April 24th Meeting
Mayor Hackler called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
The Pledge of Allegiance was said by all present.
Roll call was taken. Hackler Present
Others in attendance: Mike Peters, Village Public Works Superintendant; Julie Quednau, Village Office Manager; Tiffany McElroy-Smetzer, Village Clerk; Joe Lierman, Village Attorney; Curtis Dillman and Mike Palmer, Village Zoning Board Members; Jake Myers, Salt Fork Paintball; Julius Cook; Property owner; Karla Cooper, Property owner adjacent to proposed paint ball site; Dan Elbon, Caleb Lyons, Terry Lawhead, Russell Chism, Kirby Poff, Mark Schumacher, Barb and Rich Leisure, Curt Riggs, Kevin Martlage, Jim Lyons, Tony and Jessie Heckenweller, Hunter Lowell, Lowell Suits, Jonathon Myers, Sephe Lowry, Jamie Kofoot, Karen Myers, Beth Campbell, Allison Jones, Amy Schuele, Victoria Becker, Jeff Kern, Tammy Ingram, Danielle Aguirre, Linda Manwaring, Ethan Stites, Hussan Patel, and Nora Maberry, The Leader.
MINUTES: The minutes of the Village Board Meeting held April 10, 2012 and the Zoning Board Meeting held April 19, 2012 were approved as received.
Rigdon motioned and Fruhling-Voges seconded to approve the bills as presented. Roll call vote was taken: Rigdon – Aye, Spurlock – Aye, McCarty –Aye, Fruhling-Voges – Aye, Silver – Aye, and Chism – Aye. Motion passed 6-0.
ZONING BOARD: McElroy-Smetzer reported on the Zoning Board Meeting held on April 19, 2012.
McElroy-Smetzer reported that the first item discussed by the Zoning Board was a request by Lowell Suits for a zoning variance to reduce his side yard setback to three feet on the west side of the lot located at 204 E. Briarcliff. At the Zoning Board Meeting, Suits had explained that he wanted storage for his boat. The building would not be attached to the existing garage because the power for the residence was on that side. He also noted that he is on a corner lot so has the 30 foot setback on two sides not just one as most residences do. Three of Suits’ immediate neighbors spoke regarding the proposed building. None of the neighbors had any concerns. They felt that it would be nicely. The Zoning Board voted 6-0 to recommend to the Village Board that the variance be granted.
Suits gave a brief presentation on what he was asking for and why. There were no questions from Board members or the audience. Chism motioned and Fruhling-Voges seconded to approve the variance as requested. Roll call vote was taken: Spurlock – Aye, McCarty – Aye, Fruhling-Voges – Aye, Silver –Aye, Chism – Aye, and Rigdon – Aye. Motion passed 6-0.
McElroy-Smetzer reported that the second item discussed by the Zoning Board was the proposed text amendment to the Village of St. Joseph Zoning Code to provide Special Uses for non-conforming properties in the Commercial Districts and Residential. Specifics were attached to the minutes. Also in the proposed test amendments is a time period for nonconforming uses. The Zoning Board voted 5-1 to recommend to the Village that the text amendments be approved.
Lierman then gave the Board and the audience a brief background on the proposed text amendments stating that this is something that the Board has been working on for many months. There were no questions from the Board or the audience. Fruhling-Voges motioned and Spurlock seconded to approve the text amendments as presented. Roll call vote was taken: McCarty – Aye, Fruhling-Voges – Aye, Silver – Aye, Chism – Aye, Rigdon – Aye, and Spurlock –Aye. Motion passed 6-0.
McElroy-Smetzer noted that Zoning Board Member Jamie Hitt had excused herself after the text amendment vote due to a potential conflict of interest with the third item before the Zoning Board.
McElroy-Smetzer then reported on the third issue that the Zoning Board had discussed. Jake Myers has requested a Special Use Permit for an outdoor recreational facility (paintball park) for the property generally located on the north side of US Route 150 at the west Village limits. She noted that there was extensive discussion regarding the request at the meeting.
Myers had presented an overview of the project. He discussed his plans for this site as well as gave a background of his history with the business at another location.
The neighbors immediately to the east of the proposed site expressed many concerns. Among them were the disturbance of wildlife, congestion, the possibility of an accident due to the location and angle of the entrance, stormwater issues, and a lack of privacy and quietness at his property with a business operating in his front yard.
Myers noted that he had met with IDOT regarding the driveway and it was OK for the present time. Coopers had also spoken with IDOT and did not get the impression. There was also debate over ownership of the driveway.
McElroy-Smetzer finished her report with the results of the Zoning Board meeting. The Zoning Board voted 4-1 to recommend approval of the Zoning request for a Special Use Permit for the paintball facility.
Myers then gave a presentation to the Village Board regarding the business. He described what he was planning and how he thought it would benefit the Village. He also noted that he had met with the Coopers over the weekend to try to address some of their concerns. He stated that he wants to be a good neighbor.
He stated that he loves the wildlife. He will leave a buffer around the Cooper’s property so as not to diminish their enjoyment of their property. Regarding their concern about lack of privacy, Myers has extended the buffer zone around their property from 100 feet to 200 feet and will erect a fence to ensure that players do not stray onto the Coopers property.
Myers noted that one of the concerns at his prior location was ATV noise. Myers has no plans to have ATVs on the property. He doesn’t want to be a bad neighbor. Hackler asked Lierman if this could be part of the special use permit. Lierman stated that it could be part of the special use permit.
Myers stated that in prior years he had up to 2,000 people per year when he operated in rural Sidney. He looks to a much larger crowd in St. Joseph. There is much better access with Route 150 and Interstate 74. He feels that this will bring a lot of business into St. Joseph.
McCarty questioned velocity and distance of the paintballs. McCarty researched the issue and there can be 300 to 500 feet. Myers stated that he and his staff measure the speed of the gun. His business will only allow 275. The business checks all guns before they are allowed on the course. Referees also check the guns on the course if they have changed the gun. With these settings the paintball will go approximately 100 feet.
McCarty also questioned background checks. Myers noted that he has actually been checked by the FBI. He has check sheets for terrorists and school shootings.
McCarty also had concerns regarding the Coopers safety as they are such close neighbors.
Many people spoke in support of the project. They included former customers of Myers, people who have enjoyed paintballing at other locations, as well as parents excited for a new fun and safe activity for the youth in the Village.
Barb Leisure questioned the distance of the gun and possible harm to the Coopers, their guests and their property. Myers stated that the buffer zone will be 200 feet around the Coopers as well as a 6 foot fence in the woods near their property. Myers stated that the paint is washable and should not damage anything.
Cooper stated that she did know that a paint ball would go through siding. Hackler responded that Myers insurance would be paying for any damage.
McCarty brought up shooting guns in the Village. Myers stated that State law does allow shooting of paintballs. Lierman noted that just because the State allows it does not mean that it will be allowed in the Village. Discussion took place regarding ordinance # 6-1-4a which states that guns are not allowed to be shot within the Village. This could be part of the special use permit for the paint ball facility.
Rigdon questioned if the question of ownership of the driveway had been settled yet. Myers stated that he would do whatever it took to get people in to the property with the least amount of traffic on the access. He has IDOT’s approval to change the driveway. He noted that he does need the Coopers approval to change the driveway.
Leisure stated that she had spoken with IDOT and in the future, 150 will be widened and the guardrail on the bridge will extend further to the west, making the driveway even more dangerous.
Cook (owner of the property) stated that when he spoke to IDOT, it was his understanding that this would not happen until 2014. Myers stated that he plans to open a new access by October 2012.
Myers stated that safety of the Coopers and his customers was very important to him. Myers offered to have shuttle service from a St. Joseph business to his site. He would work with a business owner to provide the parking.
Cooper stated that she understood that IDOT said the driveway must be done before the business opened. She requested that a Village representative speak to IDOT. She wants the Village to get the message directly. She noted that either she or Myers could misinterpret the representative’s message.
Fruhling-Voges stated that she loves the idea. She stated that she did have concerns regarding the access. She will not have problem with the plan once the new access is put in. She feels that this business will be a great asset to the Village. She said that it will bring new people to the Village who will hopefully frequent Village businesses. She applauded his safety plans and business plans. She thinks that he was proactive for safety measures. She does take the Zoning Board recommendation into consideration. She is in favor of the business and granting the Special Use Permit.
McCarty questioned the age requirements to paintball. Myers stated that 10 years old is the minimum age.
Lierman questioned Cooper as to whether or not she was willing to sign off on the driveway. Cooper stated that she is not willing to sign off on any changes to the driveway.
Cooper stated that she would like to see some time that is quiet time and the paintball facility not open for business.
Lierman stated that he felt that the Board needed to work with the Coopers regarding the buffer zone.
Cooper again stated that she felt Myers was working very hard (as of last weekend) to be a good neighbor. She feels that he is trying to address her concerns and feels that he honestly would try to do these things. Her major concern is regarding what would happen if the requirements are not met.
Lierman stated that the Village would like the Coopers to make a list of concerns and things that they would like to see.
A major concern of the Board is the driveway safety.
Fruhling-Voges noted that the Cook property was zoned Commercial before the Coopers bought the property. Cooper stated that she knew this but at the time, she thought it was going to be housing back where her house is.
There was discussion about proposed “closed” hours. Silver stated that this was not practical. The same restrictions would not be put into place if a McDonald’s or Jupiters built on the property.
Lierman stated that he wanted the Cooper’s list, the driveway access, and further research on Lierman’s part before any action was taken by the Board.
Chism, Silver, Fruhling-Voges, and Spurlock are in favor of the project if all the concerns voiced by Lierman above are satisfactorily addressed.
Rigdon stated that he was in favor of the project but not with using the shared driveway.
McCarty had a few more questions regarding safety issues and noise. McCarty wants 100% protection for the Coopers regarding safety, noise, etc.
Lierman requested a copy of Myers rules.
Hackler noted that he wanted the project to move along and hopefully make progress in the next two weeks
PUBLIC PARTICIPATION: Beth Campbell reported that she had been bitten by a pit bull on the dog’s property. She knocked on the door and the dog went through the door and bit Campbell. The dog had previously bit someone on December 7, 2011. Animal Control stated that they could not do anything as Campbell was on the dog’s property.
Campbell is requesting that the Village update the ordinance regarding vicious dogs and follow up on this issue.
Chism has concerns regarding how the Village will enforce any changes to the Ordinance.
Fruhling-Voges has concerns regarding the issues. She has done a lot of research about vicious dogs. She also has concerns regarding chaining animals.
Jamie Kofoot expressed concern regarding safety of her children regarding pitbulls and rotweillers in the back yard. One of the dogs pulled the stake half way out of the ground and was aggressive to the child. Kofoot reported that the owner of the dogs did not see a problem with the animal’s behavior.
She is concerned with the number of dogs running loose. This is a danger to the children. She is willing to work with the Village to find a solution. The safety of the residents and children of the community should be a priority for the Village.
The Public Health and Safety Committee will meet with Village residents to discuss the concerns and work to find solutions.
Terry Lawhead expressed concerns regarding violent dogs. He stated that some dogs are vicious and can not be trusted. He was attacked when the dog was tethered.
Art Raap questioned the number of dogs allowed by the Village. He would like the Village be proactive following up on the issues such as number of dogs and vicious dogs.
Lierman requested that all people document their concerns. He stated that we need all the documentation we can to address the situation.
Kofoot stated that she isn’t interested in a lawsuit. She wants the Village to have stricter Ordinances that help the keep the children safe. She feels that Lierman is going from nothing straight to a lawsuit.
Lierman stated that enforcement is the answer to people that will not willingly comply with the ordinances.
Tammy Ingram expressed her concern regarding the dogs on the loose in her neighborhood.
Kofoot expressed again that she wants to be proactive and is more than willing to put her time and effort into the protection of the Village children.
Hackler requested that everyone interested in being on the Committee sign a paper in the back of the room with their name and number. Tony Spurlock, Chair of the Health and Safety Committee would be getting in touch with them regarding a committee meeting in the near future.
Nothing to report.
COMMITTEE REPORTS ARE AS FOLLOWS:
FINANCE: Fruhling-Voges met with Schuren regarding landscaping the welcome signs and to look at the trees downtown. He will get back to Fruhling-Voges with his suggestions.
Fruhling-Voges distributed information on the Champaign County Visitors Bureau. She would like to vote on joining the Bureau at the next meeting. She feels that this will be very beneficial to the Village.
Fruhling-Voges noted that budget work will begin soon. She will schedule with Quednau.
SANITARY SEWER: Nothing to report
PARKS & RECREATION: Silver reported that the Boulder for the Community
Park has been installed. Silver has met with Steven Peters regarding the Community Festival.
PUBLIC HEATH & SAFETY: Nothing to report
BUILDINGS & GROUNDS: McCarty reported that the radios the Village uses currently will not be usable as of December 31, 2012. He presented his research on the situation to the Board. He would like for Rusty Chism to come to the next meeting to discuss the matter as he has a good understanding of the issue.
Hackler and Rigdon led the discussion of possible community center. The proposed property is at 306 Meadow Drive. It is owned by Ralph Woodard. It is 8000 square feet. The County’s estimated value for tax purposes for the property is $230,000. The price works out to be about $12.50 per square foot.
Rigdon told the Woodards that the Village only had $100,000 for a building, the Woodard family agreed to donate the difference. If the Board approves the purchase, the purchase price will be $100,000. No action will be taken by the Board until the next fiscal year.
Work on the building can be done by our maintenance staff in the winter during their down time. Some changes that will be necessary include: sprinklers, ADA restrooms, and a kitchen. The ceilings will be returned to 12 foot ceilings. A new roof was put on the building in 2011.
STREETS & ALLEYS: Chism noted that the maintenance staff has been working on identifying problem sidewalks. Peters requested 3 bids. Rigdon noted that Berry’s bid although the highest did include trucking. Peters noted that trucking was not needed and had not been requested in the bid specs. Chism motioned and McCarty seconded to accept Cross’ bid for $18,314. Roll call vote was taken: Fruhling-Voges – Aye, Silver – Aye, Chism – Aye, Rigdon – Aye, Spurlock – Aye, and McCarty – Aye. Motion passed 6-0.
CLERK’S DESK: Nothing to report
ATTORNEY’S DESK: Nothing to report.
At 10:40, Silver motioned and Spurlock seconded to adjourn the meeting.
These minutes are respectfully submitted.