MOUNT CARROLL – All county board members were present at the April 18 Carroll County Board meeting at the courthouse.
Board members had a lengthy deliberation over granting a “special use permit” recommended by the Zoning Board of Appeals. Jerry Gendreau requested the special use permit for his property at 16416 IL Route 84 north of Savanna. The property was formerly the Black Angus Restaurant, as well as other businesses in recent years.
County Zoning Officer Julie Yuswak gave the details of the request as well as the recommendation of the Zoning Board of Appeals. She said the property is zoned B1. Camping is not allowed in B1 and the request was to allow camping for up to six days per year. Under Illinois state statutes, any more than six days requires a state campground license. The permit also requests being able to hold outdoor entertainment events.
The Zoning Board recommended granting the special use permit with conditions. First, the outdoor entertainment could only be held between the hours of 9 a.m. and midnight. Second, that adequate security be provided before, during and after the event. Third, a 50 foot buffer strip along the south edge of the property be excluded from the permit. And finally, camping is only permitted no more than six days per year.
Many questions and concerns arose during the board members’ discussion. They discussed whether a fence should be required. They asked what direction the speakers would be pointed. When asked who would keep track of the actual number of days there was camping at the site, Yuswak said she will be keeping an eye on it.
Someone asked if they can limit the length of the special use permit to one year to see how it goes. They determined that would be unfair because the owner would be investing money on permanent structures. However, if there were any violations, the county could revoke the permit at any time.
After further discussion, the motion carried to approve the special use permit, as recommended by the Zoning Board of Appeals with a vote of 7–2.
The Illinois Association of Sheriffs has announced their support of the Second Amendment. Sheriff Jeff Doran asked the board if they would consider passing a proclamation in support of the Second Amendment as well.
County Administrator Mike Doty pointed out that the board had passed a similar resolution in support of the Amendment in the past. All board members agreed that Doty should draft a proclamation for consideration at the next meeting.
Daniel Payette, Outreach Coordinator for Blackhawk Hills Regional Council, was on hand to report on the progress of the iFiber Broadband project. iFiber is a collaboration of representatives from NIU, LaSalle County, North Central Illinois Council of Governments, the City of Rockford, Boone County and Blackhawk Hills Regional Council. The purpose of the $69 million project is to provide high speed (1Gb) network transport services to Northwest Illinois.
Payette passed out the monthly iFiber newsletter to the board members. He reported that there are three objects yet to be met for the project consisting of completing the construction of the fiber network, installing equipment in the anchor institutions, and finally, to “light” the fiber and provide service to those institutions.
He reported two of five “core sights” are located in the Blackhawk Hills region, both of which are in Carroll County. One is in Shannon and the other is in Savanna. Core sights are locations that have all of the digital information on the network channeled through. The core sights send the information to geographically located distribution sights. Then the distribution sights send the information to the end users such as the individual schools, libraries, etc.
According to Payette, the completion date is still projected to be in August of 2013, which is the end of the grant term. They do plan to start lighting some institutions yet this quarter.
Payette also handed out a list of internet service providers (ISP) partners that have either signed a contract or are in the process of negotiating a contract. As of the date of the meeting, four ISP’s have signed contracts and six more are in negotiation.
He asked that if there are any issues from the recent rain of water dislodging and causing any holes, the board should contact the Blackhawk Hills office and they will let the construction crews know to address them. For more information on the project, visit http://www.ifiber.org.
Senior Real Estate Tax Reduction
Chief County Assessment Officer Annette Gruhn reported that the Illinois House of Representatives had approved Senate Bill SB1894 that would change the maximum reduction, in the property tax year 2013 and thereafter, for property owners 65 or older under the Homestead Exemption from $4,000 to $5,000. She said the Governor is expected to sign the bill. Gruhn informed the board members that there are currently 1,893 senior citizen exemptions in the county. This would equate to $1,893,000 less in revenues for the taxing bodies within the county.
Controversy over Trustee Appointment
County Board Chairman Kevin Reibel asked to have Jim Endress appointed as Shannon Fire Trustee. The position was previously held by Ellis Boughton.
Board member Shawn Picolotti announced he had become highly involved with this matter. After talking with Reibel, Reibel told him that he had someone in mind to reappoint. But, after he had some discussions with some firefighters, he had changed his mind.
Picolotti stated, “I have an unofficial letter from the Shannon Fire Department. And basically, the synopsis of it is that of the 25 members of that department, eighteen members signed this document in support of reinstating Ellis as the trustee.”
“I think you need to reconsider that position,” continued Picolotti. “I’ve got a feeling there is some personal issues against Ellis, but this document shows it isn’t the fire department that has the issues.”
Reibel said, “From my considerable discussion and meeting with the volunteer fire department, I will stand by my appointment of Jim Endress.”
The motion to appoint Endress carried with a vote of 8–1.
County Highway Engineer Kevin Vandendooren provided the board with a five year plan. He pointed out there was no major new construction projects other than what they already had planned.
He reported that the seal coated roads that were done between eight and ten years ago are in pretty good condition. Some of the roads done 14 years ago are getting to the point they need to be done again.
Vandendooren remarked that Motor Fuel Taxes received are down in recent years. He pointed out that an extra $50,000 from a bond floated by the state will end in two years.
For reference sake as to the increase in construction costs, he reported in 2005, when they resurfaced ten miles of the Shannon Route, the cost was $2 million. Now they are looking at doing the next four miles of that road at a cost of $4 million.
Hazard Mitigation Plan
Carroll County received the Hazard Mitigation Plan, approved by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). The county received a grant to hire a consultant to help write the plan. Once enacted, the county and other taxing bodies within the county can apply for FEMA grant money.
The board approved the resolution to adopt the plan. All municipalities must approve the plan, as well, before it can be enacted. Vandendooren said he may contact those municipalities to see if they will “fast-track” passing their resolutions.
In Other Business
County Clerk and Recorder Brian Woessner announced they would be canvassing the consolidated election on the morning of April 23. Woessner thanked the treasurer’s office for assisting because of a shortage of staff and election judges.
Yuswak reported building permit requests are starting to pick up a little bit.
Electric Aggregation opt-out letters had been sent out. Also learned that ComEd had since lowered its rates, but the aggregation rate was still slightly better.
Learned the Federal Bureau of Prisons would allocate money to continue the security of the Thomson facility. However, Thomson is third in line of new prisons to open.
Voted to approve a resolution to expand the Whiteside County Enterprise Zone to include a convenience store in Morrison.
Heard the Carroll County Senior Services Organization silent auction will be held Friday, April 26. (For details, see this week’s May issue of the Senior “Grape Vine” in Section Two of The Prairie Advocate News, or at www.pacc-news.com).
Heard Jo-Carroll Solid Waste recycling event was a huge success. Another will be held in Elizabeth in September. They may consider adding more throughout the year.
Appointed Amy Synder and Jonathan Meade to the 708 Mental Health Board.