Landmark Decision Delayed Again
April 25, 2019
ROCKFORD—The Rockford City Council Codes and Regulations Committee, April 22,  made no new decision regarding applications to landmark three buildings on the Cathedral of St. Peter campus and voted to discuss it again at their next meeting April 29.  The Cathedral parish and the Rockford Diocese oppose the applications.
The decision on whether or not to landmark the former convent, the Cathedral of St. Peter School and the former Chancery building was sent back to Codes and Regulations by the full Rockford City Council on April 15. 
Alderman Frank Beach asked the council to lay the vote over to the May 6 meeting to allow the committee to recommend a compromise or give time for the diocese to consider the petitioners’ ideas for redevelopment. 
The council is required to vote by a 2/3 majority when historic landmark designation is sought without consent of the landowner. 
Lawyers for the Diocese of Rockford and representatives of the Friends of Ziock, a local group of citizens who filed the landmark applications, were invited to meet with the Codes and Regulation Committee to see if some kind of a compromise could even be suggested. 
The diocese agreed to the meeting but maintains its position that no part of the Cathedral campus is for sale or lease, therefore the idea of redevelopment for commercial or residential use for non-religious purposes is not possible.
It has repeatedly explained the Diocese of Rockford is not just one neighborhood and one city but many parishes in many cities in 11 counties of  northern Illinois. 
The Friends of Ziock believe the buildings and property should be landmarked for preservation in order to gain tax incentives for secular and commercial enterprises. 
At the April 22 meeting, the diocese reminded members of the committee and the Friends of Ziock that this kind of development does not serve the mission of the Church and that it is the constitutional right of the church to use its property and buildings to exercise the faith and to make decisions on its use.
Petitions to landmark the former chancery, former convent and Cathedral of St. Peter School were filed in December 2018 after the diocese and the Cathedral parish announced in November 2018 a plan to raze the former convent and chancery. Razing would make way for additional cathedral parking and for green space that will include two prayer and meditation gardens dedicated to the Virgin Mary, one under her title of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the diocese,  and the other Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas. 
The matter moved on to the City of Rockford’s Historic Preservation Commission. The commission approved the petitions and sent them on to the city council who referred the matter to its Codes and Regulation Committee. 
The committee voted unanimously to recommend that the full council deny the petitions. A vote on the issue was expected at the April 1 council meeting but the council members voted to lay the vote over to its next meeting. According to city council rules, the matter must be decided by May 6 or the petition dies.
The Diocese of Rockford, as well as Rockford architect Dan Roszkowski maintains the buildings do not qualify for landmark status because none of the buildings meet the primary criteria for historic designation which states that a “structure or site must retain the integrity and spirit of the original design.” The former chancery and convent have been vacant for about 10 years. 
— Observer staff