Hannah Herrera was presented with this Student Liaison Recognition Award.

Machesney Park helps establishments on the road to recovery

By Bob Balgemann


With the state now in Phase 3 of its plan to Restore Illinois, the village board has granted special permission to restaurants and liquor license holders to have outdoor seating, retroactive to May 29.

To get that process in effect as quickly as possible, the board approved two resolutions at its June 1 meeting, which had been recommended for approval earlier that evening by the Liquor Commission (LC) and Planning and Economic Development Committee (PED).

Originally, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay at home order of April 30 did not permit bars and restaurants to have indoor or outdoor seating. Effective May 29, that prohibition was lifted and the village, in response, moved quickly to get a few establishments back in business.

The LC first took up Resolution 32-R-20.

Planning and Zoning Specialist Carrie Houston explained the village had established a permitting process to review outdoor seating and dining plans. This permit is free of charge and would ensure local restaurants and bars established outdoor dining areas that conformed with state and county health guidelines. In addition, seating would be situated in safe areas of the establishment’s property, which did not compromise traffic safety or contribute to congestion.

She said there were varying concerns about allowing outdoor dining for restaurants that served alcoholic beverages, compared with restaurants that did not.

Resolution 32-R-20 established a permitting process just for liquor license holders. “This permit would be approved individually by the liquor commissioner (Mayor Steve Johnson) after review by village staff, without requiring commission or board approval,” she added. “It is the hope that this expedited process will help these establishments quickly get back into business.”

The temporary outdoor dining areas in Machesney Park would follow Winnebago County Health Department guidelines, as well as health and safety guidelines in the village.

Commissioners recommended approval of that resolution, in a unanimous voice vote, and it was forwarded to that night’s village board meeting. There, trustees gave it final approval as part of the consent agenda.

Between the LC and village board meetings the PED took up Resolution 31-R-20, which allowed permitting of temporary outdoor dining for restaurants. The process and requirements were similar to those of liquor license holders. It was recommended for approval by PED in a unanimous voice vote, without discussion, and passed on to the board session.

This resolution also was given approval by the village board as part of the consent agenda, and without discussion.

Other action

Later in the evening the village board:

  • Was reminded by Village Clerk Lori Mitchell that the annual Yards of Distinction program had returned for June, July and August. She encouraged residents to nominate attractive, well kept yards by calling village hall at 815-877-5432 on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

The first round of winners will be announced at the June 15 village board meeting. She said each winner will receive a sign for placement in the front yard.

  • Heard Clerk Mitchell report traveling around town last weekend and presenting recent Harlem High School graduate Hannah Herrera with the Student Liaison Recognition Award. She served as liaison between the school and village for the past three years, attending board meetings and updating the mayor and trustees on what was happening at Harlem.

Her award was a handsome, inscribed clock, which she will be able to take with her to college this fall. She plans to attend Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Va., where she will study in its nursing program.

  • Heard a proclamation read that recognized the village’s Public Works Dept. for “the great job” it has been doing for residents of the village.
  • Was told by Public Works Superintendent Chad Hunter that the Pine Al Drive project was progressing nicely, with about 50 percent of the storm sewer in the ground.


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