Zion-Benton News

City council approves loan
for N&T’s

By Mona Shannon
Zion-Benton News staff

The Zion City Council approved a 15-year, no-interest loan for N&T’s Restaurant Tuesday night. The city purchased the former Rook’s Restaurant at 3077 31st St. and is selling it to the owners of N & T’s who will relocate their business there.

Finance Director David Knabel said the first payment will be deferred six months. At its Aug. 4 meeting, the city council will consider a recommendation from the TIF Board to approve an economic incentive for N&T’s for improvements at the new location.
This is part of the city’s efforts to not only attract new businesses but to help local businesses stay in the city and thrive.

Appropriation Ordinance
The city council approved the appropriation ordinance for the next fiscal year Tuesday night. The total amount for all funds is $43,824,711. Finance Director David Knabel explained during the public hearing that the city is required to adopt an appropriation ordinance which allows the city to spend up to a certain amount. He said the appropriation ordinance is less restrictive than the budget because it includes funds for emergencies.

Citizen comments
There were no citizen comments at Tuesday’s meeting but the council amended the city’s ordinance regarding how citizen comments are handled. On the advice of city attorneys, the council deleted the paragraph requiring individuals to try to resolve matters with a department head or city commissioner before discussing it at the city council meeting during citizen comment.

Commissioner Mike McDowell asked if it was possible to designate an area in council chambers for people with signs so they don’t block the view of people sitting behind them. Mayor Al Hill said he believes that is addressed in the paragraph dealing with disorderly behavior.

Video gaming
The council approved the repeal of the ordinance banning video gaming in the city and approved a new ordinance allowing video gaming in the city. Commissioners Mike McDowell and Lloyd DeTienne voted against allowing video gaming.

Mayor Al Hill said locations of video gaming establishments will have to go to the zoning board. State law requires alcohol to be served in order to get a video gaming license. The Liquor Control Commission will create a new liquor license class and would then select applications for the new licenses. All of these would return to the city council for final approval.

Chronic nuisance abatement
The council approved a change to the chronic noise abatement ordinance to consider a property a chronic nuisance if police respond three times in 180 days. Previously it was 90 days. Property owners and the police chief receive a notice from the Building Department after two or more reports of alleged nuisance activity. The police chief reviews this and determines if further action is needed.

Building Dept. personnel
The council approved adding two more full-time inspectors and one full-time administrative secretary in the the Building Department. The part-time administrative secretary position will be eliminated. The increase is needed due to the recent approval of the Rental Housing Inspection and Certification Ordinance,. However the request for hiring was tabled until the Aug. 4 city council meeting.

Commissioner McDowell said he supports the program but couldn’t vote for hiring more people until the fee schedule is in place and shows that it will cover the cost of the new hires. He said all departments have been asked to cut expenses because of the budget deficit the city will face next year.

Mayor Hill said it will take to time to hire so that is why it was on Tuesday’s agenda but he agreed they should make sure the fee structure will cover it first. He said he believes the plan is for fees of $138 per inspection the first year and $100 each after that. He said there will be upfront costs before the city starts receiving fees. The plan is to do 4,800 inspections over two years.

Market Square sidewalk cafe
Market Square Hospitality, LLC, owners of Callie’s in The Square, 2723 Sheridan Road, requested a license agreement for use of the sidewalk for an outdoor café. The city had granted such a license to last year to John and Janet Jones who owned Callie’s at that time.

However at Tuesday’s meeting, it was discovered the city does not own the sidewalk right-of-way on Sheridan Road, the state does. The city has an agreement with the state that allows it to place benches and trash receptacles but it does not have the authority to approve or deny use of the right-of-way along Sheridan Road. Director of Public Works is working with IDOT on lowering the speed limit on Sheridan Road and said he will ask about sidewalk right-of-way for Market Square.

Land donation refused
Lakeview Church owns property at 10021 W. Winthrop Court in Zion which it does not need and is unable to sell because there is no access. Providing access would cost an estimated $250,000. The land is not tax-exempt and the church offered to donate the land to the city. Surrounding property owners are not interested in the property.

Commissioner Billy McKinney asked why would the city take on the responsibility of the property when there will be no revenue from it and city ownership would remove it from the tax rolls. The council voted not to accept the donation.

The council approved a new Memorandum of Understanding between Zion Fire Rescue and Midwestern Regional Medical Center for transportation of CTCA patients from Guest Quarters and contracted hotels to the hospital. Fire Chief John Lewis explained that , MRMC’s state licenseing does not permit pre-hospital transport to its emergency room so an MOU was developed.

He said the Fire Department will transport stable patients to MRMC for direct admission. MRMC is invoiced and the patient is never billed by the city.

The new MOU increases fees from $4,000 to $5,000 for transport of o-5 patients and from $1,000 to $1,200 for each additional patient.

Other business
The council approved the low bid of $114,800 from Peterson Excavating of Gurnee for demolition of 2408 Elisha Ave., 1529 33rd St., 2811 Eschol Ave., 1424 Carmel Blvd. and 2617 Elim Ave.

The council approved payment of $10,455.14 to Campanella and Sons of Wadsworth for emergency sewer repair at 30th Street and Gilead Avenue. The sewer line and manhole collapsed creating a large sinkhole on 30th Street. Due to size and depth an outside contractor was needed.

The council approved a TIF request for Cenni Ambrose & Tile Inc. to improve the building and expand the showroom. The TIF board recommended approval of an economic incentive agreement in an amount not to exceed $60,175.

Good news
Mayor Al Hill read a touching entry from the blog thelifeilive.com regarding interaction between a CTCA patient’s family and Brother Willy Brooks, who runs the concession stand in Shiloh Park. The blog writer called Brother Willy an undercover angel.