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  • Kent Casson

Concerns voiced over proposed complex

Michael Chrisman and Keenan Wilson look over papers at the Chenoa Zoning meeting Monday.

While the agenda also included a proposed solar farm, those attending Monday’s meeting of the Chenoa Zoning Board were really there for the discussion item of a proposed apartment complex.

The complex would be behind and west of the car wash on the west end of town. An official hearing will not take place until the next regular Zoning Board meeting in March and board president Dan Boian noted the group was simply gathering information.

The owner who lives in Congerville and has a realty business in Bloomington already owns an apartment house in town near Owsley and Second Avenue. The land at the west end of town is around an acre.

“He wants to put two units on it,” explained Boian. “We don’t know how many apartments per unit.”

This piece of land would have to be rezoned residential for a complex such as this to be built but many local residents are speaking out against the idea, as they are hoping for further commercial development.

Sarah Michaels, who lives near Chenoa and helps with local revitalization and other projects, pointed to the tourism possibilities for the intersection of U.S. 24 and Old Route 66.

“We really want to be able to bring in a lot of tourist dollars to help our community and dress up that corner,” she noted.

Michaels said business development would bring people to town and historically, this is the vision for the spot.

“Is there anything that says we have to re-zone it?” asked Michaels.

“That whole section is zoned commercial,” replied Zoning Board member Rick Carranza.

Resident and business owner John Cerda asked about the possibility of an enterprise zone, which would not have to just include local incentives but state incentives as well.

“I feel that’s more the route we need to be taking,” said Cerda.

David Shane said the city had opportunities for commercial development which ended up going to Gridley since it was more economically feasible for them. He feels the east side would be a better fit for an apartment building since there is already a car wash, fast food and a hotel to the west.

“I don’t understand why they want to put an apartment building in the middle of a commercial area.”

Zach Lopeman admitted he does not want the complex pushed out of town but thinks it needs a different location. Lopeman suggested if residential development is allowed there to make sure commercial businesses are on the first floor – something similar to buildings near the Illinois State University campus.

“Whatever you do, you’re going to set a precedent,” said observer J.D. Skaggs.

Although the Zoning Board will eventually vote on a recommendation for the complex, the City Council will have the final say in the matter.

Meanwhile, no action was taken on the solar farm listed on the meeting agenda. Boian noted they had an inquiry from one wanting to come to town.

“This one would be in city limits,” Boian explained.

The next Chenoa Zoning Board meeting is set for March 6 at 6:30 p.m.

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