The Highland City Council went against recommendation of the city’s planning and zoning board and approved a new development for active seniors called Highland Villas.
During its meeting on Aug. 20, the council annexed eight acres of land owned by Frey Properties of Highland, LLC. The land is located on the north side of Illinois 143, about 100 feet west of Valentine Lane, near Silver Lake Park.
The property has been in the Southwestern Illinois Development Authority’s sites as the future location of a 48-unit, income-restricted housing development for active seniors.
Highland Villas will have 42 one-bedroom and six two-bedroom units for residents ages 55 or older.
The design also includes amenities such as walking paths, individual entrances, high energy-efficiency standards, a residents’ community building with gathering spaces, a computer lab, laundry facilities and on-site management.
The cost will be about $9.5 million, according to SWIDA’s Executive Director Michael Lundy.
City Manager Mark Latham said the project will help to generation about $250,000 worth of property tax revenue for the city.
The city’s planning and zoning board met in a special meeting last week to decide if the project should be recommended for approval by the council. To move forward, the project needed multiple items passed including the proposed annexation, rezoning for multi-family use and a special-use permit.
During the meeting, residents of the subdivisions that neighbor the project voiced multiple concerns, the first of which was drainage.
“It’s going to look like Silver Lake out there,” Mike Zobrist said.
Multiple citizens also spoke to the risk seniors could face exiting the development in their vehicles.
Entrance to the units will be located on a straightaway of Illinois 143 coming into the city from the dam of Silver Lake. Many drivers speed before entering town, where the speed limit is reduced from 45 mph to 35 mph. The members said that this will pose threat for senior drivers pulling out of the unit.
“I’m scared and I’ve lived there 40 years,” Dennis Kampwerth said.
The fear of falling property values also were discussed.
Other concerns included increased traffic, lack of sidewalks to the neighboring areas and parking. The citizens of Holiday Manor also spoke of being forced to annex in to the city. Some citizens said they would sell their homes if this happened.
“The whole neighborhood is going to change,” Janna Beckman said.
Many of these fears were shared last month during a previous informational meeting hosted by SWIDA. Lundy and his team were able to speak to how they would address those concerns during and after the special meeting.
For drainage, Lundy said their solution would be three-fold:
First, the plan includes a second detention basin, instead of the one initially proposed. In addition, Lundy relayed that the development’s curbing is designed to help storm water flow toward the city’ drainage system.
Finally, the over 80 percent of the project is designed to be green space, which Lundy said will help to soak up a lot of the runoff.
As for property values, David Dodson, the CEO of Bywate Development Group, SWIDA’s partner for the project, said that they are planning to spend $9.5 million on the project, and plan to use quality materials to make the development look nice. He said he believes the project would work to enhance the area’s value.
“This is a handsome set of buildings that a community should be proud of,” he said.
Lundy also cited some of the group’s past projects, including a single-family housing project in east Alton. The project claimed an award for housing excellence from the Illinois Housing Council (IHC) two years ago for how it helped to enhance the area. He said that is an example of the quality they are planning to bring to Highland.
“I think we will be very proud of it when it is all said and done,” Lundy said.
Lundy also said that the Highland Villas is designed to have 1.5 parking spaces per unit, however areas have been designated areas that could be converted for extra parking. For citizens without cars, Lundy said they will be able to utilize community resources such as the Friends Van at HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Highland, or the Madison County Transit Runabout service.
For traffic concerns, Marsha Maller, one of the project engineers explained their traffic analysis from the Illinois Department of Transportation, which said that the proposed 48-units would create less than a 1 percent traffic increase.
City Attorney Mike McGinley spoke to forced annexation. He said that while a city ordinance states that if at least 60 acres or property is completely surrounded by city limits the city could force annexation. However, he said that Holiday Manor will not be completed surrounded once this land is annexed in, and if it was the city would not be interested.
“This administration has zero concern of force annexing anyone in,” McGinley said.
After the discussion, the planning and zoning board voted to recommend the project’s site plan for approval by the council, but recommended against the special-use permit and rezoning request. Sitting board members Brad Korte and Jay Korte were the only two members to vote in favor of recommending approval.
“My opinion as a whole is this would be good for the city of Highland,” Brad Korte said.
Bill Koehnemann, Deanna Harlan, Jim Gallatin, and Robert Vance voted against recommending the measures. The board members said that while they were in favor of the project, they thought the location was wrong for senior housing units due to the traffic safety issues.
“I’d love to see it somewhere else,” Harlan said.
At the council meeting, the council members took a different view.
Councilwoman Peggy Bellm also expressed concerns, but she was more concerned about what could come to the site if the SWIDA project was rejected.
Once the property is annexed to the city, it inherits a single-family residential zoning, but can later be rezoned as the council sees fit. Current county zoning allows only agricultural use. However, that could change at any time and the city would have little to no control over what was developed at the site. She said that possibility could lead to declining property values if the area was industrialized.
“With this development we know exactly what we are getting,” Bellm said.
She also favored extending Highland Police jurisdiction and the ability to control speed limits that the annexation would bring. The city could also oversee any drainage issues, she said.
Frey also agreed with Bellm’s points, though he felt safety was the biggest issue.
Frey relayed that he spoke with some realtors about property values, and they told him that Highland Villas would help to keep property levels safe, whereas another development might not.
Councilman Aaron Schwarz said that overall he understands the concerns brought forward by the citizens. However, he said that he felt like the concerns were properly addressed by SWIDA. Overall, he said that he think it is a good thing for the city. Councilman Neill Nicolaides agreed.
“There’s a need for it,” Schwarz said.
Every council member voted in favor of the five items concerning the Highland Villas project.
As for what comes next, Lundy said they have to finish going through the financial closing process, though they hope to break ground before December.
“We’re very excited to be a part of the city,” Lundy said.
Homecoming parade approved
The council approved a special event application filed by the Highland High School Homecoming Committee for the 2018 HHS Homecoming parade.
The event will be on Sept. 26 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. The parade will leave the Highland School District’s Lindenthal Campus and travel to the Square in downtown Highland for the football team’s annual pep rally.
The committee requested street closures on Spruce and Poplar Streets from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and on those along the parade route between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. In addition, the committee request use of electric, lighting and sound on the Square, 32 vests for parade route volunteers and a police escort, as well as fire trucks and ambulances for the parade.
Volunteers will be present after the pep rally to help clean the Square.
Alley closure request
The council approved the closing of an alley behind Sam’s Pizza, located at 1017 Broadway.
On Sept. 1, the restaurant will host a fundraiser for Nicole Fuenhe, who is fighting cancer. The fundraiser will begin at 1 p.m.
“We’d like to do what we can to help her family,” said Jared Klaus of Sam’s Pizza.
The alley will be closed from Sept. 1 at 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. the following day.
The council approved reappointing Deanna Harlan’s to the Combined Planning and Zoning Board.
Harlan has served on the board since August of 2013. She will serve another five years on the planning and zoning board.
The council amended the city’s sanitary sewer basic user rates ordinance.
The amendment states that the monthly service charge for basic user fees will increase by 10 cents to $9.50 on Sept. 1. The charge will then increase 10 cents over the next two years. The amendment also provides for fraction-of-a-cent increases to the sewer usage rate per 100 gallons.
Nonresidents with city sewer and water will also have a 10 cent increase on Sept. 1. They will pay $13.40, but are excluded from the additional 10 cent increases.
These amendments exclude the rates for nonresidents with city sewer but no water meter and non-city water metered users.
The city recently received approval for $11 million in State Revolving Funds (SRF) to upgrade its Water Reclamation Facility, and improve damaged sewer trunk mains.
Director of Public Works Joe Gillespie said the project’s financial model is based on an annual 2.5 percent revenue growth through 2020. Therefore, sewer rates were adjusted through 2020.
“The rate adjustment will grow the sewer fund to meet the proposed improvements to the plant and sanitary sewer trunk mains,” Gillespie said.
Whether or not additional rate increases are needed will be reviewed in 2020, according to Gillespie.
Project financing determined
The council authorized the city to select Stern Brothers & Co to help finance a water main improvement project.
The project will refurnish along Illinois 143, and Broadway, and in the area of Cedar, Beech, Monroe and Deal Streets. This section of the project is expected to cost the city about $1.7 million.
The city’s Director of Finance Kelly Korte said with the assistance of the independent public finance advisor WM Financial Strategies, the city sent out requests for quotes to finance the project, out of which three lending companies provided quotes.
“This proposal yields the lowest debt service estimate and does not include any special conditions to adhere to,” Korte said.
The council authorized the city to seek bids for the project on Aug. 6. But, because bids have not been received, the final figures for the financing are not available, according to Korte. She said the final amounts could change, but the terms will be upheld as long as the city meets to 90-day time period set by the selected institution.
The council approved an affiliation agreement between Highland Communication Services, the city’s telephone, Internet and television company, Vivicast Media, LLC, and Smithsonian Network Television Service.
The agreement allows HCS to carry the Smithsonian Channel, according to Director of Technology and Innovation Angela Imming.
HCS surplus property
The council declared about $14,440 worth of ONTs, set top boxes, remote controls, and wireless switches as surplus property.
Imming said the items are broken and cannot be fixed, and have no warranty. She said the items will be destroyed following state guidelines.
The council awarded a materials contract to four bidders for about $116,430 worth of materials used for oiling and chipping maintenance.
The bid items were:
- CA-6 aggregate provided by Beelman Logistics, LLC for $9,768;
- CA-7 aggregate provided by Beelman Logistics, LLC for $4,836;
- Grit provided by Beelman Logistics, LLC for $254;
- Seal coat, furnished and delivered by Beelman Logistics, LLC for $31,080;
- MC-800 prime, furnished and applied by Mike A. Maedge Trucking, Inc. for $13,619;
- HFRS-2 emulsion, furnished and applied by JTC Petroleum Company for $34,123;
- Seal coat aggregate, hauled and spread by DeLaurent Construction, Co., Inc., for $22,750.
These materials are included in the city’s Motor Fuel Tax funds for the year 2018.
The Illinois Department of Transportation approved Highland for $255,000 in this year’s Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) program. MFT is a state tax on fuel consumption and must be used for transportation improvements.