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.

By Steve Robinson | October 16, 2018 - 10:01 am
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – Sometimes, we must all look inward to determine where we go next in our lives and careers. In determining whether to seek what would be his 9th term on the Normal Town Council, Jeff Fritzen performed that self-analysis and decided the time had come to step away. He announced through written communication to the media he will not seek re-election next April.

“I think we’d all benefit from some time of introspection about different aspects of our lives. This one just happens to be very public and is as much or more about others than it is about me, yet I’m the one having to make a decision,” he wrote in an email to The Normalite.

A Council term is four years long and can be involved at times for candidates and then Council members once elected. Fritzen said he had done some soul searching to gauge if his level of interest remained as much as it did in past election years.

Of his decision not to seek another term, he added, “I simply determined it was time to bring it to an end, then I rested on that decision for a while to see how it felt. It’s an agonizing process considering I’ve served most of my adult life, but I’m at peace with it.”

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.

Had he opted to run this time, he would have joined Kathleen Lorenz and R. C. McBride on the ballot, both of whom will be running for second terms next spring.

Fritzen, executive vice president at BOPI Print Plus, has been Mayor Pro Tem of the Council since May 2017, and the duties he has which relate to his being on Council have kept him just as busy: Member, Economic Development Council Board since 2012; Member, Unit 5 Liaison Committee from 2009-2017. In past years, he served on numerous committees and Boards including: Uptown Advisory Commission; 2015, 2020, 2025 Committees; Town/Illinois State University Liaison Committee, Community Enrichment Committee.

Fritzen called the process which got him to this point “agonizing” but he said he rested on it before coming to his eventual conclusion. Of his decision, Fritzen writes, “I simply determined it was time to bring it to an end, then I rested on that decision for a while to see how it felt. It’s an agonizing process considering I’ve served most of my adult life, but I’m at peace with it.”

NORMAL – Plans for a new five-story building which would stretch from Beaufort Ave. to College Ave. which would have mixed usage received passage from 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 passed an ordinance authorizing a redevelopment agreement between the Town and Miami, Fla.-based Bush Development LLC for construction of the structure.

The Town would like to construct a five-story, 220,000 sq. ft. building on the site where currently properties at 104 and 108 E. Beaufort St. currently stand. 104 E. Beaufort St. has been vacant for months, and is the location of a mural which was begun on the building in 2011. The building in-between, 106 E. Beaufort St. – is occupied by Windy City Wieners restaurant.

The total cost of the project is $29.2 million but the project would receive a Tax Increment Financing contribution of not more than $8 million over the life of the TIF which was recently extended thanks to State approval to 2026. The Town has had a Tax Increment Finance plan in progress since 2003.

The Town will incur expenses associated with the project related to electric utility relocation and electric connections for certain East Beaufort St. businesses. Funds for the project are part of the Town’s 2019-20 budget.

The proposed plan for the site consists of one building all along Constitution Blvd. from Uptown Circle on the south to College Ave. on the north. A private parking lot would be located to the east of the building.

The plan would require demolition of 104 and 108 E. Beaufort.

But passage didn’t take place until after Council members heard from citizens who addressed Council prior to the vote. Mike Kerber questioned tearing down the older building citing in his opinion that, one of the newer additions to Uptown, CVS Pharmacy, which began operations in 2009, “is as ugly as sin.” He added he wants to see the older buildings in Uptown saved from a wrecking ball.

Mentioning the One Uptown Building On The Circle still has no business tenants, Joel Studebaker, a Normal Public Library Trustee, told Council members said One Uptown was built “to improve this market and it hasn’t.”

Mike Matejka told Council members he was in favor of the plan and hoped Bush Construction would employ local laborers to participate in the construction of the new building.

“I’m in favor of development, but not this,” stated Former Normal Mayoral candidate Marc Tiritilli to Council members. He stated one-third of the cost of the project is too expensive, adding, “We’re tired of having school district monies taken from us” for such projects. To that point, both Mayor Chris Koos and Council Member R. C. McBride objected to a suggestion that such a project takes money from Normal-based Unit 5 School District in an effort to complete any project.

“Unit 5 does great work and this body is a partner in that,” McBride responded during the discussion prior to voting on the measure. “I get a little upset when we’re told we’re diverting funds from public schools.”

A piece of art is likely to be sacrificed when 104 E. Beaufort St. is torn down. A mural which was painted by numerous artists on the west wall of the building will be lost when the building is demolished. The mural was begun in 2011 when The Pod art studio opened at the location. The Pod closed in January. Numerous artists each had a section of the mural in which to express themselves.

“It was a beautiful piece of art and it’s sad it can’t be saved,” commented Council Member Chemberly Cummings during the discussion prior to the vote.

Council Approves Measures Related To Ameren Power Station: Council members passed a quartet of measures relating to a power station located at 807-809 Pine St . , operated by Ameren Illinois . Council members first passed a site plan for the property, upon which the utility sought to expand the station. They next unanimously passed an ordinance vacating an easement located on the Marquerite Subdivision at Lot #3, located at 807 Pine St .

Council members next voted unanimously to rezone the property to S-2 Public Lands and Institutions. Previous to this change, 807 Pine St. was zoned M-1 Restricted Manufacturing and 809 Pine St. was zoned M-2 General Manufacturing. The final measure Council members unanimously passed concerning this property was to approve a resolution approving the final plat of Normal Route 66 subdivision which covered the entire property.

Council Certifies, Acknowledges Support For Maxwell Park Project: Council members unanimously approved a resolution which certified and acknowledged the Town’s support of an application with Illinois Department of Natural Resources through the Open Space Land and Acquisition (OSLAD) grant. OSLAD is a matching program which provides up to 50 percent of the grant agreement shortly after the grant agreement is executed. Communities applying for the grant, which can be used for development projects solely, the community applying for the grant must demonstrate the ability the remaining cost of the project prior to receiving the funds.

Normal Parks and Recreation Department set aside $20,000 for development for fiscal year 2018-19 as part of its master plan to upgrade Maxwell Park, according to the report submitted to Council members by Doug Damery, director of parks and recreation for the Town. Hitchcock Design Group, which has offices in Chicago and the Chicago suburb of Naperville , has been working with the Town on a plan for the park, according to Damery.

Council Approves License Agreement With ISU: Council members unanimously approved a license agreement with Illinois State University for the use of the College Ave. right of way between Main and Kingsley Streets

Liquor Commission Approves Gaming License Applications: Town Council members serving in their capacity as Normal Local Liquor Commission, unanimously approved two video gaming license applications for a pair of local restaurants. Commissioners approved a gaming license for Bradford Lane Italian Foods, LLC doing business as Rosati’s Pizza of Normal, 1720 Bradford Lane . They also granted a gaming license for Min Zhou, Inc., doing business as Kochi Sushi, 1540 E. College Ave.

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

• Approval of the minutes of the regular meeting of Oct. 1, 2018.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Oct. 10, 2018.

• A resolution partially and conditionally approving the final development plan for The Park at Constitution Trail Centre.

• A resolution partially and conditionally approving the final plat for The Park at Constitution Trail Centre Planned Unit Development.

By Steve Robinson | October 1, 2018 - 10:50 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – Without discussion, Normal Town Council members unanimously approved appointing Nick Moran to fill a vacancy on the Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority, the governing body which oversees Central Illinois Regional Airport.

Moran will fill a Board seat vacated by Beth Whisman, whose term expires on April 30, 2022. Moran has been employed at Commerce Bank for 17 years, currently in the position of vice president of the bank’s Commercial Banking Division based in Bloomington.

Among his community activities, Moran serves on the board of American Red Cross, president of 5Khaos, a charity obstacle race, and the marketing committee of Illinois Prairie Foundation. He also volunteers on the Parent Teacher Organization of Sugar Creek Elementary School. He was also a founding member of McLean County Chamber of Commerce’s young professionals group which was once known as NeXt Professionals.

A Lamont, Ill. native, Moran and his wife, Kathy, have three children, ages 5, 7, and 9.

Three Seats Up For Election, Two Candidates Announced: When voters go to the polls next spring to determine who will sit on Normal Town Council, there will be three seats to be voted for. Two one-term incumbents have said they will run again, while a third veteran has not announced his intentions as yet.

Kathleen Lorenz and R. C. McBride, elected in 2015, each have declared their intentions to run for second terms. Jeff Fritzen, who has served on the Council from 1983-1999, and then after a four-year hiatus, ran again in 2003, hasn’t announced whether he will run for what would be his fifth term this time around. If he seeks re-election, it would be for a ninth term.

“I have a genuine desire to continue to serve the community,” Lorenz said Monday. Having had four years of experience after winning what was Sonja Reece’s seat on the Council at the time, and growing and learning from being on Council during that time has enthused her to run again, she explained.

McBride said he was happy with what the Council has accomplished for the Town in the last four years, including being awarded a AAA Bond rating and a balanced budget. He also pointed to the Council passing a Welcoming Families ordinance and introducing multi-family recycling.

Candidates must file between Nov. 19-26, explained Town Clerk Angie Huonker, with petitions due in by 5p.m. on the last day to her office. Anyone wishing to file can get petitions from either her office at Normal City Hall or the McLean County Clerk’s Office, or Illinois State Board of Elections.

At this time, other than Lorenz and McBride, Huonker said, her office is not aware of any other candidates who have petitions out at this time. She said her office won’t know that until those candidates submit their petitions during the filing period.

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

• Approval of the minutes of the regular meeting of Sept. 17, 2018.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Sept.26, 2018.

• A resolution to accept water treatment chemical bids from November 2018 through October 2019.

• An ordinance granting a Special Use Permit for a temporary parking lot at 612 Kingsley.

• An ordinance granting a Special Use Permit for a temporary parking lot at 603 Dale.

By Steve Robinson | September 17, 2018 - 10:50 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – At their regularly-scheduled session Monday night in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station, Normal Town Council members heard the Town has won an award for historic preservation, specifically for work done concerning Broadview Mansion. Specifically, the award was earned by the Town in the category of stewardship.

The Town received a 2018 Preservation Award from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation for efforts in preserving the Edwardian-style home built in 1906 which sits at the corner of Fell and Highland Avenues and is operated by the Immanuel Bible Foundation.

Council Member Kathleen Lorenz attended a function hosted by Landmarks Illinois in Chicago on Saturday to accept the award. Lorenz said the collaboration between the Town and Immanuel Bible Foundation needs to be credited with the success of preserving the building and for which the award was received.

Planned Unit Development, Rezoning On Lincoln College Property Approved: Council members unanimously approved a trio of resolutions related to the Lincoln College property at 715-755 W. Raab Rd. College officials are wanting to change how the nearly 9.2 acres are used. First, the College, which is in three buildings, sought to scale back to one academic building adjacent to Raab Rd. and to sell off portions of the remainder of the property.

Doing what the college wants accomplished would require rezoning the property and then create a Planned Unit Development, or PUD, so the properties could be divided into new lots and rezoned. Parts of the land will be rezoned from S-2 Public Land and Institutions to B-1 General Business.

Normal Planning Commission members held a public hearing on the proposed re-subdivision on Sept 6 where no members of the public addressed the issue and only Lincoln College representatives were in attendance. The Planning Commission voted 6-0 on the re-subdivision. That vote on the measure sent it on to Normal Town Council.

Council members first unanimously approved a resolution for the final plat for the fourth re-subdivision of the property. The second measure they approved unanimously related to the property was its rezoning

Finally, Council members unanimously passed a resolution conditionally approving a final development plan for the Lincoln Colleges residences, located at 717-731 W. Raab Rd., the area to be referred to now as Fairlawn Capital PUD. That PUD can now be zoned R-3A Medium Density Multi-Family Residence.

The PUD was needed to be established on this property, according to the memo prepared for Council members by Town Planner Mercy Davison, because Town Code limits the number of such buildings to one per lot unless a PUD is in place.

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

• Approval of the minutes of the regular meeting of Sept. 4, 2018.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Sept.12, 2018.

• A resolution accepting base bid Alternatives 1, 3, and 4 and awarding a contract to Springfield-based Henson-Robinson Co. for replacement of roofing systems at the water treatment plant in the amount of $156,200 and an associated budget adjustment.

• A resolution accepting base bid and Alternative 1 and awarding a contract to Chenoa-based Union Roofing Co., Inc. for the replacement of low slope roofing systems at the Community Activity Center in the amount of $67,390.

• A resolution authorizing a contract with Watseka, Ill.-based Freehill Asphalt, Inc. for the 2018 Towanda Ave. concrete pavement crack and joint sealing contract in the amount of $66,223.

• A resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into a Small Government Enterprise License Agreement with Redlands, Calif.-based Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. for software licensing and related services for the Town’s Geographic Information System