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Miss Carly’s hires new architect to meet City’s request

City of Rockford code officials ensure compliance with special-use permit
Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 3:20 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - City of Rockford leaders say Miss Carly’s must show progress to comply with a special-use permit granted more than a year ago for her mixed-use home. In June 2019 Rockford City Council unanimously voted to provide the permit to Carly Rice and her partner Jacob Rush to allow them to utilize their home to help the community. Fast forward a year and a half later, Rice took to Facebook saying the city was threatening to shut her down.

City leaders disputed those claims to 23 News, saying they believe she is an asset to the community, but want to ensure safety for everyone involved.

“Really our first goal is to help her; to help her keep herself safe, the people that she has living there with her, her family, the volunteers, the clients that she serves,” says City of Rockford’s Wester Wuori. “That’s really the end goal of the special-use permit process.”

The special-use permit includes several city demands that rice and rush must meet, although the city never provided a deadline.

“We expect that there’s progress, we expect communication and so when our city team reached out to her a few weeks ago to see where are we are at on a number of these things,” says Wuori. “You know we have concerns but we want to keep working with her.”

One of the requirements is for Miss Carly’s to have a design professional draw and define spaces for use, making sure all areas are up to code. That process could cost thousands of dollars, according to Rice. She tells us she was on track to do so, but her pro-bono architect and friend, Alicia Neubauer died earlier this year from cancer. Her Facebook post asked the community for help. That’s when Zach Enderle, Vice President at Tyson and Billy Architects stepped up.

“My wife actually told me about it, and then probably within 10 or 15 minutes of when my wife told me I was getting text messages from people, and Facebook messages from people just saying ‘hey have you seen this? Miss Carly needs help,’” Enderle tells 23 News. “I went there and walked around, got a tour, got to meet some of the volunteers there and really heard her story, and it really kind of hit me what she does for the community, and really how valuable she is.”

The company is doing the drawing at no cost to Rice. He says the process is 90 percent complete, but the building needs updates. Some of those include proper exit sign placement, designated spaces for donation items and egress paths.

“Really at the end of the day it’s documenting it and reinforcing that stuff,” says Enderle .”At the end of the day the city just wants to make sure it’s safe.”

City code officials say they maintain contact with Rice, and hope to serve as a resource to achieve compliance.

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