By Steve Robinson | May 4, 2021 - 1:48 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – Normal Town Council members unanimously approved three ordinances and one resolution related to a request by Rivian Automotive to expand its facility located on the Town’s west side. The first item Council members approved by a unanimous vote was an ordinance reducing the levy of the 2020 property tax for electric automaker in accordance with the Town’s 2016 economic incentive agreement.

The abatement Normal provides the automaker was part of its development agreement with the company and has contributed over $300 million in investments by Rivian as well as 1,000 new full-time jobs, according to a memo provided Council members by Town Finance Director Andrew Huhn.

The abatement will result in the Town estimating a reduction in property tax revenue in the coming fiscal year of $103,150. Huhn’s report said that loss of funds will have an impact on two of its funds – its general fund by $72,500 and the library fund by $30,650.

Patrick Hoban, chief executive officer of Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council, informed Council members Rivian submits to that Council information concerning information on investments the company has become involved in as well as the number of employees hired and proof of the wages it pays employees. Hoban said, to date, Rivian has exceeded the figures not just for the current fiscal year but for the upcoming fiscal year, as well.

Next, Council members unanimously voted to approve a resolution conditionally approving an amended site plan for the property located at 100 N. Rivian Motorway for a new access road to College Ave. The new entrance would align with the driveway to its property at 2601 W. College Ave. Council Member Stan Nord wondered if the cost of the new entryway which would be used exclusively by the company would be repaid back to the Town.

Town Engineer Ryan Otto told Nord the new entrance would allow Rivian to have direct access from its warehouse on the south side of College Ave. to its manufacturing plant. He said the company would have to submit a traffic analysis report to the Town before construction for the new entrance would be considered.

Council Member Kathleen Lorenz took issue, however, with the notion of the Town looking to recoup its money from the automaker in order to complete the road it wants to add for access to its plant. Calling the notion of looking to get money back “such a slap in the face” to Rivian, she said, “Our job as a municipality is to provide, you know, roads and access to businesses and residential neighborhoods. This is what we do.”

Council members then voted unanimously to approve an ordinance annexing 380 acres of land west of the auto plant for its use. The land is currently zoned as agriculture. The company sought it to be rezoned as M-2 General Manufacturing. Changing the zoning would permit the company to expand its industrial uses.

Council members voted unanimously to approve an ordinance rezoning property at 419 Rivian Motorway and 320 acres surrounding that property which is primarily agricultural. The vote reassigns the land from Agricultural to M-2 General Manufacturing. Normal Planning Commission members voted 6-0 to recommend rezoning of 320 acres to the east of the plant from Agricultural to the new classification. Reece said Rivian officials were seeking to add such property to the Town of Normal by seeking the rezoning. She said if approved, Rivian would be included into the Town’s corporate boundaries.

But Nord expressed concerns over costs incurred for extending sewer service. Reece reminded the Town was simply adding land to the Town by annexing it. She said no annexation agreement was necessary in this instance. She added any issues concerning extending sewer service to Rivian would be brought before the Council.

Reece said Rivian officials have not expressed how or when they will use the newly annexed land, that they were simply asking the Town to approve its annexation for future use.

Lorenz said she didn’t want Council members to lose sight of the fact “there is a business here in town that wants to grow. They aren’t doing this out of the kindness of their heart, but because they have plans to use it.” She added while the plans for the automaker might not be immediate, “they are looking out five or 10 years.”

Council Member Chemberly Cummings added all Rivian is seeking is Council approval to make the parcel of land they have to become part of the Town of Normal.

Greystone Fields Preliminary Subdivision Plan Approved: Council members voted unanimously to approve a resolution giving re-approval to the preliminary subdivision plan for Greystone Fields Subdivision located just east of Normal Community West High School. Greg Troemel, Director of Inspections for the Town told Council members a slowdown in residential construction related to economic conditions in recent years was the culprit for no recent construction of new homes on the property.

As a result, the preliminary subdivision plan expired due to no activity and require being renewed for construction to expand the housing in the subdivision to resume. Troemel explained there had been no construction activity on the property for the past three years. Council’s approval of the preliminary subdivision plan was necessary for construction activity to resume.

When the homes are finished, considering the time that has gone by since construction last took place, in response to a question from Council Member Karyn Smith, Troemel said he believes the homes would be marketed at prices around “the low $200,000s range.”

Council members then voted unanimously approving a related resolution which would conditionally approve the final plat for Greystone Fields Subdivision 2nd addition located on Parkside Rd.

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

• Approval of minutes of the Regular Meeting of April 19, 2021.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of April 28, 2021.

• Report to receive and file Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of April 28, 2021.

• A resolution authorizing execution of a lease agreement with Illinois House of Representatives, by its agent, Illinois State Representative 105th District, Dan Brady and with the U. S. House of Representatives by its agent, Rep. Rodney Davis.

• A resolution to accept bids and award a contract to Pontiac, Ill.-based H. J. Eppel & Co., Inc. for the 2021 general street resurfacing project in the amount of $1,119,265.70.

• A resolution waiving the bid requirements and authorizing the purchase of a Ford F-350 truck equipped with a Perkins 8-Y yard satellite refuse body from St. Louis-based Key Equipment & Supply Co.

• A resolution authorizing the filing of the Town of Normal’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Action Plan for program year 2021-2022.

By Steve Robinson | April 20, 2021 - 10:53 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – As a means to find itself in a position to be able to know about and apply for funding opportunities for capital projects in a post-COVID environment, Normal Town Council members voted 6-1 to approve a resolution with Chicago-based McGuireWoods Consulting, with Council Member Stan Nord casting the lone opposing vote. The firm would also assist the Town keeping it apprised on legislative matters. Nord told Council members he couldn’t vote in favor of the contract until he knew the scope of the work McGuireWoods Consulting would do on the Town’s behalf.

City Manager Pam Reece said McGuireWoods’ aid “would help us engage at the State level and hopefully secure dollars for a variety of projects” the Town is seeking to complete. Deputy City Manager Eric Hanson said there are “a number of infrastructure projects that are identified but not yet funded.” He said that would “provide a good road map” for McGuireWoods as they attempt to seek needed dollars for the Town for those projects.

The contract with McGuireWoods Consulting would run for 11 months beginning May 1 at a cost of $4,000 per month. Reece pointed out the Town had not had such representation working on the Town’s behalf since the contract with the previous consultant firm expired in November. Previously, the Town had a six-month consultant contract with Chicago-based Turing Strategies.

Council Renews Town’s Contract With Brokerage Service: Council members voted 6-1 with Nord casting the opposing vote to approve a resolution for the Town to enter into a professional services agreement with Orland Park, Ill.-based Horton Group for brokerage services. Horton Group was among five firms who responded to the Town’s request for proposals for the opportunity to work with the Town. The Town will pay $39,600 annually for consulting services for the next three years.

Council Approves Contract to H. J. Eppel & Co. for Route 66 Trail Project: Council members voted 6-1 with Nord voting in opposition to approve a resolution to accept bids award a contract to Pontiac, Ill.-based H. J. Eppel & Co. for a project which would link the existing Route 66 trail to nearby neighborhoods, allowing access to be granted for both pedestrians and bicyclists. The connection would provide access and trail head parking for users of the Route 66 trail as well as connect the Village of Towanda and future locations to the north. The Town will spend $471,357.55 from monies in its Capital Investment account, and has received partial funding from the State’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

Nord said this item had come before Council in 2018, it was estimated to come in at a cost of $314,000. At that time, Nord added, Town Staff recommended it not be approved because the project bid was $425,000. But now, Nord added, the Town needs to prioritize what projects it spends its transportation-related money on.

Council members heard a pair of public comments related to this item, beginning with Patrick Dullard who represents Friends of Constitution Trail. He told Council members he supports this item because he believes “it improves bicycle and pedestrian safety of Town residents and that alone justifies the investment.”

He said the project also “brings the trail closer to many more Normal citizens.” He said he understands the Route 66 bike route brings people from not just around the country but other countries as well to the area. “This is not just an economic project, but a quality of life project, as well.”

Former Town Council Candidate Ron Ulmer told Council members Constitution Trail receives funding from both the Town through its transportation budget, and the Town’s Parks and Recreation Department. He said does not consider the current level of transportation funding the Town has acceptable “considering the number of potholes and bumps my car hits.” He added he would like to know how much money the Town spends to maintain the streets.

Road Resurfacing Project Approved: Council members unanimously approved a resolution accepting bids and awarding a contract to Bloomington-based Rowe Construction for the 2021 Motor Fuel Tax Street Resurfacing Project in the amount of $1,951,965.50. Streets to be selected for repair were selected based on numerous factors including condition, traffic level, deterioration level, and cost.

Streets to be resurfaced as part of the proposed Motor Fuel Tax project were initially presented to Council on March 1 and are: W. Raab Rd. from Constitution Trail Collegiate Br. To Bradford Lane; Bradford Lane from Miles Lane to Raab Rd,; Gregory St. from Parkside Rd, to Cottage Ave.; Bowles St. from Main St. to University Ct.; N. Fell Ave. from Willow St. to Sycamore St.; and Normal Ave. from Locust St. to Gregory St.

Bid For New Well Construction Near Anderson Park Approved: Council unanimously approved a resolution awarding the bid and approving contracts for Well #21 Division A to Fenton, Mo.-based Brotcke Well and Pump for maintenance at a total cost of $142,163.

Council members unanimously approved a resolution to award the bid for rehabilitation of one of two clarifiers for water at the Town treatment plant. According to information provided in a memo to Reece, John Burkhart, Town Water Director explained clarifiers soften raw water during the treatment process.

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

• Approval of the minutes of the regular meeting of April 5, 2021.

• Report to receive and file Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of April 14, 2021.

• A resolution extending a license agreement with Peoria Charter Coach Company for access to Uptown Station as a transportation provider.

• An ordinance reserving volume cap in connection with private activity bond issues and related matters.

NORMAL – A vigorous and sometimes contentious campaign on matters such as use of the State Open Meetings Act at Normal Town Council meetings and continuing work on Town streets ended Tuesday night with Mayor Chris Koos and three incumbent Town Council members retaining their seats for another four-year term.

Normal Mayoral Race: When 100 percent of votes were reported counted by the McLean County Clerk’s office, the numbers showed for a second time that Koos had defeated challenged Marc Tiritilli to earn a fifth term at Normal City Hall. A total of 4,396 ballots, or 52.31 percent, were counted for Koos versus 4,008 ballots, or 43.69 percent for Tiritilli. Four years ago, a recount the day after the election showed Koos had narrowly won his current term by just seven votes.

“We did the right thing, we have done everything we can do, and we ran a very, very good campaign,” Koos said as he waited for the final results.

Tiritilli ran on a platform which included what he saw was further opening of public access to government in the form of using public comment policy during Town Council meetings. He had explained he believed under Koos, that policy had become too restrictive as to what subjects citizens could bring up at Normal Town Council sessions.

Town Council Candidates Race: Three incumbent Normal Town Council candidates – Kevin McCarthy, Chemberly Cummings, and Scott Preston — faced six challengers in order to hold on to their seats in Tuesday’s election, accomplishing that task. McCarthy and Preston will each begin third terms on the Council dais and Cummings was elected to a second term.

McCarthy was the top ballot recipient, with 3,712 votes or 17.07 percent of the vote, while Cummings and Preston earned identical voting numbers, each of them with 2,941 votes, or 13.53 percent. They were followed by David Paul Blumenshine placing third with 2,803 votes or 12.89 percent, Albert Zimmerman, Chair of Normal Planning Commission placing fourth with 2,639 votes or 12.14 percent; Steve Harsh placing fifth with 1,949 votes or 8.97 percent; Karl Sila placing sixth with 1,867 votes or 8.59 percent; Brad McMillan placing seventh with 1,743 votes or 8.02 percent; and Donna M. Toney placing eighth with 1,145 votes or 5.27 percent.

Coleman, DeHaai, Gozur Win Unit 5 School Board Race: Three new faces will join Normal-based Unit 5 School Board later this month as a result of Tuesday’s election. A total of six candidate ran for open seats on the Board with Kentrica Coleman receiving the most ballots, 6,261, or 21.1 percent of the vote. She was followed and will be joined on the Board by Jeremy DeHaai who received 5,370 votes or 18.1 percent of the vote, and Stan E. Gozur who received 5,089 votes or 17.1 percent of the vote.

Of the other three candidates in the race, Ericka Ralston finished fourth with 4,506 votes or 15.2 percent of the vote, Janelle Czapar finished fifth with 4,422 votes or 14.9 percent, and Gavin Cunningham placed sixth with 4,084 votes or 13.7 percent.

Normal Township Supervisor Race: Democrat Sarah Grammer, the current Normal Township Supervisor, faced write-in Republican challenger Amy Conklin in their race. Despite their being 1,392 write-in votes tallied, Conklin didn’t receive any of them.

Normal Township Clerk Race: Democrat Pat Turner won the race to be the next Normal Township Clerk when she defeated Republican challenger Judy Hanks. Turner garnered 4,112 votes or 51.04 percent of the vote to 3,944 votes or 48.96 percent for Hanks.

Normal Township Trustee Race: Democrat Sally Pyne was the top voter winner among seven declared candidates and one write-in candidate when ballots were totaled for serving as Normal Township Trustees. Pyne garnered 4,293 votes or 15.43 percent of the vote. Democrat Arlene Hosea came in second with 3,917 votes or 14.08 percent. Republican Floyd Aper placed third with 3,742 votes or 13.45 percent, and Republican Art Rodriguez placed fourth with 3,736 votes or 13.43 percent. Republican Carl Haney placed fifth with 3,610 votes or 12.98 percent, Democrat Dayna Schickedanz placed sixth with 3,550 votes or 12.76 percent, and Democrat Mary Wuhrmann placed seventh with 3,491 votes or 12.55 percent. A write-in candidate, Ray Ropp, received no votes.

NORMAL – Normal Town Council members unanimously approved a resolution to award the bid for Oakdale, Ruston, Grove, and Margaret Sts. Water main replacement project to Gibson City, Ill.-based SNC Construction, Inc. at a total cost of $610,764.92 plus a potential $7,500 bonus for early completion. The meeting was held Monday and remotely as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

Prior to the Council vote, Normal resident Jerry Logan, saying he was representing the membership of Local 99 of Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, told Council members that specific union had been laying water main in the Town for 74 years, and said he and his fellow union members were concerned about a water main replacement project being awarded to a company not from the area. “What I would ask of the Committee is to consider tabling this until we get more research on this.” He said awarding the project to out-of-town contractor takes dollars away from the local area for such a project.

Amended Special Use Permit Approved For Local Business: Council members unanimously approved an ordinance granting a special use permit giving the owners of Beyond Hello, a medical cannabis sales business at 501 W. Northtown Rd. approval to expand its parking lot from 20 spaces it started with when the business opened to 40 spaces. In their report to Council members, Town staff indicated support for approving the permit because the proposed lot only occupied one-third of the property.

When the request went before the Town Zoning Board of Appeals on March 18, only the applicant addressed the Board, which was followed by unanimous approval vote by Board members.

Uptown Outdoor Dining Is Back: Among miscellaneous items Council members brought up were that Uptown outdoor dining returned on April 1, according to Council Member Scott Preston. He said that will continue through summer into the fall.

Lauren Lurkins Appointed To Children’s Discovery Museum Foundation Board: During the session, it was announced Lauren Lurkins, director for environmental policy for Illinois Farm Bureau, has been appointed to the Children’s Discovery Museum Foundation Board. Lurkins and her family have been Museum members since 2013. Lurkins is a graduate of Saint Louis University and Southern Illinois University School of Law. Lurkins replaces Gina Mandros who had to leave the Board prior to completing her last year serving on it. Lurkins’ term expires June 30, 2022.

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

• Approval of the minutes of the Council’s regular meeting of March 15, 2021.

• Approval of the minutes of the special Council meeting of March 29, 2021

• Report and receive and file Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of March 31, 2021.

• A resolution reapproving the third preliminary subdivision plan for The Vineyards subdivision (southeast corner of Airport Rd. and Raab Rd.).

• A resolution authorizing a contract with Peoria-based Hoerr Construction, Inc. for the 2021 sanitary sewer lining contract in the amount of $963,472.80 and authorizing an associated budget adjustment.

• A resolution to accept bids and award a contract to Mitchell, Ill.-based Erb Turf Equipment, Inc, for Ironwood Golf Course reel and bedknife grinders in the amount of $40,195.

NORMAL – Prior to the regularly-scheduled Normal Town Council session Monday night, Council members, meeting in their capacity as Normal Local Liquor Commission, unanimously approved licenses for two establishments who, under previous owners, found themselves facing penalties imposed by Commissioners.

A Class C (Beer and Wine) liquor license for two Marie’s Place locations. One, located at 115 Susan Dr., Suite H, where a license was issued for 35 YEARS, LLC PATRIOT CENTER, doing business as Marie’s Place. Liquor Commissioners also approved a Class C license for 35 YEARS, LLC LANDMARK, doing business as Marie’s Place, 1520 E. College Ave. The licenses were necessary because both establishments are now under new ownership.

Because both establishments have the same owner, approval of the licenses was done with a single vote by Commissioners. Commissioners also approved for each establishment to possess a video gaming license. Each establishment has video terminals. In January, Commissioners were informed by Liquor Commissioner Chris Koos the prior owners of the establishments have paid all fees and all settlement costs to the Town, and new owners of the businesses were seeking liquor licenses for the establishments. He also said the prior owners “no longer have any interest in this business.”

Besides those two “Marie’s” locations, Commissioners approved issuance of video gaming licenses to a dozen other establishments.

In addition, Commissioners approved liquor licenses for 73 establishments ranging from hotels to liquor stores to restaurants and bars; Four establishments which carry Class F Catering licenses; 11 businesses which carry Class H Outdoor Gardens and Sidewalk Cafes; 11 businesses which carry Class I Annual Tasting; and 1 Class L Pari-mutuel Betting Parlor. In addition to businesses fitting in those classes, and a total of 12 businesses were issued Business Permits.

Koos reminded that businesses “which actually serve or pour liquor in their establishments this year have had their license fees waived as a result of the impact of COVID on them.” He added that applied to businesses which “upheld the Governor’s guidelines” for businesses since the pandemic began a year ago.

Commission members also approved minutes of a special meeting held Feb. 1.

Reappointments To Three Town Commissions Announced: Four people were recommended by Koos for reappointment to three Town commissions. David Burnison and Dennis French both were reappointed to the Uptown Design Review Commission. Nancy Armstrong was reappointed to the Town’s Historic Preservation Commission. R. C. McBride was reappointed to Normal Planning Commission. Each person’s term on their respective Commission was due to expire at the end of this month but will now expire March 31, 2024.

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

• Approval of minutes of the public hearing held March 1, 2021.

• Approval of minutes of the regular Council meeting held March 1, 2021.

• Report to receive and file Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of March 10, 2021.

• An ordinance authorizing publication of a zoning map.

• A resolution to accept bids and award a contract to Bloomington-based George Gildner Inc. for the 2021 sump pump discharge and storm sewer improvement project in the amount of $356,662.

• A resolution authorizing execution of an agreement with Mr. Craig Onsrud for the operation of Ironwood Golf Course Pro Shop and private golf lessons.