Imagine factories, offices or companies growing along U.S. 20 just west of Rockford. It's a vision the city of Rockford wants to see become a reality. But it's growth that can't happen because which property is Rockford's and which is the Village of Winnebago's is a big question mark.
"There will be problems and can be problems if there's not an agreement," said Frank Eubank, Village of Winnebago president.
For years Eubank says there's been talks of defining the boundary line between Rockford and the village. But now that push has some new legs
"It would allow us both to plan for needed public infrastructure and orderly growth of our communities in a way that could benefit both of us," said Todd Cagnoni, Rockford City Administrator
The city of Rockford says U.S. 20 is prime real estate and could be big for future development. But without a boundary agreement between it and Winnebago, developers don't know who to turn to.
"It's pitting the village against the city and that's really not what we want to have happen," said Eubank.
A set boundary could also make life easier for first responders like the Win-Bur-Sew Fire Protection District.
"It's good to have known boundaries so there's not a mix up in calls on which agency is going," said Chief Robert Martin with Win-Bur-Sew Fire.
But there's a lot on the line in defining the line.
"If we lose response area, it's all supported through property taxes. If we lose that area, we lose that funding mechanism," said Martin.
The Village says it's talked about the line coming to Meridian Road.
But Rockford already has some property pre annexed east of that near Winnebago Road.
Win-Bur-Sew's fire chief worries if it comes that far out, it will take a lot of property tax dollars and it's main source of funding with it.
"If it gets smaller it's gonna be difficult to make ends meet," said Martin.
And it's not just the fire protection district. The library and the park district, which also rely on those taxes, could lose funding as well.
"It is very concerning, because we want to make sure that we have the best," said Eubank. "That it is fair for all of the taxing bodies."
As for homeowners in the area that could mean they then must pay Rockford taxes.
"We have heard from residents that are west of meridian that they would rather be part of the Village of Winnebago than be part of the city of Rockford," said Eubank.
Eubank says residents should be able to petition to annex into the village or city, but that option isn't available yet as both sides say they continue to work out an agreement that works for both of them.
"Hopefully we can get something worked out so we can plan better for the future and know where those lines are going to be," said Martin.