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City Council Meeting – 07/06/09

What do a coffee shop, Christmas lights, omelets, and a large garage have in common? They all were points of contention in tonight’s council meeting.

Eighteen coffee shops and restaurants around town were asked to present proposals to occupy the downtown Metra station coffee shop. Only one gave a complete proposal…the owner of “Brasserie” (the old Quiznos) in Library Plaza will run the shop during the morning commute, 6am-9:30am.

Potter road is being resurfaced and new signals are to be installed. Alderman Brookman asked if the new signals will be complete with an “opticon” and I just know I wasn’t the only one in the room that had no clue what that was. As it turns out, the “opticon” is the light gun that allows first responders to change traffic lights green. So yes, Potter Road will be equipped with light preemption devices like this…

There was conversation on the amount of money being spent on the City’s Christmas decorations. Aldermen sent the signal that they wanted city staff to scrutinize the decoration plan and bring the project in under budget.

The City’s Finance Director discussed the importance of building the City’s reserve fund and the large burden Police and Fire pensions place on our municipal budget. Here is an article that outlines the issue well:
Link to Daily Herald Article on Pensions

A long discussion arose over a new proposal to allow the City to fund the rehabilitation of historic signs in total. Unlike past façade rehab programs, this proposal provides an opportunity for the city to fund 100% of a rehab project (instead of contributing along with the store owner) and then the City becomes the owner of the sign. This option was billed as a way to save our history and maintain the character of downtown.

Let me be the first to say that I am absolutely in favor of preserving our history. That said I firmly believe that the City should not be in the business of business. In other words, the taxpayer should not be burdened with repairing a historic sign for a private business owner. Under this proposal, we would become liable for upkeep, and if the restaurant changes hands and it becomes a shoe store tomorrow, we would have to find a way to deal with the sign. We can protect our heritage without investing public dollars in private businesses.

I want to hear what you think.
Visit The Discussion and let's talk about it.

The final topic for discussion was a 3rd Ward garage that was built outside the scope of the City’s permit. After the permit was exceeded, the owner applied for a variance that was denied unanimously by the zoning board of appeals. He appealed the decision to the council who also denied the variance unanimously. I asked the council to reconsider the topic because the gentleman was not informed of the initial meeting. Tonight, the council upheld the April 2009 decision to deny the variance. The owner is going to have to bring his garage back within the scope of his initial permit.

That’s it for tonight. Make sure to come out this Wednesday, 7pm at Prairie Lakes for our monthly ward meeting.

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