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Decatur council makes zoning changes, OKs agreement with conservation district

Decatur council makes zoning changes, OKs agreement with conservation district


DECATUR — Council members on Tuesday approved several zoning ordinance amendments, a contract extension with the Macon County Soil and Water Conservation District and measures for the extensive Brush College Road project.

A new zoning classification, “Special Planned Development District” will be used to categorize areas greater than 10 acres for large-scale projects. City council members voted for a measure that will accommodate “multi-phased, integrated campus-like developments such as the Community Care Campus and educational institutions,” according to city documents.

City officials held a public hearing Jan. 2 to modify the current zoning ordinance with the new Special Planned Development District language.

Council members also approved three zoning amendments for St. Teresa High School at 2710 N. Water St., so that the property would have uniform zoning.

“The zone changes would allow for St. Teresa to do what it wants to do there,” City Manager Scot Wrighton said. He said the changes could include electronic signage.

An additional zoning change approved by council members on Tuesday include the rezoning of a property at 1975 E. Pershing Rd. The northern section of the property was zoned M-1 Intense Commercial and the southern portion was zoned M-2 Heavy Industrial District.

Council members on Tuesday voted to continue their partnership with the Macon County Soil and Water Conservation District in reducing sediment, nitrates and other pollutants in Lake Decatur. The city since 1988 has funded the conservation district. The contract extension would call for an expenditure of $154,508, a 2% increase over what the city spent in 2019.

“We’ve been on two-year contracts and here we are proposing a one-year contract,” Wrighton said. “That in no way, whatsoever, reflects all of the work the conservation district does.” He said the council could consider in February a “much-larger scale scope” plan. “Depending on what direction that goes, that could change the work of this plan.”

Some of the duties of the one-year agreement, according to a city memo, include: providing technical assistance, research and review recommendations and public support for watershed management according to city documents, presenting at least 12 watershed conservation public education programs and planning watershed conservation cost share projects in the amount of $25,000 annually.

The council continues to move forward with the Brush College Road overhaul that has been in the works for a decade. Council members approved two measures Tuesday. The first was to purchase property at 3925 E. Logan St., for $28,800. The second resolution related to the project required council approval of using state motor fuel tax funds to cover the expense, which would be reimbursed in full by a State of Illinois Jobs Now! grant. The grant has been used for numerous property purchases related to this project in the past.

The Brush College Road improvement project has several phases including the overpass at Faries Parkway, as well as an overpass just a few blocks south to take vehicles over a Norfolk Southern-owned rail yard.

Motor fuel tax funds would also cover a $305,114.20 preliminary engineering services agreement with WHKS & Co., to provide bridge design services for the Center Street/Steven’s Creek Bridge. The entire project to improve the bridge that has deteriorating deck beams is estimated to cost $1.6 million, according to city documents. The city has requested $1.28 million in Federal Surface Transportation funding to cover some of the costs to replace the bridge in 2021.

Councilman David Horn at the end of the meeting raised the point that the city this year completed 60 demolitions of properties on its list of properties deemed unfit for human habitation, which in August listed roughly 200 houses.

“This is more than any year since 2009 when we demolished 103 properties. Demolition of these properties is the first step to removing blight and neighborhood revitalization,” Horn said.

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Contact Analisa Trofimuk at (217) 421-7985. Follow her on Twitter: @AnalisaTro


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