By Steve Robinson | January 7, 2019 - 10:48 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – Developers unveiled what they have in mind for the proposed five-story building on the east side of the Roundabout during the regularly-scheduled meeting of Normal Town Council Monday night. During the meeting in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station, representatives from Iowa-based Bush Construction laid out their vision for what that section of Uptown could look like once construction is completed, a project they have dubbed Trail East. They also laid out a proposed time table of when work on the project would begin.

Jerrod Engler, vice president of construction for the construction firm told Council members the five-story structure would be a 120 sq. ft. mix of brick and paneling, and that second and third floors already had companies already interested in becoming tenants. Private residences would make up the fifth floor, he added.

Engler explained the developers envision the building having a food mart located where it faces the corner of College Ave. and Constitution Blvd. Another tenant showing an interest and being added to the project is Windy City Wieners restaurant, currently located at 108 E. Beaufort St. Windy City Wieners, Slingshot Cowork at 106 E. Beaufort St., and the building which formally housed The Pod art center at 104 E. Beaufort St. would all come down to make way for the proposed development.

Town Public Works Director Wayne Aldrich told Council members all utilities for the new building would go underground along E. Beaufort St. and the Town will foot the bill for making that possible. He added construction could result in some street closures. He added the Town has been in contact with and will stay in contact with property and building owners in the area throughout the construction period.

John E. Bishop, senior architectural manager for The Farnsworth Group, told Council members structural design on the project would begin in May and implementing the design would begin in June. Anticipated completion for the roughly $30 million project would be August of 2020.

The proposed development had residents both in support of it and against it speak to Council members prior to the developers’ presentation. Resident Stan Nord in telling Council members he opposed the project, adding, “The Town should subsidize $4,200 per month rents. Normal is more than Uptown. Other parts of Town have needs.”

Resident Mike Matejka told Council members he supported the project and added he hoped the developers would use local union workers in the construction process.

In voicing his objection to the project, former Mayoral Candidate Marc Tiritilli told Council members, “Preserving artwork was mentioned when this project was brought up. Let’s shift to keep the artwork. There are ways to preserve the historic nature of this town.”

Mural Relocation Discussed: Concerning artwork located at 104 E. Beaufort St., Council members unanimously approved a resolution to waive the formal bid process and authorized City Manager Pam Reece to enter into an agreement with Bloomington-based The Farnsworth Group for removal and relocation of the mural there in anticipation of that location becoming part of the future development in Uptown discussed earlier in the meeting. In 2011, an art business, The Pod, located at that address, began giving access to artists to create a mural on the building’s west side which was visible from the Roundabout.

But the business closed in January 2017 and the store has been vacant since. During public comments to Council members at the start of the meeting, current Town Council candidate Karyn Smith registered objections to the destruction of the mural as being part of what would happen in order for the proposed five-story building to go up on that site. Smith said the change in the cost of construction of the five story building is all due to a change made by the developer.

Although not part of the original plan when Council members approved the plan in October, 106 E. Beaufort St., too, along with 104 and 108 were slated to be torn down for the building site. That change moved the project’s cost up by $800,000, from $29.2 million to $30 million. The Town’s contribution, too, has jumped as a result, from $8 million in future property taxes to $8.65 million in property and sales taxes.

Reece told Council members the cost involved in removing the mural from the building and relocating was researched by the Town and found to run between $56,200 and $81,560. She added the Town may seek to recover costs incurred in the project from the building’s previous tenants.

Council Approves Special Use For Rooming House: Council members unanimously approved a special use permit for a building in a residential neighborhood. A two-story home at 405 Normal Ave. is being considered as a rooming house for use by Alpha Omicron sorority. The sorority would like to use the building to house 23 students and a house mother. Normal’s Zoning Board of Appeals gave conditional approval to the project at their Dec. 18 meeting.

James Knightright lives a couple doors down from the building and told Council members he wasn’t concerned about the students who would be coming into his neighborhood, but rather that the process used by the Town “excluded locals” to give their say on the matter. In addition, he told Council members a parking ban on that street in force from 6a.m.-9a.m. was “inconvenient and treats students disrespectfully.”

Widmer Appointed To Children’s Discovery Museum Board: Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Fritzen announced to the gathering the appointment of Rob Widmer to the Children’s Discovery Museum Foundation Board. Recently retired as President of Heartland Community College, Widmer, a grandfather of 11 children, has had opportunities to experience first-hand. He is filling an open seat of the Board and his term expires July 30, 2021.

Two Omnibus Items Approved: Council unanimously approved two omnibus items: Approval of minutes from the Council’s regular meeting of Dec. 17, 2018, and payment of Town expenditures as of Jan. 3, 2019.

By Steve Robinson | December 17, 2018 - 10:17 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

Regardless of a community’s political climate, any notion of a mayor and city council granting themselves a pay hike will strike residents of the community in one of two ways: One side will see it as a necessary step to continue to help those elected continue to do their job, even if a cash incentive isn’t why those elected serve, while another side will decry its necessity while pointing out a potential financial burden to the community.

And with an election coming for Normal Town Council members in April, some might think it dicey to try to pass any such action now. Yet, at Monday’s regularly-scheduled session held in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station, Council members did approve two ordinances – one granting a raise to Normal’s mayor beginning after being elected in 2021, and one granting a raise for those persons elected to Council after being elected in 2023.

Currently, Mayor Chris Koos earns $18,000 annually for the job. That amount was approved in 2009, boosting the pay up from $10,000 annually. As a result of the vote on the ordinance Monday, whoever runs and wins the mayoral post will be paid an annual sum of $32,000, effective May 1, 2021. The second ordinance passed would see Council members’ annual pay jump from $4,800 to $6,800, effective May 1, 2023.

In fact, the final figures approved by Council members for both Mayoral and Council pay saw amendments proposed by one Council member who is not seeking re-election in the spring. Prior to voting on the ordinances, Jeff Fritzen proposed an amendment to each ordinance lowering the amount of annual pay proposed. In the case of Mayoral pay, he proposed only bumping it to $25,000, and lowering the Council offering to $6,000.

Both of those suggested amendments were defeated – the mayoral pay reduction by a 4-2 count, with Council Members Kevin McCarthy and Fritzen voting for its passage, while Koos, and Council Members R. C. McBride, Kathleen Lorenz, and Chemberly Cummings voted it down. Council Member Scott Preston was not present at the meeting. Fritzen’s other suggested amendment, to cap an increase in Council members’ pay at an annual $6,000, failed on a 5-1 vote, with Fritzen being the only member favoring it.

Voting on the original Mayoral pay raise to $32,000 annually passed by a 4-2 vote, with Fritzen and Lorenz voting against it. Voting on the original Council members’ pay hike also passed by a 4-2 count, with Lorenz and McBride voting against it.

Both the public and Council members had their say during the session. Andy Shirk, president of Beer Nuts, Inc., told Council members he supported the increase because “I believe the Mayor and the Council are under-compensated due to the time commitment and personal financial burdens placed on each of you for you to serve our town.”

Former Council candidate Ron Ulmer expressed the opinion the Council should consider passing term limits laws for all of its elected offices and appointed boards. Doing that, he said, would reduce any financial burden on the Town. “I do not any longer vote for anyone who has held the same elected office for 12 years or more. I urge Normal to lead the way to vote for term limits.”

Former Normal Mayoral Candidate Marc Tiritilli told Council members some citizens do not see all of the functions Council members attend as being defined as essential to the post, citing marching in parades as an example. “If we can justify that there has been a significant step-by-step increase in duties, then great,” Tiritilli said, adding, “Personally, I haven’t seen it. If this is a 40-hour plus position, then let’s make it a full-time job. But I need to see the justification for why the pay has to go up so much.”

New Fire Station Land Rezoned: Council members unanimously and without discussion voted to approve rezoning land at the corner of N. Main St. and S. University on which the Town’s new fire station and headquarters is located. As a result of the vote, the land will now be rezoned S-2 Public Lands and Institutions from its previous designation of B-1 General Business.

In 2017, the Town and Illinois State University used a land swap so the new fire station could be build on properties previously addressed as 602, 604, 606, and 608 S. Main St., and portions of 601 and 603 S. University St. On Dec. 6, a public hearing was held by Normal Planning Commission but no one spoke at that hearing. Commission members voted 6-0 to pass the rezoning request which was sent to the Council to receive final approval.

Community Investment Plan Approved: Council members unanimously approved a motion approving the Fiscal Year 2018-19 to Fiscal Year 2023-24 Community Investment Plan. Presented in a review to Council members by Town Finance Director Andrew Huhn, CIP is used by Town Council members prioritize capital investments.

CIP for FY 2018-19 through FY 2023-24 includes a total of 124 capital projects with an approximate cost spent on them of roughly $88.3 million. CIP also flags potential additional projects with a total cost to complete them during the period of $111.8 million. Those additional projects, however, are not being recommended during the six year period, Huhn explained.

Five categories CIP is spent on are public facilities, capital assets, developing transportation, development of parks and open space, and utility service. The amount of money sought to be spent during the five year period ending in 2024 is over $6 million less than was planned by the Town to be spent during 2018-2023 CIP.

Committee Appointments Announced: Fritzen announced a number of recommended appointments to a Board and a Committee before the session ended. He announced that Tracie Henry has been appointed to the Children’s Discovery Museum Board of Directors. Henry is an assistant executive director at Illinois High School Association. Henry is filling an open seat on the Board for a term that will expire on June 30, 2022.

Three new members were appointed to the Sister Cities Committee and were announced at this meeting. Patrick Clapper of Normal will join the committee. An employee of State Farm Insurance, Clapper formerly lived and worked in Japan and has been active in the Sister Cities Program. Hudson resident Sally Modine is employed by Normal-based Unit 5 School District, assigned to Kingsley Junior High School. In addition to her own involvement with Sister Cities, Modine’s son, Nicholas, participated in the Program’s Junior Ambassador exchange to Asahikawa. Ryan Apple, the third appointee to the committee, was himself an exchange student in the Junior Ambassador program. His grandmother also had served on the Sister Cities Committee. One of these three will fill a vacancy on the committee created by the departure of Toyoka Nishikara.

Convention And Visitors Bureau Bylaws Change Allows Appointments: As a result of Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau adopting a revised and updated set of bylaws, part of those bylaws allow for Normal’s mayor to appoint four board members to CVB. The four Koos appointed are: Migidi Tembo, general manager of Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel; Beth Whisman, cultural director for the Town; and Council Members Kathleen Lorenz and Kevin McCarthy.

Liquor Commission Approves License, Levies Fines: Serving in their capacity as Normal Local Liquor Commission, Council members approved a liquor license application for Kam Liquors, Inc., doing business as Budget Liquors at 200 S. Linden St . The establishment applied for a Class A (All Liquor – Off-Premises Consumption — Package).

Commission members voted unanimously to approve settlements with six establishments, the managers of which have all submitted guilty pleas and paid fines to the Town. Normal Catering, doing business as Bloomington-Normal Marriott, 201 Broadway, was fined $500 for what was a second offense in two years. The Town discovered the violation during a liquor audit on Sept. 20.

Also fined $500 for a second offense was also levied against Freedom Oil Co., 601 S. Main St . , for selling alcohol to a person under age 21, the result of a liquor audit on Nov. 5. This business has paid the fine.

Three other establishments saw settlements with the Town of their cases, as well. All three were fined $250, which as been paid. Highland Management Group LLC, doing business as Diamonds, furnished liquor to a person under age 21 during a liquor audit Sept. 20. This was the first offense for this establishment.

Freedom Oil Co., doing business as Freedom Oil Co., 601 S. Main St ., furnished liquor to a person under age 21 during that same audit. The Town fined the business $250 for what was a first offense in the last four years, and the fine has been paid.

Also fined as a result of the Sept. 20 audit was Schnuck’s Markets, Inc., doing business as Schnuck’s, 1750 Bradford Lane . The business sold alcohol to a person under age 21. Schnuck’s management was fined $250 which it has paid to the Town. This was a first offense for this store in 11 years.

Two other establishments were in the midst of negotiating a settlement with the Town when the Council agenda was released Dec. 14. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., doing business as Chipotle Mexican Grill #1633, 701 S. Main St., was found to have furnished alcohol to a person under age 21. Settlement arrangements with the Town are in progress. The other establishment is Bradford Lane Italian Foods, LLC, doing business as Rosati’s Pizza of Normal, 1720 Bradford Lane , which was found to have furnished alcohol to a person under age 21. Rosati’s is also in working out settlement arrangements with the Town.

Omnibus Agenda Items Approved: Council members used an omnibus vote to approve the following agenda items:

• Approve the minutes of the Strategic Planning Session Oct. 18, 2018.

• Approve the minutes of the Strategic Planning Session Oct. 19, 2018.

• Approve the minutes of the Special Meeting Nov. 2, 2018.

• Approve the minutes of the Public Hearing Dec. 3, 2018.

• Approve the minutes of the Regular meeting Dec.3, 2018.

• A resolution waiving the formal bid process and authorizing the purchase of a 2018 Ford Explorer in the amount of $25,380 from Greenfield, Ill.-based Morrow Brothers Ford, Inc., an authorized vendor for the State of Illinois Joint Purchasing Program.

• A resolution authorizing the execution of an intergovernmental agreement with McLean County for centralized booking services.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and executing an agreement with Chicago-based Redbox Workshop for design, fabrication, and installation of the ImagineAir exhibit at the Children’s Discovery Museum in an amount not to exceed $127,500.

• A motion extending the Diabetes Management Program for one year.

By Steve Robinson | December 3, 2018 - 10:46 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – Normal Town Council members voted unanimously to approve a resolution authorizing the Town’s Community Development Block Grant Citizen Participation Plan be filed with the Federal government’s Department of Housing and Urban Development, also known as HUD.

Council members voted to give approval to the CDBG Citizen Participation Plan in December 2012, and the plan has received updates over time since then, according to a report submitted to Council members by Town Associate Planner Taylor Long.

The Citizen Participation Plan has outlined within it, according to Long’s report: A cooperative, intergovernmental approach to addressing housing issues in the area; and instructions to guide the public’s submitting of comments and standards for the Town’s and City of Bloomington’s responses to those public submissions.

A 15-day public comment period was in effect for citizens to sign up to speak at a hearing held prior to the vote. That hearing took place prior to the regular Town Council session Monday night in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station. Taylor Long, Associate Town Planner, told Council members what the Town hears at these public hearings will help in determining how the money will be spent.

At Monday’s session, Council members got a sampling of what might come when the public is given the chance to address the plan. John Wolter told Council members a recreational area would be appreciated for consideration for that end of Town.

Former Normal Town Council Candidate Ron Ulmer suggested the Town look to help convert struggling hotel properties into affordable housing. He said the abandoned student housing complex on Shelbourne Dr. would be an example of property the Town could try to make into affordable housing. He points out that housing complex has sat vacant for three years.

Ulmer also said he would like to see area school libraries stay open to help kids keep their skills up to date for when they go back to class in the fall.

City Manager Pam Reece told Council members the Town wants interested citizens to become involved in the process of helping determine ways the CDBG funding could be spent. “We want the public’s help when it comes time to determine our priorities and needs on where it’s most appropriate to spend those CDBG dollars.”

Property Tax Levy For 2018 Approved: By unanimous vote without discussion, Council members approved an ordinance authorizing the 2018 property tax levy. The 2018 levy totals $12,958,494 for the second straight year. That amount is unchanged from last year. It’s an increase of $783,694 from the 2016 levy, an increase of 6.44 percent. A public hearing was required to be held prior to the vote because the increase in the property tax was over five percent.

General fund operations and Normal Public Library operations funding were the only two of the levy’s six components that have no dollar increases mentioned. They are the only funds that have local control, as well.

The other four components do have increases and break down this way: The police pension contribution was increased by 7.92 percent, or $181,991, to $2,478,591, and Fire pension contribution was increased by 7.45 percent, or $155,190, to $2,239,390. However, Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund contribution was decreased by 18.59 percent, to $1,401,811, a change of $320,119 less than last year. The Town’s annual Medicare/Social Security contribution also registered a decrease versus last year’s figures, as well. That Town contribution for 2018 was $1,334,902, a decrease of $17,062, or 1.26 percent. The Town, by State law, must maintain contributions to these four funds.

Normal Town Council controls only roughly 17 percent of a resident’s tax bill with 11.9 percent of that figure going to the Town and 5.1 percent going to Normal Public Library.

Tax Abatement Ordinances Approved: Council members unanimously approved 11 ordinances required to abate $6,148,053 in property taxes from Special Service Area Bonds issued in 2004; 2009 bonds issued in July 1009 to refund a 2003 bond; 2009(A) bonds issued in July 2009 (Build America Bonds); 2010(A) bonds issued 2010 (Recovery Zone Bonds): 2012 bonds issued September 2012 to refund 2004 bonds; 2013 bonds issued November 2013 to refund 2005 bonds; 2014 bonds issued November 2014; 2016(A) bonds issued March 2016 to refund 2006 bonds; 2016(B) bonds issued March 2016; 2017(A) bonds issued March 2017 to refund 2007 bonds; 2017(B) bonds issued March 2017 to refund 2007 bonds; and 2018 bonds issued March 2018 to refund 2008 bonds.

State law requires McLean County to levy property taxes for payment of those bonds. Municipalities are allowed to abate bonds provided there is enough funding on hand to pay principal and interest amounts. Rather than tax citizens to raise the funds for this purpose, the Town budgets money from other sources such as its general, sewer, and water funds to handle meeting that obligation.

Omnibus Items Approved: Council members also used an omnibus vote to approve the following agenda items:

• Approval of minutes of the regular meeting of Nov. 19, 2018.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Nov. 28, 2018.

• A resolution extending a license agreement with Peoria Charter Coach Co. for access to Uptown Station as a transportation provider.

• A resolution authorizing the execution of an intergovernmental agreement for the police shooting range facility with the City of Bloomington.

• An ordinance modifying Division 1 of Chapter 5 of the Town of Normal Municipal Code (Police Dept.) to authorize fingerprint services.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding procurement process and authorizing a three-year service agreement with Evoqua Water Technologies LLC and installation of odor control and corrosion protection measures at the Northbridge Pump Station and authorizing an associated budget adjustment.

• A motion to approve the year 2019 meeting calendar.

• A motion to authorize an amendment to the fiscal year 2018-19 Illinois Employer Social Security and Medicare budget for the general fund.

By Steve Robinson | November 19, 2018 - 10:41 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – Beginning in mid-December, those persons who choose to stay in lodging known as AirBnBs – private residences which offer a room with a bed and breakfast to total strangers for a charge – will, just like hotels and motels do currently, be required to pay taxes to the Town of Normal . That’s the result of a unanimous vote by Normal Town Council members at the governing body’s regular meeting in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station Monday night.

The ordinance take effect April 1, as a result of the Council vote, and would impose a 6 percent rental charge for customers’ lodging bill, explained City Manager Pam Reece. Six percent is the current amount charged as a result of the Town’s hotel/motel tax.

In a report to Council members, Reece less than 25 properties are listed on short-term rental websites with that amount slated to increase. Airbnb states a total of 16 properties are listed for this type of lodging in the past three years – 6 entire homes that could be rented; 9 with private rooms, and one that provides a shared room.

Houses could be rented at $100 per night with individual rooms going for $60 per night, according to Reece’s report. The tax is paid by guests at AirBnBs and collected by that company’s corporate entity. Websites which help promote short term rental companies will be notified by the Town to make AirBnB operators of their responsibility to collect the tax and pay the Town.

In a public comment to Council members, Ray Ceresa, president of Bloomington-Normal Hotel and Lodging Association told Council members hotels associated with the group “are not afraid to compete with AirBnBs.”

AirBnBs “are not what I bought into when I bought in my neighborhood,” stated Council Member Jeff Fritzen. “These are businesses and they should contribute taxes as businesses do.” Council Member Chemberly Cummings said she sees AirBnB operators paying the tax as a means “of paying a fair share.”

Council Member Kathleen Lorenz asked Reece how payment of the tax would be enforced. Reece replied the Town will do “spot checks and respond to complaints from neighbors.”

Ordinance Prohibiting Minors Using E-Cigs, Vaping, Unanimously Passes: Council members unanimously passed an ordinance amending Town Code to prohibit the sale of tobacco, nicotine, and smoking devices including vapor, cigars, cigarettes and pipes to minors. The ordinance will be put into effect December 1, Reece stated in a written report to Council members.

Vendors caught selling tobacco or related products to minors will be subject to a $50 fine for a first offense. Normal Police conducts audits of businesses selling tobacco in Town.

Members of an Illinois State University advocacy group called Tobacco 21 Coalition brought the idea for this action to Council members during the annual Town-ISU Meet And Greet event held Oct. 1 at Medici Restaurant in Uptown.

At least 20 states have adopted legislation at State level and 26 communities in Illinois , including Peoria and Washington, have adopted similar ordinances.

Boy Scout’s Project Leads To Lights At Grandview & Vernon: Council members also unanimously passed a motion approving criteria and analysis for installation of flashing LED stop signs and authorizing installation of the signs at the intersection of Vernon Ave. and Grandview Dr., and approving an associated budget adjustment of $3,500.

But this was one time such action was taken because the Town found it necessary and took action, but rather they were made aware of the situation by a resident – one who approached the Town to aid in a project in order to work toward earning a Boy Scout merit badge in Citizenship.

Jack DeKeersgieter, an eighth grade student at Chiddix Junior High School approached the Town about putting in an embedded LED stop sign or flashing LED stop sign at the intersection in question for among other reasons that the intersection had sight restrictions and cars going through it at fairly high speeds. One pedestrian, Lanny Lobdell, was killed two years ago at the intersection DeKeersgieter was lobbying for installing such a sign.

In his quest to see the signs getting placed, DeKeersgieter involved administrators at Colene Hoose Elementary School and contacting Town Council members Kevin McCarthy and Lorenz. He said he also met with Lobdell’s widow, as well as with Hoose Principal Adam Zbrozek.

DeKeersgieter was invited by Mayor Chris Koos to sit at the speaker’s table and explain to Council members why he felt the need to take on this project. As he explained his need to become involved in getting the project started, he was flanked by Town Public Works Director Wayne Aldrich and Town Engineer Ryan Otto.

“My mom and I brainstormed ideas and she talked about the intersection, where a car ran a stop sign and accidentally caused the death of Mr. Lanny Lobdell in August 2016,” DeKeersgieter told Council members. “I chose this issue right away because it made me feel sad Mr. Lobdell lost his life there and couldn’t spend more time with his family. I didn’t want any other person or kid from my old school, Colene Hoose, to die, too, when it could be safer for the school and Constitution Trail with a blinking LED stop sign.”

Omnibus Agenda Items Approved: Omnibus agenda items approved by the Council included:

• Approval of the minutes of the regular meeting of Nov. 5, 2018.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Nov. 14, 2018.

• A resolution to waive the formal bidding process and authorize a contract with Bloomington-based Stark Excavating, Inc. to perform emergency creek bank erosion repairs and stabilization in Sugar Creek for an amount not to exceed $319,000 and authorizing an associated budget adjustment.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing a contract with Electronics Recycling Services for calendar year 2019.

• A resolution authorizing a three-year contract with Monee , Ill.-based Cardno, Inc. fro Riparian area maintenance in an amount not to exceed $80,000 per year.

• A resolution authorizing execution of an intergovernmental agreement with storm water education services provided by the Ecology Action Center for a period not to exceed three years.

By Steve Robinson | November 5, 2018 - 10:53 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – Residents concerned about the prospect of having a new fire station in their neighborhood brought their concerns to Normal Town Council members at the governing body’s regular meeting in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station Monday night.

Council members unanimously approved an ordinance authorizing City Manager Pamela Reece to negotiate and execute a contract for the purchase of property at 1438 Hershey Rd. Putting the new fire station in the Hershey Road location, according to a memo prepared for Council members by Town Corporation Counsel Brian Day, would “improve service east of Veterans Parkway and would replace the current fire station on College Ave.”

Undeveloped property in the Blackstone Trails Subdivision was considered an appropriate site for the new fire station. The land is situated on the northeast corner of Hershey and Shepard Avenues.

The vote taken Monday was merely to get approval for the project to get underway. But the idea of a fire station being situated in their neighborhood brought out residents from that subdivision with concerns, among them that the station was a done deal with the ordinance discussed at the meeting.

What Council members, including R. C. McBride explained to the residents, numbering 20-25 who sat in the Chambers, was the vote was merely to get the process started. He and Reece explained to the residents that Normal Planning Commission members must examine the plan and approve it, after which, the final plan would return to Council members for a final vote. If the Planning Commission approves the plan, it would go back to the Town Council for approval.

When Council gets it back for a vote, one thing they will have to do is vote to rezone the land the fire station will sit on. That area is zoned for R-2 Mixed Residences and R-1B Single Family Residences. A fire station would need to be zoned S-1 Public Lands and Institutions.

Normal Planning Commission could get the proposed fire station land item on their agenda as early as their December meeting. Among five residents who asked to address the Council, was Don Byrd. He wanted to know from Council members if other properties were considered.

Another speaker was Pat Dullard, a member of Friends of Constitution Trail, reminded Council members there needed to be access to the Trail from the subdivision. Resident Don Byrd asked the Council if other properties were considered.

Resident Michael Pauken told Council members, “This was thrown at us at the last minute. We would have liked to have more time to meet with the Town.” He said he believes the subdivision’s residents “should get compensation for decreased property values.”

Reece informed the gathering a location analysis was done by the Town using Geographic Information System, or GIS, and that response time to emergency calls was among the reasons for the site being chosen. She added Normal Fire Department ran distance tests to help determine where the new fire station should be located.

NFD Chief Mick Humer told Council members using Veterans Parkway to get to calls from the station’s current location “has caused slowdowns trying to get to call scenes.” He cited taking 9 minutes to get to Normal Community High School. He explained that under fire prevention standards, that’s too much time.

Humer added the new station, which would replace one currently located at the corner of College Ave. and Blair Dr., would sit off of Shepard, with the building’s living quarters facing Shepard Rd. on the east, and the fire apparatus on the west side of the building toward Hershey Rd. He said the Town would plant trees near the station to reduce noise levels. He explained it would be manned by three firefighters and three Emergency Medical Technicians.

Rooming House Gets Special Use Permit: Council members unanimously approved an ordinance granting a special use permit for a rooming house to the owner of 904 W. Hovey Ave. The building has been operating under such a permit since 1981 when Council members approved such a permit for Sigma Nu fraternity.

The building’s new owner plans on renovating the front of the building, including a two-story wrap-around addition with an enclosed stair tower. There would be 22 parking spaces, including one that is ADA-compliant. Town Code requires such rooming houses have a parking space per 2 roomers plus an additional two spaces. Fifty residents would require 27 spaces. As a result, the owner is asking for a variance.

Ordinance Approving Prep Of 2018 Property Tax Levy OK’d: Council members unanimously approved a motion authorizing for the preparation of the 2018 Property Tax Levy. The proposed tax levy will result in property tax revenue totaling $12,958,494 for the Town in fiscal year 2019-20. The Town’s Property Tax rate, including Normal Public Library, is expected to decrease by 1.53 cents, from $1.4910 to $1.4757, or a drop of 1.03 percent. That decrease would translate into a homeowner of a $150,000 residence seeing their tax bill go down by $7.50.

Board And Commissions Update: Appointments to one Board and two commissions were announced by Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Fritzen. Patrick Bane was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Children’s Discovery Museum Board. A resident of Arrowsmith, Bane, a third generation farmer and member of Illinois Farm Bureau, has been active with the Museum at the McLean County Fair. He is filling a vacant seat with an initial term that expires June 30.

Jennifer Swartout, dean of humanities at Illinois Central College, has resided in Normal since 2013 and will fill the vacancy on the Normal Planning Commission as a result of Michael McFarlane’s moving from Normal.

Carl Teichman, named Normal’s Citizen of the Year in 2017, has been reappointed to the McLean County Regional Planning Commission. His new term expires Dec. 31, 2021.

Omnibus Agenda Items Approved: Omnibus agenda items approved by the Council included:

• Approval of the minutes of the regular meeting of Oct. 15, 2018.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Nov. 1, 2018.

• A resolution requesting permission to close a portion of U. S. Highway 51 for the annual Jaycees Christmas Parade.

• A resolution of financial commitment and acknowledgement of the Town’s support for a Safe Routes To School Grant Application for improvements to Chiddix Junior High School at 300 S. Walnut.

• A resolution to waive the formal bidding process and authorize a contract with Normal-based SCADAware, Inc. to install upgrades at the Northbridge Sanitary Sewer Pump Station in the amount of $28,269.

• A resolution to waive the formal bidding process and authorize a contract with Hoerr Construction, Inc. for sanitary sewer repairs on Poplar St. in the amount not to exceed $162,000 and approving an associated budget adjustment.

• A resolution conditionally and partially approving a final plat within one and one-half miles of corporate limits by expedited process – Schaab Subdivision (northwest corner of Linden St. and Kerrick).

• A resolution conditionally approving an amended final development plan – Phase 2 of the J&M Planned Unit Development (Cottage Ave.).

• A motion to release school land dedication fees to McLean County Unit 5 School District.