By Steve Robinson | July 1, 2019 - 10:42 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – With Rivian Motors now operating at the former Mitsubishi Motors North America plant in west Normal, officials for the electric car manufacturer thought changing the name of the street where the plant resides ought to reflect that.

At Monday’s Normal Town Council meeting in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station, there was considerable discussion centering on how the name change potentially could affect travelers trying to find the plant through Global Positioning Software and other means before Council members cast votes deciding in favor of the change.

With Mayor Chris Koos away on business, Council members voted 4-2 to approve Rivian’s request. Council Members Stan Nord and Karyn Smith cast the opposing votes while Mayor Pro Tem Kevin McCarthy, and Council Members Kathleen Lorenz, Scott Preston, and Chemberly Cummings voted in favor of the measure.

Currently, the plant is located on Mitsubishi Motorway along Rt. 150 on Normal’s west end. Receiving first local, national, and now a global business presence prompted Rivian to make the request of the Town. But Nord pointed out his concerns for making such a change, stating such changes have a “ripple effect” on motorists – everything from needing to make sure the change is updated in GPS to changing signage in and around town for travelers requiring neighboring businesses to change the address on their paperwork.

A local business owner himself, Nord said it takes time for the change to get on the minds of residents. He called making such a change a “daunting task which takes years to adjust to.”

City Manager Pam Reece said businesses in the vicinity of the Rivian facility had been sent certified mail from the Town asking representatives to attend a meeting so that the owners of the businesses could address any concerns about the change. The meeting took place in May, and of the dozen businesses surrounding the plant who were notified of the session, Reece said, only representatives from two businesses attended, but gave no input.

The Town researches for such changes thoroughly, explained Ryan Otto, Town Engineer, when he addressed Council members during the session. He said while there is a four-digit cost figure to change signs from one name to another, the Town also consults with the Normal Post Office concerning matters related to mail going to a location where the street name gets a new moniker. In addition, Otto explained, the Town also works to make sure the changes of this kind are directed toward emergency medical personnel to help them arrive at locations after a change takes effect.

Smith wondered if having the meeting with the local businesses in the shadow of Memorial Day might have meant the meeting’s timing was related to how many showed for it.

“It’s a small thing to show our support of a business within our community,” McCarthy said. Cummings added, “We are not a backwards community. We have technology which will get people to these locations. We have issues we can be talking about, but in no way do those include a discussion over a street name.” She added people who use smartphones for directions would receive data updates on their devices.

Prior to the discussion that ensued, Nord first moved Council members consider postponing voting on the name change until a future meeting but withdrew the motion, opting for more discussion.

In addition, Council members unanimously voted to change the name of another street close to the plant, Sakura Lane, an access road. As a result of the vote, that street will now be known as Electric Avenue.

Liquor Commission Approves Licenses: Prior to the Council session, Council members, meeting in their capacity as the Normal Local Liquor Commission, approved a pair of liquor license applications – one for a new establishment and one for a business experiencing a change of ownership. The new business which was unanimously granted a license is Reynoso Corporation, doing business as Mexa-Maya Mexican and Central American Restaurant, 1113 N. Main St. As a result, the restaurant sought a Class D –All liquor, on premises consumption license.

Commission members also unanimously approved a liquor license for H.T. Trading, Inc., doing business as Kochi Sushi, 1540 E. College Ave. That business sought and received a Class C – Beer & Wine only, on premises consumption license.

Commissioners also approved setting a hearing date for businesses found to be in violation of Town Liquor Code. 35 Years, LLC Landmark, doing business as Marie’s Place, 1520 E. College Ave.; 35 Years, LLC Patriot Center, doing business as Marie’s Place, 115 Susan Dr.; and 35 Years, LLC University Park, doing business as Marie’s Place, 1702 W. College Ave.

The locations were found to be in violation of liquor code and a hearing will take place on July 15, prior to the scheduled Normal Town Council session. Once the Town Hearing Officer makes recommendations, the Liquor Commission could receive the case for considering license approval.

During a Normal Local Liquor Commission meeting on March 18, Town Deputy Corporation Counsel Jason Querciagrossa summarized for Commissioners an audit conducted by Normal Police on those establishments which related to Class O liquor license requirements, and the food permits issued to the locations by McLean County Health Department.

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

• Approval of the Leadership and Governance Workshop of June 7, ‘2019.

• Approval of the minutes of the regular meeting of June 17, 2019.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of June 26, 2019.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing a contract with Champaign Signal and Lighting Company for maintenance of traffic signal control equipment, highway lighting, and utility locate services. The contract expires July 31, 2020.

• A resolution conditionally approving the final plat for the Ohlendorf Subdivision by expedited process (301-303 E. Stewart Place).

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