By Bob Balgemann


Machesney Park village officials have taken another step toward creation of a business district on 90 acres at the intersection of Illinois 173 and Interstate 90.

The administration and finance committee (A&F) went over details of the extensive proposal during its Aug. 1 meeting. Next, the village board will discuss three ordinances on first reading at its meeting Monday night (Aug. 15) and on second reading in September.

Three ordinances to be approved will accept the business district plan, designate the district itself and impose a series of 1 percent occupational taxes for retailers, services and hotels.

That taxation level is the maximum allowed by state law.

A public hearing required by state law was held July 5, five minutes before the start of that evening’s village board meeting. No one in the audience addressed the proposed district, or asked questions about it.

James Richter II, village community development coordinator, made a presentation before A&F on Aug. 1.

He explained that the property in question has been determined to be an underutilized area for a number of reasons, including:

* The predominance of a defective or inadequate street layout, unsanitary or unsafe conditions, deterioration of site improvements, improper subdivisions or obsolete platting.

* The existence of conditions that endanger life or property by fire or other causes, or any combination of those factors that could retard the provision of housing accommodations or constitutes an economic or social liability; a menace to the public health, safety, morals or welfare in its current conditions.

Given those possible hurdles, the village has determined that development through private enterprise likely would not happen without adoption of a business district development or redevelopment plan.

The consulting firm of Kane, McKenna and Associates studied the property and believes it qualifies to be designated as a business district.

From the village’s point of view, development of the acreage could lead to increased property values and sales tax revenues for the community at large.

“The Illinois 173-Interstate 90 Business District is an initial step in an effort to develop the area for a diverse mix of uses …” such as retail, commercial and hospitality district that takes advantage of the proximity to the I-90, Route 173 interchange, Richter said.

Further, he said a diversified tax base, increased employment and services to residents, as well as reductions in blight and vacancies, are important to the village.

“Local control over projects is desired when federal or state dollars are not readily available,” he added.

As proposed, Village Engineer Chris Dopkins said about 42 acres would be devoted to retail and 33 acres for industrial uses. The balance of 15 acres would be consumed by rights of way, storm water management and other site needs.

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