By BETH ALTENA The Rockford Planning Commission voted 6 to 1 to recommend approval of a condominium development proposed for mostly vacant property that was formerly occupied by Burch Body Works. Commissioner Tammy Bergstrom was the lone nay vote on Thursday, January 22. Rockford City Manager Michael Young opened the evening meeting with a preliminary introduction of the proposed Planned Unit Development. It will be eight ranch-style homes, 15 two-story units and 28 units as stacked, flat residential. The 51-unit development will go up on a 7.32-acre site, but because of wetlands, 62 percent of the property will remain open space. Young spoke to commissioners and a full audience of residents, mostly neighbors who live on Monroe Street between Lewis Street and Courtland Drive. He said the evening’s deliberations were the first in a two-step process, leaving the ultimate yes or no in the hands of Rockford City Council. Young said the City’s Master Plan allows ten units per acre under guidelines for multi-family developments. He noted that this project proposes 6.9 units per acre, and with 62-percent open space, falls well within the requirement of 15-percent open space. “Ultimately there would be a development agreement which is a legal document that will spell out the conditions of maintenance, bylaws, utilities, etc.,” Young told the commissioners. He said the street running through the development would be a private one, not maintained or plowed by the City. Young said an important component will be the storm sewer system because of the developments immediate proximity to Rum Creek bordering the northern edge of the property. Police Chief Dave Jones was present to discuss a traffic study that took place in May, theoretically the peak time for traffic because Parkside School, nearby on Lewis Street, was still in session. The survey counted 750 to 850 cars daily during the week, 450 to 550 on weekends. The fourteen-day average totaled 650 cars per day. Jones compared this to Bridge, Fremont and Courtland streets at 1,200 to 1,800 per day. A traffic research company reported an average of five vehicle trips per unit per day. With the proposed 51 units that would put an additional 250 vehicles on the road to total 900 total cars on Monroe on any given […]
Burch Body Works
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL With air quality monitors surrounding the property and an onsite representative from The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) present, Pitsch Companies, last Thursday, began demolition of the old manufacturing facility of Burch Body Works. Located in the heart of Rockford, on the southeast corner of Monroe St. and Rum Creek, the structure had recently been deemed by the City of Rockford to be a threat to life, limb, and property and was ordered torn down. Demolition began at the rear east side of the building and will finish street side, on the west, at the front of the building facing Monroe Street. Pitsch reports all is moving smoothly without a hitch and expects the tear down to be complete by the end of this week (Friday, Oct. 5).
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Ironically, while the Rockford Historical Society is gearing up to move its Rockford Area Museum to the vacant 63rd District Court Building adjacent to Rockford City Hall, at the very same time, what might be the oldest manufacturing facility in Rockford is about to be demolished and removed. The Burch Body Works facility, located in the very heart of Rockford on the southeast corner of Rum Creek and Monroe St., was until January 2006 the home of Rockford’s oldest continuously operating business. Dating back to 1866, when it manufactured horse drawn carriages and drays, today Burch is an innovative provider of practical solutions for custom work truck applications in the Great Lakes region, across the country, and around the world. In late December 2005 the employees of Burch purchased the business, but not the property, from its current owner and shortly thereafter relocated the company’s operations to a more suitable manufacturing facility on Childsdale Ave., in Plainfield Township. Speaking for Burch Body Works, LLC, Andrew Laitila said, “We hated to leave Rockford but the antiquated building was beyond repair and a totally unsafe work environment. It was also functionally obsolete and ill suited for any type of commercial business let alone the manufacture and installation of our highly specialized work truck products.” Upon Burch’s move out of Rockford, the property owner placed the beautiful 6+-acre Rum Creek-side property on the market. All attempts, thus far, to sell the property have been unsuccessful. In the meantime, for the past six years, the main building on the property has fallen into further disrepair. Even though securely gated and surrounded by an eight-foot chain link fence, the property has been repeatedly trespassed upon and the building broken into and vandalized. More relevant, at some point in early winter 2011 a major portion of the building, on its northeast corner, collapsed in upon itself. With a great concern for the neighborhood and its citizens and also for those who are illegally entering the property and putting themselves in harms way, the City of Rockford this past spring presented the property owner with a demolition order. The property owner is cooperating and willingly complying, has secured demolition funding, and is currently working through the […]