Girl Scouts still searching for a campground

Request for special permit for overnight camping at Hickory Grove gets denied.

Girl Scouts will not be camping at Hickory Grove.

Monday night in an eight to five vote, the city council denied the special permit that would allow overnight camping a 630 Hickory Grove.

"I think the additional impact of the overnight camping with the 35 weeks per year - which is the only thing we're hear to discuss - adds an additional impact when taken in total and was probably not given enough weight in the planning commission meeting," Alderman Paul Havermale said as he addressed the council.

In the end, concerns about the camp's proximity to homes, increased road use, and potential noise swayed the council to override the city planning commission's recommendation of approving the special permit for the Girl Scouts.

"A campsite, in a residential campsite, does not make any sense to me," a concerned neighbor at the meeting commented.

The Girl Scouts proposed having up to 12 people camp overnight in an existing home on the property. The organization also intended to build an office space on the land for use during regular business hours.

"We have investigated other properties before deciding to pursue this one. We are doing our due diligence to find a property that is most convenient for our girl membership here in West Central Illinois," spokesperson for the Girl Scouts of West Central Illinois Erica Douglas said.

The setback means more time without a campground anywhere close for local scouts.

"Little girls like my sister for instance, they need to learn how to be good citizens and learn how to be responsible and be able to take care of themselves," Zoe Drews said. Zoe, who is a Junior Girl Scout, spoke to the council about her positive experiences camping, and how she wished other young girls could have that experience.

The Girl Scouts have not yet made a decision on whether or not they will continue to pursue using the property for office space.