Sangamon County Board debates residential rezoning request
Sangamon County Board met Tuesday, July 12.
Here are the minutes as provided by Sangamon County:
SANGAMON COUNTY CLERK
SANGAMON COUNTY COMPLEX
200 SOUTH NINTH STREET – ROOM 101
SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS 62701
TELEPHONE: 217-753-6700/FACSIMILE: 217-535-3233
SANGAMON COUNTY BOARD
JULY 12, 2016
The Sangamon County Board met in Reconvened Adjourned June Session on July 12, 2016 in the County Board Chambers. Chairman Van Meter called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m.
Mr. Smith gave the Invocation and Mrs. Williams led the County Board in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Chairman Van Meter asked County Clerk Gray to call the roll. There were 25 Present –
4 Absent. Mr. Fraase, Mr. Preckwinkle, Mrs. Small and Mr. Snell were excused.
PRESENTATION BY RSM-EXTERNAL AUDITORS
Auditor Andy Goleman stated it is their duty to report on the findings and report of the outside auditors for Sangamon County’s last audited fiscal year, which is FY15. On Wednesday, July 6th, the Auditors Office sent out an email to all the County Board members with an attached PDF file containing the annual FY15 audit. On Thursday, July 7th there was an email from Deputy Auditor Terry Viar which contained the audit letter from RSM. Since then, both the annual financial report and the single audit report for FY15 have been posted on their website. They are here tonight to report to the County Board their findings. He introduced Randy Ragan, from RSM, to give a report on their findings.
Mr. Ragan addressed the County Board. He summarized the discussion he had tonight with the Finance Committee to go over the results of their audit of the November 30, 2015 financial statements. They completed their audit on June 30, 2016, and issued their report that day. Their report on the financial statements is an unmodified opinion, which is the highest level of attestation they can put on a set of financial statements. It is kind of the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” on the quality of the statements and support for the numbers included therein.
They discussed, at some length, a new requirement in the 2015 audit, which is a requirement that all local governments now have to put the liability for the pension plan on their books. It has always been a footnote disclosure, but the actual liability has to now go on the books. This happens on the 1st day of the fiscal year. On December 1, 2014 there was about $24,000,000 in liability from IMRF pension plans that came onto the financial statements. There are not very many local governments they deal with that could stand that level of a hit to their financial statements. Due to the strong financial position Sangamon County is in, they still have an almost $60,000,000 net position, assets minus liabilities, at the end of the fiscal year. They also discussed three suggestions they have for improving controls and procedures. The County Auditor’s Office and other management are already at work to make changes to two of those three. They also have a plan for the third comment. They hope to have no comments at this point next year.
A motion was made by Mr. Montalbano, seconded by Mr. Bunch, for approval of the Minutes of June 14, 2016. A voice vote was unanimous.
A motion was made by Mr. Bunch, seconded by Mr. Montalbano, to place correspondence on file with the County Clerk. A voice vote was unanimous.
1. Resolution approving the designation of the Buffalo Hart Presbyterian Church as a Sangamon County Historic Site.
A motion was made by Mr. Mendenhall, seconded by Mr. O’Neill, to place Resolution 1 on the floor. Chairman Van Meter asked County Clerk Gray to call the roll. Upon the roll call vote, there
were 24 Yeas – 0 Nays for the adoption of Resolution 1.
2. 2016-015 – Jay A. Timm, 2708 N. Peoria Road, Springfield – Granting a Conditional Permitted Use and Variances. County Board Member – Annette Fulgenzi, District #17.
A motion was made by Mrs. Fulgenzi, seconded by Mr. Stumpf, to place Resolution 2 on the floor. A motion was made by Mr. Stumpf to waive the reading of the professional staff’s report.
There were no objections. A voice vote was unanimous for the adoption of Resolution 2.
3. 2016-016 – Douglas & Chassidy Houser, 3602 N. Lincoln Trail, Pleasant Plains – Granting an Amendment and Variance. County Board Member – Harry “Tom” Fraase, District #1.
A motion was made by Mr. Tjelmeland, seconded by Mrs. Hills, to place Resolution 3 on the floor. A motion was made by Mr. Stumpf to waive the reading of the professional staff’s report. There were no objections. A voice vote was unanimous for the adoption of Resolution 3.
4. 2016-017 – Amy & Jacob Featherston, 9200 E. Loami Road, Loami – Granting a Rezoning and Variance. County Board Member – Craig Hall, District #7.
A motion was made by Mr. Hall, seconded by Mr. Thomas, to place Resolution 4 on the floor.
A motion was made by Mr. Stumpf to waive the reading of the professional staff’s report. There were no objections. A voice vote was unanimous for the adoption of Resolution 4.
5. 2016-018 – The Estate of Joseph J. Myerscough, in the 300 Block of Andrew Road, SpringfieldGranting a Rezoning and Variance. County Board Member – Annette Fulgenzi, District #17.
A motion was made by Mr. Ratts, seconded by Ms. Sheehan, to place Resolution 5 on the floor. Chairman Van Meter asked the professional staff to give the procedural history of the case.
Trustin Harrison, professional staff, stated the petitioner is requesting, for proposed Parcel 1, approximately 13 acres, a rezoning from “A” Agricultural District to “R-1” Single-Family Residence District and a variance to allow the lot depth to be greater than two and one-half times the lot width.
Steve Keenan, professional staff, stated the staff recommends approval. The LESA score of 192 indicates the property is suitable for agricultural usage; however, the unimproved subject property sits along the western edge of a long-established residential area. Further, the proposed Parcel 1 is splitting approximately 13 acres of pasture and a pond from the cropland so it can remain in production. The purpose of the variance is to allow a split with a new driveway off Springfield Street where it is flat. The topography on the subject property slopes down and then rises rapidly, which could make safely siting a driveway off Andrew Road difficult. The standards for variation are met. Mr. Harrison stated the Zoning Board of Appeals concurs with the staff recommendation and recommends approval of the requested zoning changes and variances.
Jerry Hicks, at 400 Chatham Road in Springfield, addressed the County Board. He stated that he is with Agrivest, which is a farm management real estate company that has the property for sale, and they are acting for the Myerscough estate. They are asking to take 11 acres of pasture and pond and rezone it for a single residential property. They have been trying to sell the entire 75 acres as one parcel and have not had success. They did have several questions asking to make a building site out of the 11 acres and the pasture because there are all single-family homes up and down that street. The 65 acres will stay agriculture in production. They thought they could sell it this way and help settle the estate for this family.
Nancy Martin, an attorney with the firm Graham & Graham, addressed the County Board. They are located at 1201 S. 8th Street in Springfield. Her immediate clients are the Vignali’s and the Himelsbach’s who own the bulk of the ground on the east side of Springfield Street, which is adjacent to the Myerscough property. Their family also has farm ground going into Andrew. There are also neighbors adjacent to the property that are present. The County Board has been provided with the objections from the petitioners. The bulk of the Andrew residents are also in opposition, so she is kind of speaking for more than just her clients. The general objection is opening this up to new residential development. It is in a mine subsidence area and is in a flood plain. Everyone out there has wells and septic. They talk about how it is difficult to get onto Andrew Road. A gentleman by the name of Chuck Holsworth has been out to see the property many times. He has represented to her clients that he has a pending contract on the entire acreage, and plans to put cattle on the 11 acres that they want to make residential. Her understanding is you can’t put cattle on R-1 property. It just goes to the notion that this can be sold as one continuous tract and for agriculture. He keeps going out there checking out the ground on his four wheelers. Paul Rice has been told there is a sale pending for the entire tract of ground and they are not accepting any other bids now. They seriously question the necessity to break this off into an “R” piece, and she does not understand how they can pasture their cattle on the ground. They would like it to stay agriculture and see no need for this to be broken into residential property, which could possibly impact the neighboring farmers and integrity of the ground as it is right now. These are all people whose families have lived out there for over 50 years.
Mr. Stumpf asked the professional staff to comment on the pasturing on the property.
Mr. Harrison stated there are no restrictions in Sangamon County regarding agricultural animals on any parcel of land
Mr. Stumpf also asked if there could be a maximum of three homes on this property. There could be one home on the 13 acres, another residence on the other remaining acres and then another five acres could be split off for another home. Mr. Stumpf asked if they would have to go through the county land subdivision process if they were to develop this area. Mr. Harrison stated they would have to come back before this board for the rezoning and for the land subdivision process. It would come through multiple times. Mr. Stumpf asked if it would have to be approved by Public Health as well. Mr. Harrison stated it would and would go through the Land Subdivision Committee. The process would also require notice to the neighbors.
Mr. Krell asked the opponents if Springfield Street, that goes back in there, is still private property. Attorney Martin stated it is still private property, and was never platted. They found that sometime in the late 1960’s the township started maintaining it. All of the pins are on the Myerscough side of the ground. The road, which is very narrow, is entirely on the Vignali’s and a couple of their adjacent neighbor’s properties. It is deemed to be public because the township maintains it, but it is completely on her client’s property. Mr. Krell stated they are saying this could have three homes back there. This is all septic and wells. He asked if it would be a hardship to the area by putting more septic tanks and wells. Attorney Martin stated it would. It is already known to have all kinds of water problems with the septic drainage fields not being appropriate. The EPA is aware of the problem, but because there is no way to get public sewer there, it’s just kind of ignored. The neighbors do know it is a problem. Mr. Krell asked if there is plenty of traffic coming in and out of the Poe property because of the business he has over there. They are saying it would be a hardship to make another driveway off of Andrew Road. Attorney Martin stated that is correct. Right now the school bus that comes there now has to turn around in Raymond’s area. Mr. Krell asked if the speed limit through there is 30 or 35 miles per hour. Attorney Martin stated it is approaching that mark. It might technically still be 45 for part of that area, and then it slows down.
Mr. Bunch asked if they can only build one home if this passes and if they would have to come back before the board if they want more. Trustin Harrison, professional staff, explained that there could be a total of three single-family residences put on this entire property. Splitting off the current parcel of land would allow the one on the proposed 13 acres, and then there is an exemption that would still go with the land in the rear to allow them to have two more parcels of land. This would lead to a total of three single-family residences allowed on this property. Mr. Bunch stated he was a little misled and thought they would have to come back to the board for any further approval of more than one house. Chairman Van Meter clarified that they would have to come back before the board if they want more than three houses.
Mr. Mendenhall asked the professional staff if the LESA score of 192 encompasses the entire tract of land. Molly Berns, professional staff, clarified that it does. Prior to the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, they recomputed the LESA score based on carving off the 13 acres. The LESA score for just the 13 acres is 177. Primarily, the LESA score is comprised of many different things, but one of the most significant things is the quality of the soil. The back area where this is farmland is incredibly good Central Illinois dirt, and it is wonderful soils. She believes that’s why the score of 192 was so high. When you take off the 13 acres, it is comprised of soils that have a lesser quality value, and that was due to the nature of the drop of the LESA score.
Mr. Smith stated they have heard 11 acres from the proponent and 13 acres. He asked what tract they are talking about. Trustin Harrison explained that he believes the discrepancy is that the pasture area is approximately 11 acres and they are requesting the additional two acres to access Springfield Street, so the proposed tract is a total of approximately 13 acres. Mr. Smith asked if they have a process for the well and septic question that has been raised before any construction of any residences could occur. Mr. Harrison stated that all approval would have to go through Public Health. Mr. Smith asked if a building permit would not be issued if it was found to not be adequate to support the additional residences on these properties. Mr. Harrison stated that is correct to his knowledge, but that would be a question for Public Health. Mr. Smith stated that is not really related to zoning, but it is part of the process.
Mr. Krell stated they would be taking up good agricultural ground with that extra two acres. It is not impossible for them to build a driveway out to Andrew Road.
Mr. Hicks gave his rebuttal. The question about the driveway and the reason they wanted to go to Springfield Street was when you look at the way the land lays and the creek that comes across, there is a tremendously deep ravine that comes across almost ¾ of that property. It leaves a very narrow band that is steep going down into that ravine. They would have to take a lot of dirt off the top in order to make a narrow width of 150-feet wide to make a driveway back in there. That would be putting it into the lowest part of that hill. A school bus going up and turning around in Raymond Poe’s drive is different than a school bus stopping at the bottom. That is what had these families concerned and is the reason for asking for this. They are strictly asking for one residence. They do have an offer on the entire property, but it has contingencies. Anyone with real estate licenses knows it is not sold, and they are accepting good offers on this property, contrary to what they were told.
Mr. DelGiorno asked what the time frame is for closing on the contract he mentioned. Mr. Hicks stated it has about 60 days to go. Mr. DelGiorno asked if it is premature for the County Board to make this decision at this point in time. Mr. Hicks explained that the offer was not in when they made the application here. They were trying to open up options for the family to sell the part that looked like it was the most saleable right now.
Attorney Martin gave her rebuttal. She thinks pretty much everything has been said and they understand the issues. Even when they broke out that piece of property the score was 177. If you look at the paperwork it says 175 and above is deemed to be strictly agricultural. Even though it may not be 192 for this acreage, it seems perfectly sensible that it should remain agriculture because it is 177, which is greater than 175.
Chairman Van Meter asked for a vote on Resolution 5. Upon a roll call vote, there were 18 Yeas – 6 Nays. Those voting nay were: Mr. DelGiorno, Mr. Hall, Mrs. Hills, Mr. Krell, Mrs. Scaife and Mr. Thomas. Resolution 5 written “to grant a rezoning and variance” was adopted.
6. 2016-019 – Randy Pickett, 2900 South 11th Street, Springfield – Granting a Rezoning and Denying Variances. County Board Member – Joel Tjelmeland, Jr., District #14.
A motion was made by Mr. Tjelmeland, seconded by Mr. Sullivan, to place Resolution 6 on the floor. A motion was made by Mr. Stumpf to waive the reading of the professional staff’s report.
There were no objections. A voice vote was unanimous for the adoption of Resolution 6.
WAIVER OF TEN-DAY FILING PERIOD
A motion was made by Mr. Montalbano, seconded by Mr. Bunch, to waive the ten-day filing period. A voice vote was unanimous.
TEN-DAY FILING PERIOD WAIVED
7. Resolution approving amendments to the FY2016 budget.
A motion was made by Mrs. Fulgenzi, seconded by Mr. Madonia, to place Resolution 7 on the floor. Chairman Van Meter asked County Clerk Gray to briefly introduce his legislation.
County Clerk Don Gray explained that the budget amendment is to help enhance Election operations for the November General Election. They are anticipating an enthused and eager electorate with a tremendous amount of voter participation, coupled with much more they have to provide in services, such as Election Day voter registration. The bulk of the request pertains to personnel. They are looking to enhance what they can provide to speed up the processing of voter registration in the polling places. They will be providing for 150 additional personnel to help with the registration. The intensity of the amount of personnel assigned to a polling place will depend on the number of precincts in that polling place. It will help them to be equipped with necessary equipment.
They are also looking to bolster operations within the office for the early vote process. They will be encouraging, at a much higher level, folks to early vote. It is much more cost effective for them to service a voter during the early vote process than it is in the polling place. Every vote they can cast early will alleviate strain in the polling places, and is a cost savings to them. They will be providing for two early vote locations within the county office. They will be in the Election Office and Vital Records Department. With the heightened amount of folks they need to employee, in comparison to comparable counties, they found that Sangamon County was actually paying the least in election judge pay.
Election judges are doing so much more in the polling place since the change in law. The way they operate elections has changed dramatically, and there is much more that election judges need to understand and do in a polling place. They are finding, from judges who have been with them for a long period of time, how rapidly it is changing and how often it changes. They are having a hard time retaining election judges. By increasing their pay, they are hoping it will be an incentive for them to stick with us. Election judge pay will move from $150 per person to $200. They have some additional training opportunities in here to get people ready, some marketing money to get the word out about those they need to recruit, and ballot printing will be bolstered up. State mandates 110%. They will, of course, provide for that by law, and they are also going to give themselves some insurance of another 10% on top of that. It is not inconceivable to think that in a 75% turnout county like Sangamon, that they will exceed 100% plus. It is a fairly high percentage of turnout in a general election in an even year. With these new services they have to provide, like Election Day registration, not knowing what those numbers are and where they come from, they need to be prepared. They are also asking for the printing of more ballots for the early vote process.
Chairman Van Meter asked how they are going to pay for all this. County Clerk Gray stated that election judge pay was fully funded in the stopgap budget. They do get some grant reimbursable money from the state. They have to outlay the money to receive it back. They are outlaying $45,000, and $40,500 will come back to them. They found they weren’t fully leveraging their power of reimbursement from the state. They are also keeping an eye on things that are happening at the state. The state is asking them to do more, and fiscal considerations are getting tougher. They are anticipating a few things that weren’t budgeted, and that still need negotiated, such as their overall maintenance agreement for the voter registration system. That is a $90,000 expense to them annually that was always picked up by the state. That wasn’t budgeted for in the state budget. They are trying to do all they can to keep costs down, but still provide the very best customer service. Unfortunately, elections are costly. They want to make sure things go smoothly and that people vote at healthy smooth rates. They want to provide for these new accesses they have to voter participation on Election Day. That requires personnel and much more hardware, hence the extraordinary request they are asking of you.
Chairman Van Meter asked if this plan has been vetted and approved with the chairmen of the two political parties. County Clerk Gray stated that it has and they both did approve it. Chairman Van Meter asked if it was also approved by the Election Oversight Committee and Finance
Committee. County Clerk Gray stated it was approved by both committees.
A voice vote was unanimous for the adoption of Resolution 7.
There was no old business.
-Fire Protection Districts
A motion was made by Mr. Montalbano, seconded by Mr. Bunch, for approval of the appointments. A voice vote was unanimous.
REPORTS OF COUNTY OFFICIALS, REPORTS OF STANDING COMMITTEES,
REPORTS OF SPECIAL COMMITTEES, COMMITTEE REPORT ON CLAIMS
A motion was made by Mr. Bunch, seconded by Mr. Montalbano, to place the reports on file
with the County Clerk. A voice vote was unanimous.
Chairman Van Meter reminded everyone of the annual City Versus County Softball Game on Sunday, July 17, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. at Robin Roberts Stadium.
A motion was made by Chairman Van Meter to recess the meeting to August 9, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. A voice vote was unanimous.
Sangamon County Clerk