Peoria County Board Observer Report
Vice Chairman James Fennell presided at the Peoria County Board meeting's regularly scheduled second Thursday 6 p.m. board meeting with the absence of Chairman Andrew Rand. Member Windish was also absent. Board members and staff were sitting with social distancing and COVID masks in the County Building board room with members Salzer and Daley participating by phone. Members of the public could watch the meeting live via Facebook or YouTube and at different times on Cable Access 22. (Public comments were to be sent to the County Clerk by 3 p.m. on the day of the board meeting and would be read into the record.) County Clerk Rachel Parker read public comments from the following in support of the agenda item regarding the Hanna City Trail: 1) from Roberta English, Wildlife Prairie Park, trail will enhance the Park and be a benefit to the county; 2) Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, benefits of the proposed trail include recreation, added property value, tourism regional attraction; 3) Heart of Illinois Group Sierra Club, Rock Island Trail shows economic values and growth from trails including preservation of a green corridor; 4) Brett Baker, Bike Peoria, petition with 1,719 signatures in support of the trail and urge that funding be secured to acquire the trail.
The first Resolution was the Intergovernmental Agreement between Peoria County, the City of Farmington, Fulton County, and Village of Hanna City for the formation of the Hanna City Trail Negotiation Commission. County Administrator Scott Sorrel explained that the main purpose was establishing a body that could proceed with grant applications. Hanna City Mayor Winteroff was in the audience. The project would acquire 24.7 miles of right-of-way that has been rail-banked for years. Board member Sharon Williams was credited with her earnest work on this project since she became a Peoria County Board member and she would be the Board representative on the Negotiation Commission. The significance of this effort is the Federal Government has said this is the last chance for the trail section to be purchased as previous extensions of time have been approved. If the project cannot go forward the land will be released from rail-banking and sold. The goal is to apply for federal grant funding which will cover 80% of the purchase. Twenty per cent is to be a local match and state grants could pay up to half of that. The Board would allocate $170,225.80 as it’s pledge for the funding to come from the Keystone Fund, which is used exclusively for economic development purposes. Mr. Sorrel explained that trail projects like this are classic examples of economic development. Rural area Board member Paul Rosenbaum commented that he had a call from a subdivision resident near Wildlife Prairie Park who is on the subdivision council and strongly urged support for this on behalf of the subdivision. Sharon Williams spoke to receiving calls and communications in support. Board member Dillon thanked Mrs. Williams for her persistence on this project and gave his support. Brian Elsasser said this is a very worthy project as did Kate Pastucha. Vice Chairman Fennell said he had calls in support and others spoke to strong support. The Resolution passed unanimously.
The last Resolution was from County Operations regarding hiring a software consultant to evaluate and integrate the three legacy County software systems use for a range of work from finances, budget, banking, and accounts receivable. County Administrator Sorrel explained that one of the systems is being phased out and there will not be any support or upgrades. This resolution is to enable the County to find a single source software solution for replacing the three systems. He explained it is a very complex process requiring mapping of all business processes that are currently handled by the three different programs. Having this project done will help in being able to negotiate for the best replacement and be sure the system fits with the county needs. There were comments from Board members questioning why a consultant has to be hired. Board member Rob Renau explained that the work to get the right software has to be done and is essential before money is spent. Board member Rieker said from his experience such systems have to work well and cannot risk being poorly done and it has to be planned right to begin with. It is a good investment up front. The resolution passed unanimously.
The Consent Agenda had 12 items listed and all were approved unanimously with no items pulled for discussion. The agenda section Zoning Ordinance and Resolutions had 4 items listed. The first two were zoning cases which were both approved: 1) a Special Use for a pet grooming business located in Medina Township employing two people not residing at a private residence where the business will be located in accessory structure which zoning normally specifies is for storage only and it will open an hour earlier (8 a.m.) that existing zoning specifies; 2) a variance for the height of a cell tower which zoning states is not to exceed 75 feet when in a residential area and the USCOC of Central Illinois tower wants to be 195 ft. high in a Rural Residentially zoned area. The lot line setback is to be 50% of the height and a variance was approved for a shorter 82 ft. setback.
Two proclamations were given: 60th Anniversary of the Community Workshop and Training Center; recognition of LeColis Reed for his dedication and long-time volunteer service on the Peoria County Board of Election Commissioners and previously as a City of Peoria Election Commissioner since 2006.
There were a variety of comments under the Miscellaneous and Announcements agenda item including congratulations to Linda Daley for her honor from the Peoria Historical Society. Jim Dillon noted that Fiber Welding has a contract from clothing company Ralph Lauren and this is an example of new opportunities for the community. A motion was passed to continue the County COVID emergency declaration to enable being qualified for any possible federal or state funding support. The meeting was adjourned at 7:05 p.m. Joyce Blumenshine, Observer
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