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Thomas Clatterbuck

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The Jacksonville City Council has tabled a resolution endorsing adding the downtown area to the Register of Historic Places. Getting the district listed in the Register would allow some property owners access to tax credits. Because the official decision on the Register designation will likely be decided before the next meeting, tabling the discussion is a de facto “no” vote. The Council took no action on the Local Landmark District.

Public engagement from property owners was cited as the main reason the Council voted to table the resolution. Bob Bonjean was the most vocal critic of the proposed district. He was concerned about weakening the rights of property owners to modify their properties as they saw fit. Other owners felt they had not been property informed that the district was being created, and said they had only learned about it in the last few weeks.

It was a classic case of the future belonging to those who show up. Opponents of the district were present at both meetings, but no owners who supported the district came out. Even aldermen who were personally supportive of the district saw these as valid concerns and delayed the vote. However, the district may still be listed in the National Registry because that is decided by state and federal authorities. The local landmark district that had also been proposed is still being discussed.

Rising rents at the trailer parks

The Council also heard a presentation by several residents of the local trailer park communities. Ron Hoffstadt, Danny Davison, and Gary Barrow discussed how the lot rents at several local parks were being raised dramatically. New ownership of the parks has almost doubled the average rents. While unpopular with tenants, they appear to be within their rights to do.

However, the increased rents present a problem for the current residents. Although they are called “mobile homes,” they are mobile only relative to other buildings. Moving one is a serious undertaking. It can cost several thousand dollars to move a single trailer, and many homes are made up of two or more connected trailers. For the many residents who are on fixed incomes, relocation can be extremely difficult. They also fear that the higher rents will make selling their homes a challenge.

No matter the problems it cause for current residents, no one disputes the legal right of the new owners to raise their rents. The Council was sympathetic to the residents, but was unsure what, if anything, they could do to help. A meeting will be held tonight at the Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church in Jacksonville at 6:30 to discuss the issue further.

You can watch the chamber session above, or the workshop session below:

Senior strategist, statehouse reporter and political correspondent for Springfield Daily. Graduate of District 117 and UIS. Thomas covers stories in both Morgan and Sangamon Counties, as well as statewide politics.

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Springfield approves YMCA TIF, tavern rezoning

Thomas Clatterbuck

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The Springfield YMCA’s upgrade took a step forward at tonight’s city council meeting. $5.9 million in TIF funding was approved for the new facility planned for Enos Park. TIF money will be drawn from both the Enos Park and Downtown TIF funds. This money is only a small portion of the nearly $35 million project. Representatives from the YMCA said that the project could not go forward without the TIF support from the city.

Although the aldermen stated their support for the upgrade, the use of TIF money raised some issues. Because the YMCA is a nonprofit, it will not directly provide any “increment” to the tax base. Even those who otherwise support nonprofits often consider it inappropriate to use TIF money in this way. However, aldermen pointed out that in addition to the $35 million construction project the YMCA is providing, the project should do other things to generate new growth. Hopefully, the new structure will foster development to itself, and better connect the medical districts with downtown.

The real benefit of TIF projects was also touched on in the discussion. Both Alderwoman Dicenso and Alderman McMenamin mentioned the Hy-Vee TIF project. While they both said that Hy-Vee itself was a boon to McArthur Boulevard, Dicenso had a less favorable characterization of how much additional activity that TIF generated.

The TIF funding for the YMCA was approved unanimously.

Rezoning Melrose St.

An old bar location may be getting a second life in Ward 2. 1510 Melrose St. was approved for rezoning to potentially allow a tavern to be opened in the old Sandtrap Bar location. Although the new owners are seeking a tavern license, their stated goal is to be more of a convince store with video gambling. Aldermen Senor supported the new endeavor. He said that if the council continued to vote down rezoning for businesses, it would be increasingly difficult to say Springfield is business friendly.

But several neighbors of the property were opposed to the project. Citing a lack of parking and increased noise, they felt the store would not be a good addition to their neighborhood. Opponents pointed out how close the location is to residential areas, and how many children live in the area. The location also has a bad reputation. Even the new owners admitted that there had been serious problem in the past. However, they said that the hyper focus they would be under would ensure they were a good neighbor.

The rezoning was approved 8-1-1, with McMenamin voting against and Fulgenzi voting present. This only changed the zoning of the location. They will still need to get a liquor and gaming license to actually operate the proposed business.

You can watch the full meeting in the player. The zoning hearing starts around the 15 minute mark, the YMCA TIF starts around the 70 minute mark.

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What to expect from President Trump’s nominee

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The Hon. Amy C. Barrett and the Hon. Diane S. Sykes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Courtesy of the University of Notre Dame and the Wisconsin Court System

Two federal judges from Illinois’ northern district are on President Donald Trump’s shortlist to replace retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Trump told reporters that he would announce his pick to replace the Kennedy on Monday evening. Kennedy was appointed by President Ronald Reagan.

Kennedy was often the swing vote that sided with the liberal end of the court on matters including “in particular, gay rights, and sometimes abortion and even more occasionally race,” said Carolyn Shapiro, associate law professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s College of Law.

Two judges from the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court in Chicago are reportedly being considered: Appellate Judges Amy Coney Barrett and Diane Sykes. Neither live in Illinois.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pointed to Judges Raymond Kethledge and Thomas Hardiman as two that “presented the fewest obvious obstacles to being confirmed,” according to a report from the New York Times.

The likely topic of questions that would come from the Senate for any nominee, Shapiro said, would be about their views on abortion due to a potential challenge to Roe v. Wade. Since Illinois passed House Bill 40, which contained a trigger that would make a national ruling on abortion less of a factor locally, it wouldn’t have near the effect that a ruling changing the legal status of abortion in the U.S. would elsewhere.

“[HB 40] has a lot of guarantees where, regardless of what happens to Roe v. Wade, women will still have access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare in the state,” she said.

Gov. Bruce Rauner shocked Republicans by signing the bill into law. The backlash against the bill was a factor in the freshman governor facing a hard-fought primary challenge in March.

As for the changing dynamic of the court, Shapiro said she expects more cases regarding free speech and its relation to regulation, akin to Janus v. AFSCME, to come before the court in the future.

 

Article by Cole Lauterbach with Illinois News Network. For more INN News visit ILnews.org 

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Project Mack hosts second “Take Back the City” weekend July 20-21

Staff Contributor

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PRESS RELEASE | Project Mack will be hosting our 2nd Annual Take Back the City weekend to wrap up the summer, to be held July 20-21, 2018. In response to the recent violence in Springfield, Project Mack aims to inspire youth to make a positive difference in their lives. The events will bring together current and past students of the city throughout the weekend and allow them to showcase their talents.

The weekend will consist of benefit concert Friday night and our All-star Alumni basketball game on Saturday. All the artists performing at the concert are graduates from our area high schools and now are pursing musical careers. The alumni game will bring back all the best basketball players who’ve come from the Springfield area. Additionally, there will be vendor & organization information tables available on both days.

All proceeds from the event will go toward 3 scholarships created at SHS, LHS, and SSHS in memory of the innocent gun violence victims.

 

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