NORMAL – The officials who help keep a community running often pay for the community to belong to certain civic organizations. At the regularly-scheduled meeting of Normal Town Council on the fourth floor of Uptown Station, Council Member Stan Nord challenged the need for such memberships. To Nord’s way of thinking, for a community to formally belong to groups such as the McLean County Chamber of Commerce could be seen as a conflict of interest on the part of the Chamber and other such groups.

In a discussion concerning expenditures for payment by the Town, specifically to McLean County Chamber of Commerce, Nord was able to point out to Council members the Town of Normal had given the Chamber over $43,000 in memberships in 2018. That amount of donation cash dropped to $35,000 in 2019, he said.

He also cited Normal’s Uptown Business Association had received over $10,000 in the form of in-kind donations in 2019. Nord said this bothered him, in part, because the Chamber endorses local political candidates, which he said he sees as a conflict of interest.

Responding to Nord’s summation of the situation, City Manager Pam Reece said to him, “We can cancel our membership.”

But Town Corporation Counsel clarified the matter by explaining to Council members, “There is no conflict of interest because money given to the Chamber, depending on what it given for, either goes into a general fund or a political action committee.”

Nord responded he believed such donations, although separated, don’t cause some people to accept how the money is separated between the funds. He also said the business he operates is a Chamber member and the Chamber had endorsed him in political campaigns.

The meeting agenda had neither any items classified general orders or new business, and Mayor Chris Koos was absent from the session. The only other business for the Council to tend to was to unanimously approve a final development plan of the third phase of the J & M planned unit development near 1000 S. Cottage Ave.

Liquor Commission Imposes Fines, Approves Applications: Prior to the Council session, Council members, serving in their capacity as members of Normal Local Liquor Commission to resolve a set of issues. First, commissioners unanimously approved a fine of $500 for Schnuck’s Markets, Inc., doing business as Schnuck’s, 1750 Bradford Lane for furnishing liquor to a person under age 21 during a liquor audit held Oct. 10. The amount of the fine is the result of this violation being the second offense for this store in two years.

Mayor Pro Tem Kevin McCarthy, conducting the meeting in place of Liquor Commissioner and Mayor Chris Koos, informed Commissioners the Town continues to be in negotiations with 35 Years, LLC, operators of three Marie’s Place gaming parlors located in town. The three Marie’s Place locations are at 1520 E. College Ave., 115 Susan Dr., Suite H; and 1702 W. College Ave.

Although the W. College Ave. facility has never been open and operating, gaming parlor audits of the other operating facilities by the Town, conducted last February, indicated neither operating business had been selling food nor had they been have adequate food available for sale. The facilities that are open operate by holding a Class O – Limited Hours Liquor License in addition to holding a gaming license.

Commissioners approved a pair of individual liquor licenses during this session, as well. The first going to MHI-Bloomington-Normal Osco, LLC, doing business as Hyatt Place Bloomington-Normal, 200 Broadway for a Class E (Hotel) license. The ownership of the hotel has changed, necessitating the need for a new license.

Another new liquor license was granted unanimously by commissioners to American Multi-Cinema, Inc., Doing business as AMC Normal 14, 201 McKnight St. The license this facility received is a Class R – Theater license.

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

• Approval of minutes of the work session held Dec.6, 2019.

• Approval of the regular Council meeting held Dec. 16, 2019.

• Report to receive and file Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Jan. 1, 2020.

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