Building codes put pause in Fairdale's rebuilding effort - – Rockford’s News Leader

Building codes put pause in Fairdale's rebuilding effort

FAIRDALE, Ill. (WREX) - It's been more than a month since a tornado touched down in Fairdale. And while residents are ready to start the rebuilding process, a lot have had to put a pause on their work. It's all because of what the tornado uncovered after it tore through. 

On April 9, Ronnie Hopper, his wife and 86-year-old mother-in-law were huddled in the stone basement as a tornado tore through their town. 

"Just like that it was all over with. It took everything and left us with nothing," Hopper says. 

That's how almost all of the homes are in Fairdale. There are roughly 90 homes in the town; 70 were destroyed. Hopper wants to rebuild, but the issue with his house and most of the others is they were built around the turn of the century, before most of the codes and zoning laws were in place. Where Hopper's house is now is too close to the road by today's standards. 

"It can stay if it stays exactly on the footprint that's there," Hopper says. 

According to Hopper, that's not possible, especially with a foundation that cannot be repaired. The DeKalb County Long Term Recovery Committee is now looking into making some special rules just for homes in Fairdale. 

"Where we are heading I think is to create a planned development unique in the county itself that will address a number of the set back considerations and the zoning considerations that have arisen so we're trying to find a middle ground," says Bill Nicklas, chair of the DeKalb County Long Term Recovery Committee. 

 But while those decisions get worked out, Hopper and his family are left waiting. 

"We gotta start rebuilding. It's going to be winter before we know it," Hopper says. 

To create special zoning laws, there has to be public meetings and an ordinance passed. Nicklas says even if everything is fast-tracked, it would mean a minimum of at least six weeks before anything is finalized.

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