By Bob Balgemann

Led by Planning and Zoning Manager Carrie Houston, the planning and zoning commission (P&Z) has begun its section-by-section update of the village’s road map to the future, its comprehensive plan.

After a few preliminary meetings, Manager Houston has presented commissioners with a draft of the first chapter of the plan. Joining her on this historic journey are commission Chairman Jay Alms and commissioners Jonathan Danielewicz, Scott Heidemann, Jim Hankins, Shane Klinger, Dan Pfluger and Jodi Stromberg.

The opening chapter primarily is an introduction, providing some statistics and facts about the village. She noted that as she progresses through the various portions of the plan, she will bring drafts to the commission for its review. So, at the March 28 commission meeting, she asked if there were any questions about that draft of Chapter 1, or if commissioners believed there was anything lacking in the content.

Commissioner Hankins initially pointed out that on Page 17, in addition to stating that there currently were only about 50 platted and undeveloped lots in the village, it also should be noted that there are Brownfield and other convoluted areas that perhaps should just be bulldozed and start over.

Manager Houston replied the section he mentioned only addressed residential trends. She suggested Brownfield redevelopment would be better addressed in the portion of the plan that covers industrial goals and objectives.

(The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields and Land Revitalization Program originated in 1995. It provides grants and technical assistance to communities, states, tribes and others to assess, and safely clean up contaminated properties. The goal is to return previously contaminated properties to productive use).

Beyond that, Commissioner Hankins said he did not believe the village should rush to annex property, as though that was the only way to grow. In response, Houston said she could reword that section of the plan to state the village also should focus on residential infill.

Commissioner Pfluger asked about annexation of property west of the Rock River?

Ways to grow

Houston replied that the village did not have infrastructure in that area. She also explained that because of annexation boundary agreements with other municipalities, Machesney Park was restricted in how far it could grow in that direction.

In addition, Village Attorney Tom Green elaborated that the village had been proactive in negotiating boundary agreements with surrounding municipalities. He added that demographics do not support growing towards Highway 2, and that the village currently was more focused on growing out near Interstate 90.

Village Administrator James Richter II agreed with Commissioner Hankins that the village should focus on infill. Part of the purpose of the comprehensive plan, he said, was to be certain the village had the capacity to serve what it annexes.

Further, he said everyone should be mindful that drastic residential growth could be costly to the village, with limited benefits and considering that it does not collect a property tax.

As discussion continued, Commissioner Hankins pointed out that chapter did not address transportation, or police and fire protection at all, or the need for parks and open space. Houston replied that this chapter is more of an inventory of what the village now has as far as population goes, with goals and objectives for all those other aspects of the village being addressed in future chapters.

Commissioner Pfluger said he was glad to see the village’s sales tax revenue seemed to be doing well, but he was curious if sales tax was received from manufacturers in the village.

Administrator Richter replied that if a product is manufactured here and sold from here, this would be the point of sale and the village would collect sales tax from those transactions. Attorney Green added that even if a manufacturer wasn’t generating local sales tax, it still was creating jobs and that creates housing demand here. That in turn brings more people to the community who shop here and create more sales tax dollars for the village.

After some additional discussion among commissioners about village boundaries and where there is room to grow on the north and east sides, the commission approved a motion to adjourn for the evening. The draft of the plan’s next chapter was scheduled to be taken up as part of the April 25 meeting.

Outdoor storage

At the outset of the March 28 meeting commissioners addressed the special use that had been requested to allow outdoor storage at 7167 Greenlee Drive.

Manager Houston first explained that ABC Supply, a building materials distributor headquartered in Beloit, WI., was planning to locate a warehouse east of I-90 and the Park 90 subdivision. The property is in the industrial zoning district. Such a warehouse includes an outdoor storage yard, which only is allowed in that zoning district with a special use permit.

“Clearly,” she said, “outdoor storage here at the subject property would not be a detriment to the surroundings.”

ABC representative Dan Jeziorski explained the company was looking to relocate a warehouse that currently is in Roscoe. The proposed new location, right off I-90 and Illinois 173, would be better for their company, a wholesale distributor of building materials. It also would be more convenient for their customers and for truck deliveries.

He continued: The plan was to rehabilitate the building currently at that location and add the storage area, which would be on concrete and fully fenced and screened.

Commissioner Hankins asked to further explain the future building depicted on the northern side of the site plan.

Jeziorski and Richter replied the company now only plans a 15,000-square-foot addition onto the 30,000-square-foot warehouse space, resulting in a 45,000-square-foot indoor warehouse space. Houston interjected that even if they were going to build a new detached building, that would not come before the commission because the project would not require a special use permit.

The commission in a unanimous voice vote recommended approval of the special use permit and moved the matter along to the April 4 planning and economic development committee (PED), where it also received a unanimous, positive recommendation. The village board gave approval to Ordinance 14-22 on first reading, for issuing the special use permit, during its April 18 meeting. Second and final reading, and approval, was expected at the May 2 meeting.

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