Monday, August 22, 2011

St. James’ Revised Plan due 8-19-2011—or does a church not have to abide by deadlines?

UPDATE:  Monday, 8-22-2011, 9:10 AM. I just contacted Belvidere Planning and Zoning. Mr.Linkenheld emailed the office this morning and the written revision will now be submitted this afternoon.

SEE Mr. Linkenheld’s letter below. Any additional information will be presented by August 19.  On Wednesday, August 17 Father Geary and the architect  presented oral information at a Planning and Zoning staff meeting.  Mayor Brereton was kind enough to supply an oral summary of the meeting to three concerned citizens and neighbors of the St. James project on Thursday. 

As of 1:30 PM on Friday 8-19-2011 no written revised plan has been received.  At 4:30 PM Mr. Linkenheld called the Planning and Zoning Department and stated that there is “just one more thing regarding parking” so he will get it to the Planning and Zoning on Monday.  The aldermen will have no written information regarding the revised plan.  The neighbors and concerned citizens will have little or no time to consider the changes nor have an opportunity to review the plans.   Will Monday’s proceedings regarding St. James really be open and transparent when neither the city council nor the general public have an opportunity to study the revised plans?


I understand that some of the aldermen have had private discussions with the parish about the revision.  Perhaps some of them have been given the new plans to study. Are all these actions as transparent and open as they should be?  Will some aldermen have information which  is not available to the public?


The following appears to be the procedure which the city will follow on the revision (subject to change by the city council).  On this Monday, August 22, Mr. Linkenheld will present the revised plan at city council.  The aldermen may then ask questions even though aldermen may not have had the opportunity to study the written proposal.  The public then can ask questions.  The written revision may or may not have ever been available to the public.  The St. James zoning request then would be voted at the next meeting—Tuesday--September 6.  The public can talk to the aldermen individually or possibly at the Tuesday meeting before the vote.  However there will no further opportunity to pose questions to Mr. Linkenheld and St. James.  Basically the public’s questions will be unanswered unless they are present at the August 22 meeting and the public is smart enough and quick enough to pose the questions at the August 22 meeting.


The following is the information which we obtained from our meeting with the Mayor and from Jean Christensen’s discussion with Mr. Linkenheld several days ago.  Please remember all the changes are merely proposals which St. James may or may not be in the actual revision.


The revised Church will have the same foot print. (length and width dimensions);  however, the building has been moved closer to the school/parish center.  The baptistery is on the school side rather than on Church Street.  The building has also been moved closer to Caswell Street and the porch like effect (see bottom color photocopy, #7) is much smaller.  That will have a major effect on the ramp; we will have to wait to see if diagrams of that are provided by Mr. Linkenheld. 

The shadow effect of the tall church still will exist but it will shift.  How it shifts will be unknown unless that question is answered at the August 22 meeting and Mr. Linkenheld gives a complete presentation of the effect on all of the neighboring property owners.  The shadow analysis should consider the relative height of the new church not merely the building height from its foundation.  The proposed building has a number of steps from the street before you reach the buildings floor.  Thus a 70 foot church will be casting a shadow of a considerably taller building upon its neighbors.  If the ground level on the church is 10 feet higher than the neighboring property a shadow equivalent to a 80 foot building will be cast upon its neighbors.

The height of the new church has been shortened slightly.  The inside ceiling is now arched and rises above the sidewall in the middle so as to maintain the look and feel of 50 feet high ceilings.  The side walls are 48 feet rather than 54 feet.  The peak height was not supplied however half way up the peak,  the height is 54.5 feet.(This is information on a shadow analysis presented.  I estimated the height at the peak has changed from 70 feet to 64 feet.)  Half way up the peak (54.5 feet) was the basis for shadow studies that were demonstrated to zoning/planning staff for the houses across Caswell Street from the new church.

Please keep in mind that the above information is all third hand information without written documentation and St. James may even change their oral revision when it is finally written and presented to the public.

Extension request 7-28-2011



OLD—As submitted to Belvidere Planning and Zoning on May 10, 2011

Taken from:,%202011.pdf

Click on the photocopy to enlarge: 







Brochure 8

Belvidere Township Financials

NEWS FLASH:  This afternoon(8-23-2011) at 5:00 PM Belvidere Township Board will receive the environmental report on the old Eagle’s Club and will discuss further the purchase of the building for Y Activities.  If you live in Belvidere Township please come.

Also remember the public forum regarding the new St. James Church—this evening at 6:30 PM at the Community Building—all parishioners and general public welcome.

Last week I posted Terri Glass’ request for financial information from Belvidere Township.  [SEE:]

Another reader supplied this summary of township finances and its budget as proposed in April 2011.

First remember that basically there is a special accounting for each of the township accounts with each account having limitations as to allowable expenses.


The fiscal year is from April 1 to March 31.  Here are the beginning and ending balances for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011. Total fund balances increase by $505,612.22; the larges amount in the town account ($234589.71).

Click on the photocopy to enlarge:


Account balances

For the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012 the  Belvidere Township is appropriating approximately $3.4 million.  See the photocopy below.  This is approximately the amount which taxpayers will pay to the township on their tax bills.



The following sheets supplies the 2012 budget/2011 budget and actual/2010 budget actual:


sheet 1

Town Fund Account 001

Townhall fund 001

Detailed Town Fund

Townhall detailed budget

General Assistance Account 003 .  Note the high CD’s/Cash Carryover from Table 1. During FY 2010 cash/CDE’s for General Assistance rose from $195k to $215.7k. The 215.7is 333.2 % of budgeted appropriation and a like number of budgeted expenditures.  Should Belvidere township be levying any tax for general assistance when it has surplus equal to more than three years of actual expenditures? 

Approximately $65k is appropriated each year of which $45k is from property tax.  Yet as shown by the detailed expenses, actual expenditures (Table 3) were only $42.3k in 2010 and $52.3k in 2009. 

Look at the detailed actual expenses (Table 3).  Administrative cost are almost all of the actual expenditures.  In FY 2011 the only actual benefits for indigent were $4,500 rent; $600 Utility assistance, $475 living expenses , $500 food and home relief, and $80 transient travel. TOTAL:  $6,165  In 201o $12,344.50 rent assistance, 925 living expense grant, $500 food/home relief, and $80 transient travel. TOTAL $13,849.20.


General Assistance--revenue side


Gen Assist Expenditure side