Despite resident opposition, Galena council OKs Marine Hospital annexation agreement

GALENA, Ill. — Despite another show of resident opposition, Galena City Council members this week approved an annexation tied to the development of a substantial lodging project centered around Galena Marine Hospital.

Council members voted, 5-2, to approve the second and final reading of the annexation agreement between the city and True North Quality Homes LLC, developer of The Parker project.

The agreement will bring about 55 acres of the property at 1304 Park Ave. into city limits. In addition to the restoration of the hospital, The Parker project will involve four construction phases culminating in more than 100 cottages, a café building, a restaurant/event space, outdoor dining areas, a vineyard, walking trails and other amenities.

This week’s vote mirrored the previous 5-2 votes regarding a rezoning request for the project and the first reading of the annexation agreement. In each vote, Bobby Hahn, Jerry Kieffer, Marc McCoy, Jerry Westemeier and Katie Wienen voted in favor while Pam Bernstein and Mayor Terry Renner voted against.

The council members in support of the annexation said little about their votes during this week’s meeting. McCoy said he didn’t have anything to say because it has all been said before.

While he opposes the move, Renner said he understands the point of view from each side.

“I’m not opposed to progress, but I think it can be done in a fair and equitable manner,” he said.

Eight members of the public addressed the council during this week’s meeting, every one against the development and each receiving a round of applause after they finished speaking.

Resident Wendy Clark said she doesn’t see the benefits the resort would bring, but the negative impacts are clear.

“We will lose so much in privacy, peace and quiet, safety and potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in property value,” she said. “What will be the tradeoff to make it worth it to sacrifice us?”

City resident Larry Priske said the city has numerous lodging options including short-term vacation rentals, bed-and-breakfasts and hotels.

“Do we need more?” he asked. “At what point do we say enough tourism is enough?”

Other concerns expressed included that city approval is coming too fast without enough study or discussion and that council members have their minds made up and no amount of protest will change their votes.

Bernstein said council members in support of the project should address residents’ concerns.

“I think it’s important the council answers some of the questions citizens have asked tonight about why this is a good idea,” said Bernstein to audience applause.

Hahn said approval “is not a rubber stamp” for approval down the line. He said each phase of the project must be approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals before proceeding.

Renner said the developer has limits and must follow all ordinances and criteria.

City Administrator Mark Moran said two ordinances will be drafted within the next 60 days for council consideration — one for the annexation itself and the other to rezone the property.

Today, the Zoning Board of Appeals will consider the first phase of the project, which involves the planting of approximately 2,500 grape vines for the resort’s vineyard.