By Steve Robinson | July 16, 2018 - 10:19 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – It took a quorum of four Normal Town Council members to vote unanimously to split the proposed area which would be a restaurant at the Uptown Circle development into space for two restaurants, or at least one restaurant and another type of establishment. Council members voted unanimously to pass an ordinance amending the development agreement concerning the ground floor of the building during the governing body’s regular session Monday night on the fourth floor of Uptown Station.

The developer, Uptown Circle Development, Inc., requested the amendment, according to a report to Council members prepared by City Manager Pam Reece.

Council Members Kevin McCarthy, Chemberly Cummings, and Jeff Fritzen were not present for the meeting.

In recent weeks, as Reece explained in her memo, Uptown Circle Development had altered its strategy for attracting a ground floor eatery for the building, deciding upon putting in two restaurants. As a result, the 6,700 sq. ft. which would have been meant all for one tenant will now be arranged for two separate eateries, one of which will have 3,700 sq. ft. and the other 3,000 sq. ft.

The developer had hoped to find a restaurant for the larger space and a non-restaurant tenant for the smaller unit, Reece’s report explained, if no second restaurant owner shows interest. Under the developer’s agreement with the Town, if the developer is unable to secure a dining establishment for the larger space, the developer must get prior permission from the Town before signing any agreement with a business that wants to occupy the space.

Friends Forever Students Visit Meeting: Five students each from Israel and Arab states visited Normal for the sixth year and as part of their visit which lasts a couple weeks in Town, one of the places they visited was Monday’s meeting. And as has taken place in the past when these students have been here, one student from each side addressed Council members. Yogev Elnaton and Rania Hieb, both 16-years-old, each addressed Council members. Elnaton said as part of the group’s work, “We think about all the bad things that have been done and how to fix it,” she said about one of the goals to help produce unity. Hieb said it was hoped that even with their different backgrounds, it “is hoped we will always find we will have something in common.”

Liquor Commission Approves Meeting Minutes: Prior to the start of the Council session, Council members, meeting as the Normal Local Liquor Commission, met in a regularly scheduled session and unanimously voted to approve meeting minutes of two prior meetings – a regularly scheduled meeting on March 19 and a special meeting held April 16.

Joint Councils Meet To Discuss Soccer Complex Study: Prior to the Council session, both Normal Town Council, Bloomington City Council members, were joined by members of the Bloomington-Normal Area Sports Commission to hear the results of a three-month study conducted by Clearwater, Fla.-based Sports Facilities Advisory concerning whether a multi-million dollar facility which would include soccer fields would be something the Twin Cities should pursue. The joint meeting was held at the Astroth Community Education Center on Heartland Community College’s campus.

Last Meeting For Communications Director Irvin: Monday’s meeting was the last one for Dan Irvin, Town Communications Director, who is retiring. Irvin has been in the position for three years. Among his duties was to respond to inquiries from media.

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

•Approval of the minutes of the regular Council meeting of July 2, 2018.

•Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of July 11, 2018.

•A resolution to award the bid for a service truck with utility body for the Water Department to Bloomington-based Leman Chevy City at a net cost of $30,396 including trade-in.

•A resolution approving waivers from the Uptown Design Review Code, Chapter 15, Division 17, for 202 W. College Ave. (Ecology Action Center sign).

•A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing the purchase of a Bobcat S650 Skid-Steer Loader from Bobcat of Bloomington via the Sourcewell Cooperative Purchasing Program, Contract #042815-CEC.

•A resolution authorizing a contract with Watseka, Ill.-based Freehill Asphalt Co. for the 2018 concrete pavement crack and joint sealing in the amount of $29,135.34.

•A resolution authorizing the execution of an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Bloomington, the County of McLean, and the McLean County Soil and Water Conservation District for the administration and implementation of watershed management programs.

•A resolution to appropriate $926,654 of Motor Fuel Tax funds for the bituminous resurfacing of various streets for the 2018 Motor Fuel Tax street resurfacing project.

•A resolution to appropriate $1.38 million of Motor Fuel Tax funds for the 2018-19 Glenn Ave. bridge reconstruction project.

•A resolution authorizing a contract with Insituform Technologies, Inc. for the 2018 sanitary sewer lining contract in the amount of $310,717.70.

•A resolution considering the release of executive session minutes from June 19, July 5, July 17, Aug. 11, Aug. 21, and Oct. 2, all 2017; and Jan. 2, 2018.

•An ordinance approving a parking license agreement between Normal Public Library, Rutherford Suites, LLC, and the Town of Normal.

•An ordinance amending the FY 2017-18 operating and capital investment budget.

•An ordinance adding Division 9 to Chapter 8 of the Town Municipal Code concerning the regulation of small wireless facilities.

NORMAL – Thanks to a 4-2 decision by Normal Town Council on an ordinance to be added to the Town Code, the Town will require occupants of multi-family dwellings to collect recyclable materials. The proposed implementation date is Aug. 1, 2019. But while its passage made going into effect cut and dried, there were concerns raised by Council members and some residents about the measure. Council Members Jeff Fritzen and Kathleen Lorenz cast opposing votes. Council Member Scott Preston was absent from the meeting.

The ordinance pertains to mobile home parks and all multi-family dwellings in the Town which currently don’t qualify for recycling collection from the Town’s public works department.

Seven citizens, both permanent residents of the Town and students of Illinois State University who live off-campus, spoke to Council members about the ordinance before Council members discussed and then voted on the measure.

Katy Haag, vice chair of the Student Sustainability Committee at ISU, told Council members she currently lives at an apartment complex that does not offer recycling and added, “I urge the Council to pass the ordinance to require the collection of recyclable materials. As contributing members of this community, students and others living in multi-family homes deserve the same easily accessible opportunities to recycling as do those living in single family homes.”

“As we all know, recycling is necessary, but the ordinance is flawed,” Normal resident and property owner Steve Snyder told Council members in explaining his opposition to it. The Snyder Companies, which Snyder is president of, owns a half-dozen large dwellings in the community. “This one size fits all ordinance does not work with all multi-family properties.” He said each property needs to discover how the recycling will work best individually rather than a Town-mandated policy to be followed by all property owners.

With two partners, Snyder owns 454-unit Ironwood Gardens Apartments where, Snyder said, if the ordinance was to go into effect as is, putting in the recycling container would cause that property to lose one, possibly two parking spaces to accommodate it.

Council Member Kathleen Lorenz stated she wanted the Council to consider tabling voting on the matter until all landlords had been heard from. She said she had heard from a group of landlords who say they hadn’t been contacted but wished they had been. That measure failed by a 4-2 vote, with Mayor Chris Koos, and Council Members Kevin McCarthy, Chemberly Cummings, and R. C. McBride carrying the majority.

In wanting further research on the matter, Lorenz explained after the meeting that the ordinance “did not fully incorporate, from what I heard from property owners, their input. That concerned me that that, perhaps, compromised the final version of the ordinance. I believe there could have been a better version of this ordinance had we postponed and allowed property owners to come back to the table.”

The ordinance requires property owners to contract with private collectors for recycling services, and private collectors are required to take the material to a qualified processor. In addition, collectors will file an annual report with Michael Brown, executive director of Ecology Action Center who serves as the person responsible for overseeing solid waste collection in the county.

A $100 per day fine will serve as the penalty for violating this code. At the end of March, the Town cut in half the number of drop box collection recycling centers available to Town residents, from eight to four. To gain insight regarding multifamily recycling programs, Town Staff held conversations with officials from three other University communities – Champaign, Urbana, and Iowa City, Iowa, according to a report prepared for Council members by Wayne Aldrich, director of public works.

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

• Approval of the minutes of the regular Council meeting of June 18, 2018.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of June 27, 2018.

• A resolution authorizing the execution of an agreement for technical planning services with the McLean County Regional Planning Commission.

• A resolution accepting bids and award a contract to Bloomington-based Rowe Construction Co., a division of United Contractors Midwest, Inc., in the amount of $1,853,275.84 for the 2017-18 general street resurfacing project, and to authorize a budget adjustment of $21,746.84.

• An ordinance modifying Section 17.3-4 of the Town of Normal Municipal Code – smoking regulatory act for Town-owned facilities prohibiting smoking within a distance of 25 feet of entries, outdoor air intakes, and operable windows.

By Steve Robinson | June 18, 2018 - 10:41 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – The committee that decides which non-profit groups should receive Harmon Arts Grants, named after and presented to winners by former Normal Mayor Paul Harmon and his wife, Sandy, found themselves with some extra cash thanks to one recipient from last year who was unable to fulfill the task they had asked grant money for.

City Manager Pam Reece explained the Galleries at Illinois State University returned to the committee $4,000 recently. The grant awards had already been announced late last month. But since then, the committee has awarded a little more to the smaller amounts some of the groups had asked for. Of the returned $4,000, the committee awarded an additional $1,500 to groups, making the total prize given out this year $26,500 instead of the $25,000 announced earlier. As a result of the reimbursed money, organizers of Concerts On The Quad at Illinois State University received a grant of $1,500.

Other grant recipients, and the grants they were awarded are: Illinois Symphony Orchestra, $2,000; Illinois State University’s Shakespeare Festival, $2,000; Prairie Fire Theatre, $2,000; YWCA Express Yourself, $1,950; Midwest Institute of Opera at ISU, $1,850; University Galleries at ISU, $1,750; Heartland Theatre, $1,500; McLean County Arts Center, $1,500; Twin Cities Ballet, $1,500; USA Ballet, $1,500; Further Jazz, $1,200; Illinois Chamber Music Festival at Illinois Wesleyan University, $1,200; Brass Band of Central Illinois, $1,100; Normal Community West High School Bands, $1,000; Sound Of Illinois, $1,000; Illinois Voices Theatre, $750; Community Players Theatre, $600; and Crossroads Area Student Theatre (CAST), $600.

As former Mayor Paul Harmon announced each winning group in reverse order, and Council members sat in the audience watching, Mayor Chris Koos handed the representative for the group an envelope with their grant money inside.

Council Discusses Money Spent On Riparian Waterways: In certain sections of Town, water and land mesh. Council members voted unanimously to spend $100,000, paying Monee-based Cardno, Inc. to see how such lands can be developed. Public Works Director Wayne Aldrich told Council members finding other communities which have such a unique situation with land and water would give Normal an opportunity for Normal to learn.

He answered a question put to him by Council Member Kathleen Lorenz by saying residents with these unique properties – part land and part water – as the water being part of their backyards. But he added, neighbors do complain about erosion.

Board Appointments And A Reappointment Approved: Council members approved two appointments to two separate commissions and a reappointment to another. As a result of their unanimous vote, Todd E. Bugg has been appointed to the Town’s Historic Preservation Commission. Bugg is filling the vacancy left as a result of the resignation of Kristen Allen. Bugg will be on the Commission to serve out the remainder of Allen’s term which expires on March 31. He graduated from University of Illinois and Illinois College of Law and has practiced law for 27 years. He is a partner in the firm of Dunn Law Firm, LLP.

As a result of another unanimous Council vote, Julie Hile has been appointed to the Board of Bloomington-Normal Public Transit System. Hile is filling a vacancy left by the resignation of Jennifer McDade, and her term will run July 1 through June 30, 2021. She is a senior performance consultant with the Hile Group.

Council members unanimously approved reappointing Ben Harmon to the Children’s Discovery Museum Foundation Board for a term which will expire on June 30, 2021.

Former City Manager Peterson Receives Honor: Normal ’s previous City Manager, Mark Peterson, received an award from his peers in that profession on June 14 in Collinsville . Peterson was presented with the Robert B. Morris Lifetime Achievement Award at a meeting of members of Illinois City/County Manager’s Association.

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

• Approval of the minutes of the regular Council meeting of June 4, 2018.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of June 13, 2018.

• A resolution conditionally reapproving a final plat for the first addition to the MP-One subdivision.

• A resolution awarding the bid for concrete to the low bidder, Bloomington-based Stark Excavating, Inc. at a price per cubic yard of $103 for High Early Mix and $89 for S. I. Mix.

• A resolution authorizing a contract with Hoerr Construction, Inc. for the 2018 sanitary and storm sewer cleaning and televising contract in the amount of $341,690.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing the City Manager to enter into a contract with Lake Mary, Fla.-based Superion, LLC for the purchase of TRAKiT software and related professional services.

• An ordinance amending the Town Liquor Code concerning video gaming for pari-mutuel premises and concerning secondary premises licenses for limited hour licenses.

By Steve Robinson | June 1, 2018 - 10:17 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – Prior to the regular meeting of Normal Town Council members on June 18 in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station, the Town will award their annual Harmon Arts Grant to groups which applied for them in hopes of being able to enrich the community through their talents.

The list of 18 groups who will share in grants totaling $25,000 was approved by Council members as part of that omnibus vote at Monday’s Council session. Other than omnibus items, there were no general orders or new business at this meeting.

The Town received a total of 28 applications for grants totaling $74,297. That figure is down from last year when the Town received 30 grant requests totaling $90,067, according to a report prepared for Council members by Interim City Manager Teri Legner.

Although none of the groups receiving a grant applied for one this large, the maximum grant awarded is $5,000, and the programs or projects receiving grant money must be taking place between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019. Former Mayor Paul Harmon, current Mayor Chris Koos, City Manager Pam Reece, and Legner make up the committee to determine grant winners.

The Harmon Arts Grant Program is named for the former mayor and was established in 1993 to help promote various forms of art in the community. A total of $25,000 in the Town’s general fund is where dollars for the grants come from.

Grant applications are evaluated according to numerous criteria, including: They must take place within Normal and be administered by non-profit groups; They must be programs which serve a large number of patrons; and can include quasi-arts programs.

The grant recipients, and the grants they were awarded are: Illinois Symphony Orchestra, $2,000; Illinois State University’s Shakespeare Festival, $2,000; Prairie Fire Theatre, $2,000; YWCA Express Yourself, $1,950; Midwest Institute of Opera at ISU, $1,850; University Galleries at ISU, $1,750; Heartland Theatre, $1,500; McLean County Arts Center, $1,500; Twin Cities Ballet, $1,500; USA Ballet, $1,500; Further Jazz, $1,200; Illinois Chamber Music Festival at Illinois Wesleyan University, $1,200; Brass Band of Central Illinois, $1,100; Normal Community West High School Bands, $1,000; Sound Of Illinois, $1,000; Illinois Voices Theatre, $750; Community Players Theatre, $600; and Crossroads Area Student Theatre (CAST), $600.

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

• Approval of the minutes of the public hearing of May 21, 2018.

• Approval of the minutes of the regular Council meeting of May 21, 2018.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of May 30, 2018.

• A resolution to approve bids and award a contract to Champaign Signal and Lighting Company for the Beaufort St ./Vernon Ave. traffic signal upgrade project.

• Supplemental Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) resolution in the amount of $31,600 for the Beaufort St ./Vernon Ave. traffic signal upgrade project.

• A resolution accepting the low bid and awarding a contract to Astoria , Ill.-based K. K. Stevens Publishing Co. for the printing of Normal Parks & Recreation Department’s Fall, Winter/Spring, and Summer Activity Guides in the amount of $28,155.66 plus postage.

• A resolution authorizing the filing of the Town’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) 2018-2019 Annual Action Plan.

• A resolution to waive the formal bidding process and accept a quote from Elgin , Ill.-based Drydon Equipment, Inc. for the replacement of the Halogen valve emergency shut-off system at the water treatment plant at a cost of $35,985.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and executing an agreement with Santa Fe Springs , Calif.-based All City Management Services, Inc. in the amount not to exceed $82,872 for school crossing guard management services.

• An ordinance establishing prevailing wage rates.

NORMAL – By a 6-1 count at their regularly-scheduled meeting Monday night, Normal Town Council members approved amending two sections of the Town Code which would help pave the way for an Uptown business to have outdoor seating in an on-the-street parking space.

The request was made by owners of Stave, a beer and wine establishment at 111 W. North St. To permit sales and consumption of food and alcoholic beverages in an on-street parking space, amendments needed to be made to the Town Public Code concerning liquor and public ways.

Town Staff researched to discover what other communities had to see if it would even be possible to allow this in Normal. The on-street cafes are referred to as parklets. What Town Staff discovered is that parklets are becoming very popular and common in central business districts nationally. The Town’s research found them in Iowa City, Iowa, and in Illinois in Urbana and Yorkville.

The Town has drafted an ordinance which would allow for a pilot program for parklets to be allowed in Normal. Among the pilot program’s stipulations: It would only be in effect for 2018, expiring Oct. 15, would only apply to Stave, and the Town’s public works director would have to approve the seating layout.

Also, the seating would need to be on a platform, and the platform could not interfere with the flow of vehicle traffic. Also under the conditions of the program, the Town also retains the right to discontinue the program at any time, including for temporary circumstances.

“More communities are doing this all the time,” Town Planner Mercy Davison told Council members, adding the move amounted to an investment in infrastructure for the establishment.

But Council Member Jeff Fritzen said he had concerns about vehicles coming around the round-about off of Beaufort St., saying that turn “is fairly tight.”

“I have a safety concern with this,” Fritzen added. “Once you do a pilot program, others want it and I would rather see where this winds up” before making a determination whether it should be continued.

Fritzen said parking in Uptown also plays a role. Davison said parking blocks at one end of the outdoor café for safety are part of the plan. She said a block of that type is there already. Before the vote was taken, Council Member Kevin McCarthy expressed the opinion the Town should at least give it a try.

Children’s Discovery Museum, Normal Theater Named “Two Greatest Places” In Illinois: Before the 45-minute meeting closed, City Manager Pam Reece announced Children’s Discovery Museum and Normal Theater had been named two of “Illinois’ 200 Great Places” by American Institute of Architects, honoring what the organization calls “built environments.”

AIA Illinois will present both locations with individual plaques to recognize the honor, Reece told Council members. All 200 locations AIA Illinois honored are featured on a website, www.illinoisgreatplaces.com.

Planned Unit Development Gets Conditional Approval: Council members unanimously approved a resolution which conditionally approved a preliminary planned unit development east of 201 McKnight, to become known as “The Park.”

The property owner plans to develop the land east of the Starplex Cinemas on 4.76 acres of land. The plan includes construction of 13 buildings which will house 85 units which will allow for 294 beds. Townhomes on the property will be 2 ½ stories with varying exteriors and porch styles. The complex will meet Town Code by making sure it has 170 spaces.

The development received unanimous approval by a 7-0 vote of the McLean County Regional Planning Commission. That vote followed a public hearing on May 10.

Proclamation Honors Local Students: Prior to the start of the meeting, two local high school students were honored with a proclamation for successfully completing an innovation award program which is co-sponsored by Millikin University, Illinois State University, Illinois Wesleyan University, and Pontiac Township High School.

Normal Community High School student Lexi Showalter and Normal Community West High School student Becca Nalley were honored with a proclamation read by Normal Mayor Chris Koos honoring them for receiving an innovators award from the universities and the high school for their creating what they call Cybercitizens, a program where senior citizens learn how to use a smartphone during a face-to-face class. So far, the girls say, they have taught older folks at Bible study classes with the seniors wanting to learn about the new technology.

Retiring Town Engineer Attends Final Council Meeting: Gene Brown wrapped up 33 years with the Town of Normal when the Council session ended. Brown retires as Town Engineer. He, too, received a proclamation from the Town, read by Koos, surrounded by Council members.

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

• Approval of the minutes of the regular Council meeting of May 7, 2018.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of May 16, 2018.

• A resolution approving the final plat of the Normal Main Street Fire Station subdivision (606 S. Main St.) by expedited process and initiating a zoning map amendment from B-1 General Business to S-2 Public Lands & Institutions.

• A resolution conditionally and partially approving a final plat within one and one-half miles of corporate limits by expedited process – A. Ziebarth (south of 19203 N. 1500 East Rd.).

• An ordinance vacating a portion of an alley in the subdivision of Block 6 in the 9th addition to Normal (Off of Fell St. between Mulberry St. and Locust St.). A public hearing was held on this matter prior to the start of the Council session. No one addressed Council members at the hearing.