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A permit is required for any new construction, remodel, or repair of any structure or accessory structure. An accessory structure includes:
Repairs and remodeling include any:
The occupancy of any building, whether new or existing, requires an occupancy permit.
Detached garages and sheds must be at least 5 feet from the side and rear property lines and must be at least 10 feet from any other structure on the lot. Sheds and detached garages are not allowed in front yards.
No detached garage or accessory building can occupy more than 40% of the area of any required rear yard. Further, no accessory building or combination of accessory buildings can exceed 900 square feet in total floor area. Floor area includes all floors of accessory buildings. For the purpose of determining floor area, all stories with structural headroom of 7 feet 6 inches or greater will be included.
Fences may be located up to the property line. They may be a maximum of six feet above the existing grade. Fences are not permitted in front yards or in the corner side of reversed corner lots.
Pools require a permit. They must be located at least 8 feet from any property line and not less than 8 feet from any building on the lot. Additional considerations must be made for overhead electrical service and any underground utilities. Pools that are 24 inches in depth or more are required to be enclosed by a 4 foot high fence and must have a lockable gate/access.
The proposed location of a business is governed by the permitted uses within a particular zoning district. The type of business also determines code requirements for the proposed site. In many cases, City licenses are required. An Occupancy Certificate is required prior to opening your business. Call us early in the process and we assist you in making an informed decision about your business location.
To learn more about which codes apply in Sterling, visit the Code Enforcement page.
The length of the review depends on the size and complexity of the project. It also depends on the time of year. More people apply for building permits in the spring and summer, and thus it may take longer to complete the review process during these busier times.
There are two primary ways to make the review process move more quickly. First, City staff recommends hiring professional consultants and/or contractors to help you complete the project design and permitting process. Second, make sure the application information you submit is complete.
Work authorized by a permit must begin within 30 days of the date of the permit and be completed within one year of permit issuance. Permits may be extended beyond the one-year deadline at the Building & Zoning Superintendent’s discretion.
A “Stop Work” order is issued for construction work that is not being completed in accordance with the approved plans or for work that was started without a permit.
Required inspections are listed on the permit. For more information on inspections check with the Building department at 815-632-6624.
Many exterior improvements also require development review and approval. Prior to beginning any exterior construction work, you should contact the Building & Zoning Department to determine whether a development review is required.
The Greater Sterling Development Corporation 815-625-5255 can help you find an appropriate location in the area. Sterling Main Street 815-626-8610 specializes in assisting businesses with locating in the downtown area.
If you are interested in expanding your current business facility or operations, please contact the Building & Zoning Department 815-632-6624 to discuss requirements for on-site expansion or relocation to a larger facility. The Greater Sterling Development Corporation 815-625-5255 can assist with property acquisition and incentive options.
Prior to signing a lease or purchasing property, you should contact the Building & Zoning Department 815-632-6624 to confirm that your business use is permitted at that location and to discuss any site limitations. If you are leasing or purchasing an existing space or building, you should also contact the Building & Zoning Department to schedule a pre-inspection of the property to determine whether improvements are necessary or possible to bring the building into compliance with the City Code.
The easiest way to determine whether your business is a permitted use at a particular location is to contact the Building & Zoning Department 815-632-6624. Staff will assist you in making this determination and, if necessary, can direct you to other locations in the City where your business may be permitted.
To construct most interior improvements, you will need to obtain a building permit from the Building & Zoning Department. Prior to beginning any construction or renovation work, contact the Building & Zoning Department to determine whether a building permit is required.
For information on a variety of state and federal agencies that provide loans and grants to businesses, please contact the SBDC.
At your request, the Building & Zoning Department will conduct an inspection of your building or tenant space and provide you a summary of what improvements may be necessary to bring it into compliance with the City Code. Please call 815-632-6624.
The size, number, and types of signage allowed vary by zoning district and other specifics of individual developments. Please contact the Building & Zoning Department at 815-632-6624.
The Sauk Valley Chamber of Commerce serves as the voice of the business community. The Chamber provides various events and opportunities for business promotion. The Chamber maintains a Business Directory and advocates for local business interests. Telephone 815-625-2400.
Sterling Main Street exists to support a revitalized, historic downtown through a comprehensive approach focusing on community assets and partnerships to develop, maintain and promote an attractive and vital downtown district. They can assist in getting the word out through many of their events and active social networking! Telephone 815-626-8610.
You may be permitted to hold outdoor promotional events or activities depending on the zoning district and location of your business. Contact the Building & Zoning Department for more information on conducting outdoor events and activities.
The Whiteside County Health Department is responsible for monitoring food distribution, you will need to contact them for more information on their policies and regulations.
Fiber Optic options are available through iFiber
Electric is provided through ComEd
Natural Gas is provided through Nicor Gas
Cable TV/Internet is provided through Comcast
Water is provided through Illinois American Water Company
Wastewater is provided through the City of Sterling (account setup is automatically forwarded from Illinois American Water Co., so there is no need to establish an account or service).
Before any excavation contact the Building and Zoning Department to determine whether a building permit is required. Also, contact J.U.L.I.E. by calling 811.
The City ordinances are available online. The Building Department page lists the codes that have been adopted.
You can pay your sewer bill online at https://esuite.sterling-il.gov/eSuite.Utilities/Default.aspx.. You can pay over the phone with a credit or debit card by calling 815-632-6650
Call Republic Services at 815-625-1000
You may have a recreational fire, you must burn wood that has been cut specifically for that use. You may not burn trash, lumber, scraps of wood, paper, or yard waste. All recreational fires must be in a fire pit with a spark arrestor and a lid. If a neighbor complains about the smoke you will be asked to put the fire out.
Payments can be made with the Violations Clerk at the Sterling Police Department in the form of cash, check or money order. Credit cards are also accepted through a secure website for a $3 service fee.
Agendas can be found here https://il-sterling.civicplus.com/AgendaCenter
Call Public Works at 815-632-6657.
Check our career opportunities page at https://il-sterling.civicplus.com/jobs.aspx
By State law, the Sterling FIre-Police Commission tests every two years for the Sterling Fire Department. Candidates must test for the position. The top candidates are then put onto a hiring list to call as positions become available. For more information contact the Sterling Fire Department at 815-632-6680.
By State law, the Sterling FIre-Police Commission tests every two years for the Sterling Police Department. Candidates must test for the position. The top candidates are then put onto a hiring list to call as positions become available. Contact the Sterling Police Department at 815-632-6600 for more information.
Garage sale signs cannot be placed in the public right of way. You may not put signs on utility poles, traffic signs or on sidewalks.
To rent a City facility please call the City Clerk's office at 815-632-6630.
Sump pumps and roof drains may not be connected to the sanitary sewer. It is illegal to create or maintain either connection. The City offers a cost-sharing grant to help eliminate these connections. Please contact the Building & Zoning Department at 815-632-6624 for further information on the grant. In limited cases, you may be able to connect a sump pump to a catch basin. Please contact Public Works for more information on this at 815-632-6657.
Please contact the police department at 815-632-6600.
Call our dispatch at 815-632-6640 select option 5.
If there is an animal running at large, you should call Animal Control first (during normal business hours). Animal Control is handled by the Whiteside County Health Department in Rock Falls and can be reached by calling 815-625-3507.
If it is after hours, then you may call the Police Department; Sterling Police Department Dispatch can be reached at 815-632-6640, Option 5.
No, cats as well as dogs are not allowed to run at large. The City Ordinance relating to animals at large reads:
(a) It is unlawful for the owner or keeper of any dog or cat to permit such dog or cat to run at large within the city limits. The owner or keeper of any dog or cat shall not permit such dog or cat to go beyond the premises of the owner or keeper unless such dog or cat is securely leashed or otherwise securely restrained and at all times under the control of its owner or keeper.(b) A fine of $50 will be levied against the owner of the animal caught running at large. After the second offense within a one-year period, the fine will be assessed at $100. The fine for the third and any subsequent offenses within a one-year period will be $150.
According to Section 14-5 in the City’s Ordinances:
"It shall be unlawful to harbor or keep any animals which disturb the peace by loud noises at any time of the day or night." You may contact the Sterling Police Department at 815-632-6640 option 5 to report a loud animal or barking dog
You may have 3 total animals. Section 14-9(c) of the City’s Ordinances states:
It is hereby declared a nuisance and unlawful for any person to keep or harbor four or more dogs or cats, or dogs and cats, upon or within their place of residence within the city, except for dogs or cats, or dogs and cats, under the age of ten weeks. Such nuisance shall be subject to summary abatement by any police officer or poundmaster.
Yes. Section 14-32 of the City’s Ordinances states:
Every owner of a dog, four months or more of age, not confined at all times to an enclosed area and thereby rendered incapable of scratching or biting any person, including the owner, shall cause the dog to be inoculated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian at such intervals as may be established pursuant to the Animal Control Act, 510 ILCS 5/1 et seq.
Rules applicable to cats are as follows:
The feeding of cats outdoors shall take place primarily during daylight hours to minimize interactions between domestic and wild animals, which increase the risk of rabies exposure for cats. Any food provided outdoors after daylight hours shall be made available for no longer than 30 minutes, after which it shall be removed.
Feeding outdoors is only allowed when an appropriate amount of food for daily consumption of the cat being cared for is provided. Food must be appropriately placed in a sanitary container sufficient for the cat being fed. Automatic feeders that are properly maintained and secured may be used to dispense daily food rations and may be present during night hours, provided that any food so dispensed shall be removed after daylight hours.
Dumping excess quantities of food on the ground, placing excess quantities in bowls or other containers, and leaving open food packages is prohibited.
Outdoor feeding upon private property may take place only with the property owner's consent. Feeding on public property, road rights-of-way, parks, common land of a multifamily housing unit or any property without consent of the owner is prohibited.
Community cat management initiatives. The city recognizes the need for innovation in addressing the issues presented by feral, free-roaming and other community cats. To that end it recognizes that there are community care givers of cats, and acknowledges that properly managed community cats may be part of the solution to the continuing euthanasia of cats; and establishes the following requirements:
All managed community cat groups must be maintained on the private property of the caregiver, or, with permission, on the private property of another landowner (including city, state, and federal public property).
All cats that are part of community cat management programs (TNR) must be sterilized, vaccinated against the threat of rabies, and ear-tipped for easy identification. Upon meeting these requirements the community cat is exempt from licensing and from other provisions of this ordinance applying to owned animals, including the prohibition of stray and at-large animals.
A person providing care for community cats is required to provide certain necessities of care on a regular/ongoing basis, including, but not limited to, proper nutrition and medical care as needed.
Food must be provided in the proper quantity for the number of cats being managed and is to be supplied no less than once per day. Food must be maintained in proper feeding containers.
Water, if supplied, must be clean, potable and free from debris and algae.
If shelter is provided, it shall be unobtrusive, safe, and of the proper size for the cat(s).
The City of Sterling requires anyone selling a product or service door to door to have a solicitor’s permit.
For more information, view the City Ordinance on Solicitation (PDF).
A solicitor’s permit helps to ensure the safety of the citizens of Sterling. A permit enables the citizens to know that those who are soliciting are individuals who have been approved to solicit by the City of Sterling.
A solicitor’s permit also provides protection for the solicitor. With a permit, the solicitor is able to assure the citizens of Sterling that they have met the requirements set by the City of Sterling to carry a solicitor permit.
All individuals who will be soliciting door to door must come in person to the Sterling Police Department and fill out an application to solicit. Current, state-issued photo identification must be provided at the time of application. A $10 administrative fee is due when the application is submitted. Permits can be applied for Monday through Friday during the hours of 8 am to 4 pm.
A background check is conducted on all applicants. Permits will be issued within 5 business days of the application.
At the time of application a $10 administrative fee is due for each applicant. In addition:
Per city ordinance, solicitors must:
Yes, all solicitors should have a permit issued by the Sterling Police Department, If a solicitor does not display and cannot produce a permit, they may not be licensed to solicit in the City of Sterling. Unlicensed solicitors may be reported to the police department at 815-632-6640, Option 5.
The 1st Amendment and the U.S. Constitution protect the rights of door-to-door solicitors and preclude the ability of a community to ban door-to-door sales. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld free speech for commercial purposes and the City’s ability to restrict commercial door-to-door solicitation is limited to local regulations restricting the time, place and manner of door-to-door solicitations.
Display a weatherproof card, approximately 3 inches by 4 inches in size, upon or near the main door to the residence, indicating the determination by the occupant, containing the applicable words: "Only Solicitors Registered in Sterling Invited" or "No Solicitors Invited". The letters shall be at least one-third inch in height. "No Solicitors Invited" stickers are available to the public at no charge at the Sterling Police Department and the City Clerk’s office.
Join the City of Sterling "Do Not Knock" registry. This works similar to a "Do Not Call" list and will prohibit solicitation at registered addresses. Download the Do Not Knock Registry Application (PDF) or visit the Police Department or the City Clerk’s office to obtain a physical copy. To learn more, visit the Solicitation "Do Not Knock" Registry page.
Citizens should never compromise their security by providing utility account information to anyone unless they intend to enroll in an alternate energy program of their own choosing. The City of Sterling strongly recommends that residents carefully protect their account information and energy billing information from solicitors and all other non-account holders.
Residents should specifically be aware of door-to-door energy sales and solicitations. The City of Sterling does not send people door-to-door to register residents for the supply of alternate energy. When evaluating energy suppliers, residents are encouraged to visit the Illinois Commerce Commission’s complaint scorecard which tracks and compares the rate of complaints against retail tracks and compares the rate of complaints against retail electric suppliers/energy providers on the Plug In Illinois website.
If you have a neighbor that has an accumulation of rubbish, trash, refuse, junk and other abandoned materials, metals, lumber or other things please call the Code Enforcement Department at 815-632-6624.
Yard waste can not be burned.
No, all off street parking must be a hard surfaced driveway. Parking in your front, side or back yard is never permitted.
No, you cannot store an unlicensed vehicle, trailer, or vehicle parts on your property, even if it is under a cover. You will have to store these items in your garage.
Your grass can not be more than 8 inches tall. If you have a neighbor that has tall weeds and grass you may call the Code Enforcement Department at 815-632-6624.