A handful of residents are suing the City of Rockford. They say they want to stop a 49-unit housing development from coming to their neighborhood.
That development is in the works after the city approved important documents for it earlier this year. Some residents say that shouldn't have happened.
The lawsuit was filed in Winnebago County court. It claims there are serious issues with future housing plans for South New Towne Drive. Developer Gorman & Company wants to build 49 units, most of which will be replacement housing for people who currently live in low-income public housing at Fairgrounds Valley, a Rockford Housing Authority property.
"I don't think it's going to deconcentrate poverty. It's going to move people to a different area where they're packed into one area," says resident and lawsuit plaintiff Donald Bondick, who lives just across the street from South New Towne Drive on Diane Court.
A group of residents, including Bondick, claims it was illegal for the city to approve the plat last month for South New Towne Drive. A plat is a document a developer needs approved from the city before it can build. The plaintiffs also allege the planned housing development at New Towne will have negative impacts to the surrounding area, including traffic congestion and decrease in property values. Now, nearby residents and business owners want to pump the brakes on this project.
"It's to halt the project. It has to be rethought and done with earnestness from both parties," Bondick adds.
Bondick says if the development is halted, then he and other nearby residents want to have conversations with the city and Gorman about the development. The hope, Bondick says, is those conversations would result in changes made to the plan, including lessening the number of proposed units on South New Towne Drive.
A city spokesperson released a written statement regarding the lawsuit:
"The City Council gave careful consideration to the matters and acted within its lawful authority in approving the plat. The city will respond to the allegations and contest the plaintiff's assertions as part of the court process."
Bondick says the city has a month to respond to this complaint. 13 News reached out to the Rockford Housing Authority, which runs the city's public housing properties. They refused to comment.
Several South New Towne residents have filed a lawsuit against the City of Rockford, saying their approval for the public housing plat is unconstitutional.
The lawsuit states that Gorman and Company purchased the South New Towne land in 2007 — but that it never submitted an updated application for a plat.
The only one submitted by Gorman expired in 2008, making the City Council's approval of a public housing development invalid, according to the lawsuit.
Now, plaintiffs in this lawsuit say the city violated their due process by approving the South New Towne plat earlier this year.
They are now asking the city to declare the plat to be illegal, unconstitutional and invalid.
Coming up on 13 News at 10, WREX sits down with these South New Towne residents to hear more about their case.