Zion-Benton News



N & T’s Restaurant may relocate

By Mona Shannon
Zion-Benton News staff

For over 60 years, Rook’s Restaurant was a mainstay at the corner of 33rd Street and Sheridan Road, where families came for a home-cooked meal. After it closed, a number of restaurants have located there and all have failed for a variety of reasons.

A successful family restaurant may soon be returning to that prime corner thanks to an economic incentive agreement between the City of Zion and the owners of N&T’s Restaurant, currently located in the Shiloh Mall.

Recommended for approval by the TIF Board, the city plans to purchase the property for $312,000 and then use a $45,000 tax increment financing grant to make improvements. The total cost would be $357,000. The city would then sell the property to Ted and Nit Behlund and their daughter Lola Durkin, owners of N&Ts for $257,000 with a mortgage at 0 percent interest.

Commissioner Al Hill reiterated his stance that the city should not be a landlord but said he supports economic incentive. “I can’t think of a better business I would want there.”
The council approved entering into a purchase sale agreement with owner Steve Kravitz, contingent on the city entering into a contract with N&T’s and approval of the economic incentive. Finance Director David Knabel said he has had informal discussions with Kravitz.

Mayor Lane Harrison said N&T’s is a mainstay in Zion. “We are glad you are making this move and we will do all we can to help you.”

New deputy fire chief
The city council approved the appointment of Eric Montellano as the new deputy fire chief, a vacancy created due to the retirement of Greg Friedrich.

Zion Fire Chief John Lewis said there were three internal applicants and one external applicant. He utilized an outside consulting firm, Innovative Emergency Solutions, to conduct the oral interviews. He said all the applicants interviewed well but Montellano’s experience and knowledge exceeded the others and better matched the requirements of the job. It was IES’ recommendation to hire Montellano.

Montellano has 23 years experience with the Lake Forest Fire Department, the last seven years as battalion chief and for the last five years he served concurrently as deputy chief for the Beach Park Fire Department.

IUP building
The council approved entering into an economic incentive agreement not to exceed $7,500 with Debby Kate, LLC owner of the building leased by IUP Feeds. When the northern part of building was demolished the north wall of IUP's was damaged. The owner said the necessary repairs are an unanticipated and extraordinary expense. The TIF Board recommended approval.

Letter of agreement with Zion Station
The council authorized a letter of agreement between the city and Zion Station (nuclear plant) for training and support of emergency fire/rescue and police services at the plant. This is an agreement that is renewed every two years. Commissioner Frank Flammini passed on the vote as he works there and is actually the fire marshall for the site. “The cooperation between the city and Zion station is outstanding,” he commented.

Late fee waived
The daughter of the owner of Avalon mobile home park on Sheridan Road requested a waiver of a $450 late fee for sewer/water. She said her mother is in the hospital, and she has been paying the bills. She said they had an undiscovered leak which flowed into the Moose Club basement and caused a very high bill. She said the bill and the late fee exceed what her mother makes each month from the mobile home park. She submitted a check by the due date but it was post-dated. Finance Director David Knabel said the city has a policy to not accept post-dated checks and although it arrived before the due date, the phone number he had was incorrect and the only way to contact the owner was by mail. He said he does not have the authority to waive fees, only the city council can do that. Based on the fact that an effort was made to pay the bill on time, the council waived the late fee.

Social media usage
Commissioner Al Hill said some residents have made complaints to him about comments posted by city employees on social media. Hill explained that city employees have First Amendment rights and the city cannot control their comments. The city attorney said the city should establish a social media usage policy, as it has for computer usage. But she too noted that employees have First Amendment rights. The council directed her to create a policy.

Leaf pick up
Director of Public Works Ron Colangelo reminded everyone that leaves are being picked but not to put leaves on the curb line or ditches, because that causes drainage problems. The vacuum can reach 5 feet so please keep them back from the curb line.

Mayor Lane Harrison announced that he will not be at next city council meeting and possibly not the next one. He said his daughter, who lives in Taos, New Mexic, is about to have a baby and she is experiencing some medical conditions of concern.