New zoning option for Mount Morris’ historic campus OK’d by trustees

The Sandstone Gallery is located at 121 W. Wesley Ave., on the Campus Square in downtown Mt. Morris. The building used to house the Watt Publishing Co., before that business relocated to Rockford.

MOUNT MORRIS – The handful of buildings on Mount Morris’ historic campus now has an additional zoning option.

On Feb. 14, the Mount Morris Village Board unanimously approved an amendment to the zoning ordinance to include C-3: Campus Business District, which will allow the buildings to be used as limited short-term rental units.

“The C-3 [zoning] is strictly for inside the block on the main square uptown,” Planning Commission Chairman Jeff Bold told Village Board trustees. “It doesn’t cross the street.”

The Mount Morris Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend that village trustees adopt the ordinance change; their Jan. 8 vote followed a public hearing.

The ordinance defines a short-term rental as “a separate dwelling unit located within a multi-unit building that has its own sleeping, kitchen and bathroom facilities and is rented for a fee for less than 30 consecutive days and no more than 60 days in a 12-month period to the same occupant. Short-term rentals include vacation rentals.”

Each floor of a building zoned as C-3 can have a maximum of two short-term rentals or apartments, per the ordinance.

“What we’re saying on this is no more than two units per floor, and you could have long-term rental on any floor, commercial on any floor, or apartments or residential units on the second floor and above,” Bold said.

The zoning option does not automatically apply to campus buildings, most of which are zoned C-1: General Business District, he said.

Instead, building owners first will have to petition the Planning Commission and the Mount Morris Village Board and go through a public hearing to have the property rezoned as C-3: Campus Business District.

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner reports on Lee, Ogle and Whiteside counties for Shaw Media out of the Dixon office. Previously, she worked for the Record-Eagle in Traverse City, Michigan, and the Daily Jefferson County Union in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.