By Bob Balgemann


The Village plans to hire a company to remove asbestos from the former J.C. Penney Outlet building that it owns at the south end of the Machesney Towne Center, 8702 N. Second St.

Public Works Supt. Chad Hunter explained that before the Village purchased the building in 2015, a pre-sale inspection found asbestos beneath some of the flooring in the main sales and office areas.

During the closing, he said the Village was able to negotiate a credit of $122,000 to remove the mastic that was identified with the asbestos material.

The Village plans to use part of the credit to hire a contractor to remove the asbestos “to give the space a clean bill of health and make it more desirable to buyers,” he said.

Staff received bids from three licensed asbestos contractors as follows: Husar Abatement, Ltd., $49,500; Balestrieri Group, $87,512; and Tropical Environmental Inc., $122,250.

Acting on staff’s recommendation the Administration and Finance Committee voted Sept. 6 to approve a resolution that accepts the low bid submitted by Husar Abatement. The full Village Board is expected to act on the recommendation at Monday night’s meeting.

Meanwhile, the search is continuing for retail tenants to occupy the front 40,000 square feet of the 110,000 square-foot building.

“We’ve been showing the building and are hopeful we’ll have occupants lined up soon,” James Richter II, Community Development Director, said.

Before receiving the asbestos credit, the Village was on target to buy the building for $900,000. The asking price was $1.2 million. The 5 – 2 vote in favor of the purchase came Jan. 2, 2015, with trustees James Kidd and Aaron Wilson dissenting.

Since acquisition the Village’s Public Works Department has relocated from Village Hall to 10,000 square feet in the old Penney’s building. Cost of remodeling was $3,500.

Massage parlors

In addition, the Village is working on a text amendment to its zoning ordinance to make massage parlors a special use, only allowable in the commercial general district.

First stop for the proposal was the Planning and Zoning Commission. After discussion, the Commissioner laid the issue over to their Sept. 25 meeting.

As proposed, the amendment would require additional information of the applicant at the time the request is submitted. The business also would have to meet required criteria as generally is the case with special use requests.

There was a motion to approve the amendment, with a second, at the Commission’s Aug. 22 meeting. But action was delayed after:

* Commissioners expressed concern about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known better as HIPAA,  and the proposed requirement that massage establishments keep a log of client information.

HIPAA is a federal law that gives people rights over their health information. It sets rules and limits on who can look at and receive that information.

* There was a lot of conversation about separating the “massage parlors” the village is seeking to regulate from massage therapists who are health and wellness related. Some were concerned that the regulations eventually could impact chiropractors and physical therapists.

Staff explained the regulations would apply only to a business that just offers massages that are not of a medical nature. Also, they would not impact massages that are an accessory to a hair salon or similar business.

* Commissioners suggested lightening up the definition of massage establishment to reflect what staff had said. The overall concern was that the proposed regulations were too heavy-handed.

The motion to approve the associated resolution was withdrawn.

Before discussion resumes on Sept. 25, staff was asked to find out how surrounding municipalities regulate massage parlors.

Currently, there are no such businesses in Machesney Park.

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