmentally disabled that will be built at the corner of West Lefevre Road and Woodburn Street. CILA homes, by state law, can house no more than eight people and are funded by Medicaid waivers.

City consultant Dustin Wolff, of Mead & Hunt, said the ordinance language was antiquated and needed to better reflect community living uses.

“It’s been 15-plus years that this has been on the books,” Wolff said. “This makes it easier for them to locate within residential districts and look like single-family homes. It was just time to upgrade the code.”

In an effort to stop the piecemeal code improvements, Wolff will be working with the Plan Commission to revise the entire city zoning code, he told the council. The commission will go through all nine chapters, one at a time. The council will then get the drafts, chapter by chapter.

“A comprehensive rewrite of the code will encourage redevelopment, new development, and provide clearer guidelines for land use,” Wolff said.

Mayor Skip Lee voiced two concerns he had about any rewrite process.

“It needs to be simple enough to be easily understood, and whatever is codified should reflect the culture and values of people in Sterling,” Lee said.

He cited the community residence zoning amendment just passed as an example, saying it went from simple to complex.

“The code should address only realistic problems,” Lee said. “I just hope we leave room for common sense.”

More doesn’t necessarily mean difficult, Wolff told the mayor.

“It will include graphics, and businessess appreciate more language if it makes things clearer,” Wolff said.

When asked if signage language would be revisited, Wolff said the commission had already worked on it, and he had “no intention of opening that can of worms.”

The council was told members would have about a month to review each chapter before it came up for action. Alderman Barry Cox suggested that the council have study sessions as part of the process.

Drafts of each chapter will be available on the city’s website and at City Hall.

Also, Twin City Joint Fire Command Chief Gary Cook announced that the fire department has received an Illinois Fire Marshal’s grant for small equipment purchases. The department will use the $20,000 to replace and add portable radios.

The Sterling Fire Department has hired Clark Leidberg from Bensenville to fill one of two open positions. Leidberg is a certified EMT. Two Sterling firefighters have been promoted. Jeremy Billeb, a 12-year veteran, has been elevated to lieutenant, and 20-year firefighter Jason Williamson was promoted to captain.

Marie Rombouts was reappointed for another 4-year term on the Fire Pension Board of Trustees. Marilyn Anderson was given a 3-year term on the Historic Preservation Commission.

Next meeting

The Sterling City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. March 17 at City Hall, 212 Third Ave., on the first floor in the Council Chambers.

Go to or call City Hall at 815-632-6621 for an agenda or more information.

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