At a Normal Town Council meeting before he was elected a member of the Council in April, Stan Nord was a citizen refusing to pay a fee of $11,900 on land he owns at 2012 W. College Ave. Nord bought the property in 2017 and contends he won’t pay a fee that otherwise would have already been taken care of before now when sewer service was activated for that area.

At Monday’s Normal Town Council session held in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station, and with Nord recusing himself from the discussion as a Council member, Council members voted 5-0 to conditionally approve the final plat of a subdivision property Nord owns at 2012 W. College Ave.

The central concern in this matter is needing to pay sewer “tap-on” fee, which the Town imposes for properties where there are additional structures added to properties. The Town does this as a means to recoup costs. Both sides in this matter admit the fee in question should have been paid to the Town by a previous owner of the property Nord now owns.

Council members unanimously decided not to waive the fee Nord said shouldn’t be assessed to his property and is refusing to pay it. Nord bought the property in 2017 and contends he won’t pay a fee that otherwise would have already been handled before now when sewer service was activated for that area.

In addition to Nord excusing himself from the Council dais for the conversation on the matter, Mayor Chris Koos was away on business.

Council Member Karyn Smith, newly-elected with Nord in April, made a motion to have the Town waive the fee, but no other Council member seconded her motion.

Nord’s Pekin-based attorney, Ryan Powers, reasoned with Council members that prior owners of the land were allowed to use the property without the need to have it platted. He called the fee “burdensome.”

Media reports following the meeting indicated Powers informed reporters he and Nord will discuss considering whether to file suit in McLean County Circuit Court over the fee for his 2012 W. College Ave. land that both sides admit should have been paid by a previous owner.

Council Member Chemberly Cummings took issue with Nord’s approach in handling the matter with the Town. Smith then questioned whether Town Corporation Counsel Brian Day wasn’t tangled in a conflict of interest by representing the Town in a potential legal disagreement with a Council member. Day told Smith he represents “the corporate entity that is the Town.”

The land in question was developed without being platted in the 1970s, Day told Council members. He added tap on fees are not charged until the land is platted.

Council Approves Rezoning: Council members unanimously approved an ordinance which rezoned two properties for which the owner of the structures sought rezoned from B-1 General Business to R-3A Medium Density. The properties, whose owner is not identified in Town paperwork, are located at 803 Kern and 910 Kingsley. The rezoning was sought so that be used for multifamily use extensively rather than having to have a B-1 zoning designation for first floor occupants.

The owner sought more flexibility in use of the property granted by the zoning change, according to the report prepared for Council members by Town Planner Mercy Davison. The property at 803 Kern is a three-story structure while 910 Kingsley is a 2 ½ story structure with residents living on the upper floors.

Nussbaum Transportation Granted Expansion: Council members unanimously approved a pair of resolutions which will allow Nussbaum Transportation to expand their operations. The first resolution gives the okay for the business, located at 19336 N. 1425 East Rd., approving execution of a pre-annexation agreement with the Town. Nussbaum recently purchased 29 acres directly south of the current headquarters and 20 acres north of that facility. There are residences near that end of the expanding property.

A second resolution unanimously passed by Council members conditionally approved the final plat for his second subdivision to complete the expansion. Nussbaum’s plan went before a Normal Planning Commission public hearing on May 9 where only the applicant and his engineer addressed Commission members, after which the Commission voted 6-0 to approve the plan, which sent it on to Normal Town Council.

With regard to the annexation, subdivision, and development of the property, Nussbaum would receive reimbursement from the Town of the lesser between actual costs or $50,000, under the terms of the agreement between Nussbaum and the Town.

Public Comments Center On Connect Transit: During the public comments section of the meeting, citizens representing Citizens To Ensure Fair Transit, addressed Council members. Citizens To Ensure Fair Transit is a group looking for representation on the Board of the company which runs in-town bus service, Connect Transit. There is currently an open seat on the board for a Normal resident.

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

• Approval of the minutes of the Council’s regular meeting held May 6, 2019.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of May 15, 2019.

• A resolution accepting the low bid and awarding a contract to Astoria, Ill.-based K. K. Stevens Publishing Co. for the printing of the Parks and Recreation Department’s fall, winter/spring, and summer activity guides in the amount of $30,423.61.

• A resolution authorizing execution of an agreement with Naperville-based Hitchcock Design Group for professional design services for Maxwell Park Renovations in the amount of $91,700.

• A resolution waiving bids and authorizing the purchase of five Otterbine industrial aerators from Berkeley, Mo.-based MTI Distributing in the amount of $39,121.03.

• A resolution approving a memorandum of understanding with Illinois State University providing for audible/accessible traffic signal improvements at the intersection of College Ave. and University St.

NORMAL – Two first-time Normal Town Council members and a third who won a second term in April 2’s general election were sworn in to begin the regularly-scheduled session of the governing body’s meeting Monday night in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station.

The evening began with Council Member Kathleen Lorenz being sworn in for her second term, with newcomers Stan Nord and Karyn Smith being sworn in for their first terms. But from the outset, the session slowed due to a number of items brought about in public comments and a discussion about a related item to be paid by the Town.

Among five people who spoke in public comments were members of an organized group who are advocating prevention of possible changes proposed by the local public transportation service, Connect Transit.

Connect Transit has proposed ending the Olive Route, which, in part, serves residents on low incomes. That route is slated to cease running July 1. Christopher Calhoun, speaking on behalf of Bloomington-based Life Center For Independent Living, or LIFE-CIL, stated the organization has been made aware of barriers which keep disabled persons from having access to Connect Transit’s service. He said the disabled in the community “are facing increased barriers. He stated the organization does not support an increase in fares and route reductions as proposed by Connect Transit. The transportation company has proposed raising its initial boarding fare from $1 to $1.25 effective Oct. 1.

Calhoun asked Council members to work to see to it routes aren’t eliminated and fares aren’t increased until barriers disabled face to use the service are eliminated. He was joined by three other speakers who shared similar views.

As the omnibus vote agenda was presented for votes by the Council at one time, Nord asked to pull the budget to discuss an item related to transportation – a payment to Connect Transit of $75,158.33 for what the line item called “capital and operation subsidy.”

Nord said the funds should go to those who are helped by subsidized transit. “The focus needs to go back to those who need the service who can’t afford to or have no regular means of transportation,” he said. He recommended the Council withhold the funding until Connect Transit representatives address the Council.

City Manager Pam Reece explained to Nord that the amount in question was helpful to Connect Transit during two years of former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration when the State failed to produce an annual budget. That took place from July 1, 2015 to August 31, 2017, through fiscal years 2016 and 2017 and part of FY 2018.

Reece reminded the Twin Cities split what they pay Connect Transit for its efforts in a 60 percent-40 percent split, with Normal contributing the smaller percentage. When the Council voted on the overall budget, the tally was 6-1 in favor with Nord casting the lone opposing vote.

CDBG Action Plan Approved: There were questions concerning another omnibus item relating to the Town filing its Community Development Block Grant Action Plan for program year 2019. That item, after a brief discussion, was approved unanimously.

Ordinance Adds Brandt Enterprises To Enterprise Zone: Council members unanimously approved the expansion of an enterprise zone to include property on which Brandt Industries is planning an expansion of its manufacturing facility. Doing that would expand the enterprise zone bordered by Bloomington-Normal, McLean County, Gibson City, and Ford County. Brandt has estimated the cost of the constructed expansion to the facility will cost $35 million.

Brandt Industries purchased the property formerly owned by Kongskilde Industries in 2018.

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

• Approval of the minutes of the regular Council meeting of April 15, 2019.

• A resolution authorizing procurement and fiscal management authority for the 2018 Transportation & Land Use Connection Grant to the Town Staff in the amount of $40,340 and authorizing an appropriate budget adjustment.

By Steve Robinson | April 19, 2019 - 10:44 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – April 15 marked the last Normal Town Council meeting for two of the governing body’s members – one who wrapped up serving a third term for a second time before deciding not to run for re-election, and one who was looking to continuing on the Council beginning his second term.

For Jeff Fritzen, a number of factors came into play for him to make his decision last fall to not seek another term. At 66, Fritzen has served Normal Town Council as a member in two separate but lengthy stints. He first ran and won in 1983. He ran for re-election three times before opting for a break prior to the next election in 1999. His hiatus from local politics lasted one election cycle and he returned to the Council after winning election again in 2003. Since then, he has run in and won re-election three more times.

For 45-year-old R. C. McBride, his venture as general manager of WGLT FM 89.1, the National Public Radio affiliate operated by Illinois State University will get a little busier as it was recently announced WGLT will begin taking over operation of Bradley University’s NPR affiliate, WCBU FM 88.9.

But when the ballots were counted, newcomer Stan Nord led the race garnering 2,928 votes, or 19.60 percent of the vote, leading all competitors. And he wasn’t the only newcomer now with a seat on the dais in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station.

Karyn Smith finished third in the race which had two incumbents, six declared challengers, and a write-in candidate. Smith had 2,092 votes, or 14.01 percent of the vote. Incumbent Kathleen Lorenz placed second in the results with 2,165, or 14.50 percent of the vote. McBride placed fourth in his quest for a second term on the Council, receiving 1,913 votes, or 12.81 percent of the vote. Challengers Dave Shields, Pat Turner, Joel Studebaker, and ISU student Alex Campbell placed fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth, respectfully, in the final tally. Write-in candidate Karl Sila placed ninth.

Fritzen Sought What’s Best For The Town: “There’s always a degree of uncertainty when you remove yourself from something like this and your hope is the Council can continue to function as it has in the past for the benefit of the Town,” explained Fritzen, executive vice president at Bloomington Offset Process, Inc. “We had a transition recently with a new city manager and now a transition with a couple new Council people, so those things present challenges and they present opportunities.” Last spring, Deputy City Manager Pam Reece was named to succeed Mark Peterson as City Manager upon his retirement.

For himself, Fritzen said, “Personally, I think I have just reached a point where, for me, to be involved in something like the Council, your heart has to be in it 100 percent. It got to a point that I couldn’t guarantee that.” He said he will now encourage, support, and observe the actions of Council from the sidelines.

Fritzen’s decision came, he said, after “several weeks of what’s best for the Town, what’s best for me, for my family.” He said he also checked himself on how he gauged his level of commitment which being a Council member requires. He said that included reflecting on the level of involvement he had dedicated to the post in the past. “I think I came to that point to where it was time to step aside. I stepped aside because I didn’t feel I could bring the same level of commitment to the office” that had been put forth in the past.

Fritzen said he leaves local politics with no unfinished business still needing addressing. “I wasn’t one to bring my own personal agenda to the office,” he said. He added that the only times he had any kind of goal-setting related to seeking office was related to the proposed Uptown redevelopment plan, and in 2005 when he ran for mayor, squaring off against current incumbent Chris Koos.

McBride Eyeing Improvements To Benefit Normal Library: For R. C. McBride, general manager of ISU’s NPR affiliate, the location of Normal Public Library and suggestions as to where a potential future library could be located were items he had considered addressing were he to have won election to a second term. “The library’s programming has clearly outgrown its footprint,” McBride said. “Whether that means rebuilding or upgrading on the current site, or building something in what would be Normal 2.0, something’s going to have to be done.” Uptown 2.0 is the name given to what the Town hopes will become the second phase of its master plan for continued growth and updating for the community.

“Every time there has been a large investment like that, the Town has had a revenue stream for it,” McBride reminded. At this point in time, he said, “there was no clear cut revenue stream for it.”

Both Fritzen and McBride praised the Town’s administrative staff for the work they do to help bring basic services to the residents of the Town.

Advice From Outgoing Members To Nord, Smith: As they exit the local political stage, Fritzen and McBride each had some advice to pass along to Nord and Smith as they prepare to take the oath of office to start May 6’s Council session.

“I would tell them you are elected to represent and not to look back over your shoulder and ask permission to represent,” Fritzen said. “Once you’re elected, you have to have an open mind. You have to see how things really work from the inside to gain an understanding.” He recommended Nord and Smith gain an understanding of how the Town operates, and to respect the roles of those in the positions of city manager as being its Chief Operating Officer, and their roles as Council members.

“Remember you’re not going to make everyone happy no matter what you do,” McBride added. “That’s one of the reasons the job is difficult. Another piece of advice is: When people are unhappy, don’t take it personally. It’s not necessarily about you as an individual.” He also suggested Nord and Smith keep a sense of humor.

By Steve Robinson | April 2, 2019 - 10:43 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite, Unit 5

NORMAL – Campaigning for tax incentives that benefit the community rather than to be considered useful to lure big name businesses to town, Stan Nord appears to have struck a chord with Normal residents if unofficial results from Tuesday’s Town Council election was any indication. Nord placed first in balloting in the election for a seat on the Normal Town Council. Results showed Nord received 2,873 votes, or 20 percent of the vote, leading all competitors.

And he wasn’t the only newcomer now with a seat on the dais in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station. Karyn Smith finished third in the race which had two incumbents, six declared challengers, and a write-in candidate. Smith had 2,043 votes, or 14.22 percent of the vote. Incumbent Kathleen Lorenz placed second in the results with 2,087, or 14.53 percent of the vote.

Incumbent R. C. McBride placed fourth in his quest for a second term on the Council, receiving 1,849 votes, or 12.87 percent of the vote. Challenger Dave Shields placed fifth receiving 1,558 votes or 10.85 percent of the vote. Challenger Pat Turner placed sixth with 1,425 votes, or 9.92 percent of the vote; Joel Studebaker placed seventh with 902 votes, or 6.28 percent; and ISU student Alex Campbell landed eighth with 616 votes, or 4.29 percent of the vote. Write-in candidate Karl Sila received no ballots, however there were 1,011 write-in votes submitted, accounting for 7.04 percent of ballots counted, unofficially.

However, there are still 350 mailed ballots yet to be counted by the County Clerk’s Office before the race results will be declared official.

Candidates were in two camps within walking distance of each other in Uptown to await results. One camp, comprised of Normal Town Council members and supporters and Shields checked results in the banquet room on the second floor of Medici Restaurant, while Turner, Studebaker, and Campbell were in the lounge of the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference Center with supporters. While Smith’s whereabouts Tuesday were not known, Nord, who had attended the Normal Town Council meeting Monday, said he planned to spend the evening gathering his campaign signs that had been distributed.

“I’m really disappointed R. C. didn’t prevail,” Mayor Chris Koos said afterward. “He has been a stalwart as a supporter of the community. But we have a new council and we have to move forward, and we have to be collegial and work together.” He said it will be up to the five members currently seated on the Council to set that trend for the new members.

Jeff Fritzen, who announced last fall after three terms on the Council recently, and had three terms on the Council in the 1980s and 1990s with one four-year hiatus in-between, said afterward, “I can’t say I’m shocked. I can say I’m disappointed. So many people have loved what’s been going on in the Town of Normal for the last 20 years, and then somebody who decided to be negative was the best way to run a campaign comes out as a leading vote-getter, and that’s a disappointment to me.”

Nord and Smith will take the oath of office along with Lorenz at the Council’s May 6 meeting.

Roser, Pyle, Kalitzky Win First Terms On Unit 5 Board: The last year for Normal-based Unit 5 School Board has been one of abrupt change. Within months of each other, three Board members submitted resignations, all the result of job transfers or job changes that had those members exiting the community. Three citizens stepped into to fill the posts knowing they would have to run for elected office in this election to keep their seats. All of them would be on the Board for four years.

Amy Roser assumed a seat on the Board last July filling a seat following the resignation of Jim Hayek, Jr. Hayek, a State Farm employee, left the area due to a job transfer in Phoenix, Ariz. last spring. Unofficial results show Roser was the leading vote recipient among the five contenders for the four-year term positions. The unofficial tally she received was 3,655 votes, or 23.62 percent of the vote.

Audiologist Dr. Kelly Pyle assumed a seat on the Board in August, filling a vacancy left by Joe Cleary, who departed for a job in California last summer. Pyle placed second among the four contenders seeking a Board seat. She got 3,319 votes, or 21.45 percent of the vote.

Barry Hitchins currently serves as Board President and came in third in the balloting to win his four-year term, with 3,004 votes, or 19.42 percent of the vote.

Alan Kalitzky is running for a first full term, coming in after applying for the position after David W. Fortner resigned last spring to take a job in Chicago. As a result of Tuesday’s balloting, Kalitzky placed fourth with 2,867 votes, or 18.53 percent of the vote.

LaNell Greenberg, prior to establishing a career as a consultant, worked for Unit 5 for 12 years. In Tuesday’s balloting, unofficial totals show she came in fifth registering 2,627 votes, or 16.98 percent of the vote.

Board members Mike Trask and Meta Mickens-Baker were up for reelection this time around for two-year stints on the Board, Mickens-Baker garnered 4,146 votes, or 50.05 percent of the vote while Trask garnered 41.38, or 49.95 percent of the vote.

By Steve Robinson | April 1, 2019 - 10:40 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council

NORMAL – A Normal resident’s attempt to expedite having Normal Town Council members approve a final plat of property he owns in a subdivision evolved into a disagreement over a fee the Town charges for sewer rates which, the resident and the Town admit should have been paid by the property’s prior owner.

The matter was further complicated by the fact that the resident lodging the complaint is also currently a candidate for an open seat on the Normal Town Council.

Stan Nord, one of nine candidates seeking to take a seat on the Council, accompanied by his attorney, Ryan Powers, addressed Council members during Monday’s regular Council session in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station, informed Council members he refuses to pay a sanitary sewer tap-in activation fee of $6,700 for land he owns at 2012 W. College Ave. Nord bought the property in 2017 and contends he won’t pay a fee that otherwise would have already been for before now when sewer service was activated for that area.

Brian Day, Corporation Counsel for the Town, explained fees stay in place and don’t “go away” even when the Town doesn’t collect such fees from previous owners of the property. He added Nord was aware of the cost of the fees because Nord exchanged emails with the Town about them.

Nord said if he were to take the situation into the courts, it would set a precedent for Normal being accused of charging “ghost charges.” Koos countered that, calling that notion “ridiculous” and “a wild accusation.”

With a 6-1 vote, Council members voted to send the matter to the Normal Planning Commission to review. Council Member Chemberly Cummings cast the lone opposing vote. Following the meeting, Nord told reporters the fact this matter came before the Council now was a coincidence. He added had it come up were he to be seated on the Council as a result of winning election, he would excuse himself from any Council discussion about it.

Nord is one of six residents who were running for an open seat on the Council with Council Member Jeff Fritzen’s decision last fall not to seek another term. Incumbents R. C. McBride and Kathleen Lorenz were also running each for a second term on the Council.

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

• Approval of the minutes of the regular meeting held on March 18, 2019.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of March 27, 2019.

• A resolution authorizing the execution of a three-year agreement with St. Louis, Mo.-based Gateway Fireworks Displays for the annual Fourth of July fireworks display.

• A resolution to accept bids and award a contract to Bloomington-based Stark Excavating, Inc. in the amount of $330,973.02 for the Underwood Park and Maxwell Park parking lots project, including the base bid, alternate 1 and alternate 2, and a related budget adjustment of $16,827.02.

• A resolution to award the bid for the Bryan Street water main replacement project to Bloomington-based George Gildner, Inc. at a total cost of $184,487 plus up to a potential $15,000 bonus for early completion.