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Zoning change issue dominates Sublette Village meeting

Posted: Tuesday, Jan 14th, 2014

SUBLETTE – A zoning request was one of the items handled by the Sublette Village Board at its Jan. 13 meeting. The request was from Don Dinges, who wishes to make a change to Parcel 19-22-09-459-001 and 002 (lot numbers one to four), east side of Cook Street, north of West Gardner Street from R-2 single family residential to C-3 general business. Trustee Tim Bonnell was absent.

Dinges has intentions of selling these lots after re-zoning to a man (a former Mendota Hospital physician) that will be constructing a car storage facility. Dinges had described the original building plan to be approximately 60 by 80 feet, with a nice porch type front, a “carriage house” style building. Dinges indicated that he didn’t think that the building was going to end up quite that large, but that he did not have a definitive answer to the size at this time. He also indicated that the building front would face U.S. Route 52.

Residents Chris Leffelman and Don Kessel were present in the audience and voiced their concerns over this issue. Kessel stated that he and his wife disliked the idea of looking out their back windows to view a large machine shed. Leffelman had several issues with the proposed zoning. He questioned why none of the connected homeowners had been contacted in any way as to the proposed change. He questioned how the Planning Commission could have already met and voted on the issue, as Planning Commission Chair Rich Klaser had stated earlier in the board meeting that the motion to recommend the zoning change had carried with a two to one vote at the Planning Commission meeting the previous Monday.

President John Stenzel explained that the vote only recommended accepting the zoning change, and that the next step would be for the Village Board to vote, and then be presented before the Zoning Board for a vote. Stenzel stated that the Zoning Board needed to know the Planning Commission’s and Village Board’s recommendations prior to meeting to make a recommendation to the county. Stenzel also explained that residents were able to be present and voice their opinions at any of these meetings. Leffelman then questioned again why he had not received any information from anyone regarding this proposal, with meeting information, so that residents could be present. Stenzel replied that the Village had not received any paperwork either and that he had contacted Chris Henkel from the Zoning Board to inquire, and had been told that certified letters had been sent out the previous week. Trustee Jerry Leffelman presented the paperwork that he had received that day via certified mail, and offered for anyone present to view it, as he was the only one present that had received it. Chris Leffelman stated that he also had issue with the idea that after the zoning is changed, whatever type of commercial business that the next owner wants to have in that location could be opened and neighboring homeowners would be powerless to stop it.

Jerry Leffelman then volleyed several questions to Dinges regarding the potential use of the building, drainage issues, whether there would be plans for living quarters in the building, and how the buyer would be entering and exiting the property, as there is no street access. Dinges felt that the easement through BP’s property would be able to be used. Jerry Leffelman stated that he did not think that would be a viable solution, and used the term “land locked” several times to describe the situation. After much discussion among members and audience regarding easements, street access, drainage, etc., Stenzel reminded the Board that the only issue at hand was whether or not to recommend the zoning change. A motion was made by Jim Hochstatter to deny the zoning change based solely on the fact that there were homeowners present that had issues of concern, and they are the people with the highest vested interest in what happens to that area in future years. After a second by Trustee Bob Bulfer, a unanimous vote was carried to deny the zoning change.

After two corrections, the minutes from the previous month’s meeting were approved. Treasurer Theresa Wilson presented the Treasurer’s Report. She stated that the three CDs had been renewed for an additional 10 months at .35% interest. There were no new CDs up for renewal. Under General Fund a $50 lease clarification was made, and a furnace repair payment for $605 to Walter Bros. had been made for repairs to the blower motor of the water plant furnace. The Treasurer’s Report was then approved.

Under Committee Reports, Water, Garbage and Drainage, Chair Keith Klein discussed a new chlorine transfer pump on the request sheet for $520, but stated that it would not be needed unless they make a switch to using bulk chemicals. He would be speaking to Viking regarding this. The Community Building meter needs replacing, but it was unable to be done as the residential meters on hand do not fit the odd pipe size. Klein then requested some type of decision to move forward on pulling and televising Well Pump One, as it is not going as deep as it should. He said there may be an obstruction of some kind, and wanted to inquire when that could be done, as the $4500 has been on the request sheet for quite some time. Klein wanted to make sure that when the weather and timing lined up, they could move forward on it without having to present it again and wait for approval.

Stenzel replied that nothing could be done at this time due to the cold weather, but he had been in contact with Albrecht Well Drilling, and has a price bid on a pump and motor and will present it at the next committee meeting, and will address these issues further at that time. Klein then reported that well pump normally runs about eight hours a day, but it had been running about 12 hours a day. There is a leak somewhere, and approximately 15,000 gallons of water are being lost every day. No residents are reporting any breaks or pooled water, but Klein wanted everyone to be aware so that it could get located and fixed as soon as possible.

Klein then inquired as to whom would do the daily readings in the event of vacation or absence, as only one employee knows how to handle it at this time. Stenzel and Leffelman both stated that that is a part of the contract with TEST inc. to provide someone to do this in that employee’s absence. Stenzel stated that on TEST’s report there is a communication issue between the water tower and the plant, and that issue is currently being worked on. He also stated that the furnace blower motor that had been repaired had gone out again along with the circuit board and there would be another bill coming from Walter Bros. for the repair.

Under Economic Development, Dinges reported that a speaker has been contracted for the Toy Show. A trolley has been contracted for the Toy Show. Dinges has sent information to several publications to be added to calendars, and is taking Toy Show flyers to the Marengo Toy Show next weekend to distribute. The Toy Show T-shirts and sweatshirts should be arriving soon. He is also checking into some available grant money that may be able to be used for obtaining new heating equipment at the Community Building. Dinges reported that he had been tracking area sales tax records, and for the last 11 months, Sublette is second to Dixon, with Amboy coming in third. Dinges is also getting calls and interest regarding the Village Celebration. The Dueling Pianos performance is already sold out for February.

Under Street, Alley and Sidewalk, Trustee Hochstatter reported he had obtained pricing on a new battery charger and air compressor and would discuss that during Unfinished Business, as it was on the agenda. Stenzel then reported regarding the North Front Street project had been put on hold due to the snow. Wendler is not able to conduct a survey at this time.

Under Village, Property, EDC and Park, Stenzel discussed some potential grant money that may be available to improve the walking path. There was some discussion of switching to concrete or gravel.

Under President’s Report, Stenzel discussed the Z-Best maintenance report, how he had received one anonymous letter of complaint. Stenzel felt that the issues that had been brought up to this point were “growing pains,” and will be resolved with time. Stenzel then made a few suggestions to better handle the snow. The next village board meeting will be Feb. 10 at 7 p.m.

Under Planning Commission, Chair Rich Klaser stated there had been a vote carried to recommend the change of Dinges’ property from residential to commercial with a vote of two yes, one opposed.

Under Unfinished Business, the Storm Water Ordinance was discussed with no new developments to report. Stenzel reported no new interest in 109 W. Main property. Stenzel also discussed engineer drawings are available for a future Maintenance Building. He would be presenting these after the meeting if anyone wanted to view them.

The purchase of a new office computer for the village office, and the switch of the current computer to the water plant was discussed. Bonnell presented a price bid and motioned to purchase, after a second, it was unanimously agreed to approve a new computer for $850. Hochstatter then presented price bids for the purchase of a new portable air compressor, hose and a battery charger with boost. Hochstatter then made a motion to purchase, and after a second it was unanimously agreed to purchase these items for $450. Stenzel then stated that if these items were purchased by the Trustees personally, they could be reimbursed before the next meeting. The removal of the damaged pine tree by the Maintenance Building was tabled for the next meeting. The hookup of cable TV and WiFi at the Ellice Dinges Center was also tabled, as Stenzel had not been able to coordinate the installation time yet.

Under New Business, Stenzel reported that bills would be forthcoming from the three entities that had helped with the snow relocation. The zoning request of Dinges was discussed in great detail, and unanimously denied. The Zoning Board will be meeting regarding this issue on Feb. 6.

Stenzel reported that the street sweeper was in need of some repairs to the electrical system and brakes, and this will be getting done very soon, so that it will be ready to go for spring. He also reported that a few curb valves that are shut off valves for houses that need replacing. It was unanimously agreed upon to fix the one on Inlet Street, and table the others (no addresses were given, only approximate descriptions) until the weather warms up, and to use TJS Excavating.

There was a home foreclosure at 800 W. Gardner St. discussed, and Stenzel will check into whether there are outstanding water and garbage bills. Stenzel then made a request to Leffelman to check with the county if there are any long term plans for the repair of West Main Street repairs, as the areas where there is concrete are extremely rough. Stenzel then inquired if the county would have solid waste clean-up grants again this year,and Leffelman indicated that he did think so.

Under Bills to pay, there were two add-ons for the recorded bills, the TJS Excavating snow removal bill for $325, and gas bills from Beck’s for $273.10. All bills were unanimously approved to be paid.

With no other business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned.

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