By Zach Arbogast.
The topic of closing part of an Oregon street has been controversial for months, and an Oregon Plan Commission hearing about it was expected in March.
March came and went, and the sun is setting on April, but no mention of the street closing has been on the Plan Commission agendas.
In February, Ogle County officials filed a request with Oregon city officials to close the 100 block of South Sixth Street for the proposed new county jail.
A preliminary plan calls for the new jail to be built across South Sixth Street from the judicial center and connected to it by a large sally port across what is now the street.
According to Ogle County Board Chairman Kim Gouker, the original plan for two separate Plan Commission hearings for closing the street and rezoning for the jail has been altered, opting instead for a single hearing dealing with both.
“The reasoning and testimonies for both closing the street and rezoning are going to be pretty much the same, and it doesn’t make sense to go through the hearing process twice,” said Gouker.
Mark Herman, Plan Commission chairman, echoed Gouker’s sentiments.
“It really seems like a much more prudent decision to condense them into one hearing, instead of dragging this on,” said Herman.
The county may not actually need to seek a hearing for approval to rezone; as a government building, the jail would still be permitted in an area zoned for residential use.
According to Gouker, moving forward with a rezoning hearing is a show of good faith to the community.
“This is more meant to show the city and the people that we want to go through the channels to work with them,” said Gouker.
Gouker says a date has not been set for the joint hearing, but mid-May is the current projection. A two-week period between mailing information to the public and conducting the hearing is required.