Aldi rezoning

A sign posted at 450 E. Pershing Road notifies residents in May that there was a pending zoning request for the property. The Decatur City Council on Monday approved Aldi's request to rezone the site, which was formerly occupied by the vacant America's Best Value Inn before it was demolished last year. 

ALLISON PETTY, HERALD & REVIEW

DECATUR — A new Aldi is expected to be built at the site of a former America's Best Value Inn following a Decatur City Council vote on Monday night.

The council voted unanimously to rezone the site at 450 East Pershing Road, where the former hotel was demolished last year.

The vote came nearly two years after the council narrowly voted against a plan that would have allowed the construction of a new site for the German-based supermarket chain at the intersection of West Ash Avenue and U.S. Business 51.

The 2015 vote drew strong objections from many northside residents, who were concerned about traffic and the potential for hurting property values.

Councilman Bill Faber was one of the members who sided with the residents.

"Those of us of who did oppose it commented to Aldi's representatives that there were alternative locations. ... We're glad that Aldi took that advice and we wish them the very best," Faber said.

At the time, representatives for the company said it was seeking a place to build a larger store that would replace the one at 1005 W. Pershing Road, which would have closed. It was not immediately clear Monday what would happen to that store, which is about a mile and a half away from the site of the rezoning. 

The four-acre site, adjacent to the Brettwood Village shopping center, is zoned B-3 Planned Shopping Center District. Under city zoning rules, those types of shopping districts are to be developed as a unit according to an approved plan. The council approved rezoning the site to B-2 Commercial District, which allows for a variety of uses that include retail.

The city's assessment of the plan noted that a new Aldi would be a visual upgrade for the now-vacant lot. The memo, authored by Deputy City Manager Billy Tyus, described the former motel as an eyesore.

Tyus said the development from Aldi is a welcome improvement for the city, and that the supermarket makes for good use of the property.

"We've seen it as a highly desirable commercial corridor," Tyus said.

Aldi also recently renovated its location at 2075 Mount Zion Road, drawing a large crowd for its reopening in May. 

While the council closed the book on a once-controversial subject, it may have also opened a new one — the announcement of its consideration to double the fines for distracted driving violations from the current state-based levels.

Under Illinois law, drivers can be fined $75 for their first distracted driving violation, then $100 and $150 for a second and third incident, respectively.

Councilman Pat McDaniel said the national trend toward more car accidents and driving-related deaths is alarming, and higher fines will get the attention of local drivers.

Decatur Police Chief James Getz said higher fines would make drivers think twice, but police officers would be the ones bearing the brunt of their anger when they see the price tag.

"I would like to see more investment in educating the public (first), that if you don't get it together we are going to charge more," Getz.

Getz said police officers bear the brunt of the anger from drivers when they get served with an expensive ticket.

According to Getz, Decatur police have issued 1,100 citations related to cellphone use, since the state law was enacted in 2014.

Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe and the council agreed to consider the matter at the next council hearing, slated for July 17.

In other business, the council voted to block the requested operation of a consumer credit service at GW Plaza, located at the corner of Grand Avenue and North Water Street. 

City officials had said the business, which offers small, high-interest loans to those in need of immediate cash, was operating in violation of city zoning rules.

The plaza's owner, Mohammad Shariff, had sought to change site's zoning to allow for the business to continue operating, but city staff recommended against the change and the council voted it down. 

The council did vote to allow for the expansion of professional office uses.

tlisi@herald-review.com | (217) 421-6949

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Staff Writer

Government-watchdog reporter for the Herald & Review.

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