Rochelle News-Leader | City council: Apartment development zoning approved

ROCHELLE — At Monday’s meeting, the Rochelle City Council unanimously approved a proposed preliminary and final plat of subdivision for an apartment development on Lake Lida Lane in town. 

New Directions Housing Corporation wants to build a three-story, 30-unit workforce housing apartment building which will have family housing of two and three-bedroom apartments. Rents will be from $500 to $1,180. It will have a community room, library, exercise room and laundry facilities. Apartments will have full kitchens and bathrooms and on-site parking. Units will be handicap accessible. The site is just over five acres and will include a park and green space.

Workforce housing is for households with income between 60-120 percent of the area median income. Rochelle’s median income is $50,000. 60 percent of that is $30,000 and 120 percent is $60,000. 

NDHC did not ask for any incentives from the city. Engineering and architectural documents were submitted to the city and state in recent weeks and NDHC hopes to start construction early in the summer and it will take about a year to complete. 

NDHC is a nonprofit and has built and rehabilitated more than 500 multi-family and single-family units since its inception in 1994. Its purpose is to provide high-quality affordable housing to households who would otherwise be unable to afford safe and decent housing without undue hardship.

“If they were not combining these lots, it’s already zoned for what they want to do,” Mayor John Bearrows said. “For two years we’ve heard about workforce housing. I certainly hope this is a step towards getting some of that. This is just zoning. It’s whether or not we’re going along with combining the two lots.”

Solar

The council unanimously approved a petition by Rochelle Solar to add the terms of 40 years to their special use permit for a future solar farm.

Last year, Rochelle Solar entered into an annexation agreement for 87.89 acres with the city for the southwest corner of Twombly Road and the North Caron Road proposed extension to develop a solar farm. The property was zoned for rural development at the time of annexation, which required a special use permit. That was granted, but Rochelle Solar desired to go up to 40 years of special use to make it consistent with the language in its annexation agreement.

A proposed timeline shown by Rochelle Solar at the meeting said it plans to complete an interconnection agreement with U.S. power grid operator PJM in January 2024 before beginning construction on the solar site in March 2024 and being operational in November 2024.

Almost half of the nearly 90 acres in the area will be covered with solar panels.

14th Street

The council unanimously approved the acceptance of a $326,068 bid from Martin and Company Excavating for improvements to 14th Street.

The improvements will include complete pavement removal and reconstruction more suited for the truck route. Approved Monday was phase one of the project, which will go from Lincoln Avenue to 6th Avenue. The second phase will be completed when funds allow. The Martin bid is approximately 16 percent lower than an engineer’s estimate of cost of $378,000.

The city manager and/or the city engineer will have the authority to negotiate further change order work, not to exceed $52,000, within the proposed contract to facilitate other improvements and upgrades to streets adjacent to the project. It is anticipated the construction project will be substantially complete by the end of June.

A portion of the funds for the project come from an agreement with Silgan Containers that resulted in the permanent closure of 15th Street in 2001 for an expansion.

Well 8

The council unanimously approved a resolution to complete an EDA grant application for an iron removal plant at Well 8 that would commit $3.6 million for the $7.2 million project.

The grant will likely be submitted this month and construction would coincide with the city receiving any grant funds. The city’s $3.6 million portion would be funded through the SRF loan program with the IEPA.

RMU expenditures

The council unanimously approved the purchase of 30 single-phase pad mount transformers for Rochelle Municipal Utilities for $194,270 in an effort to keep inventory high in the case of a possible future significant weather-related event with lead times of transformers climbing rapidly.

Also unanimously approved Monday was a purchase order for 360 LED streetlights for $75,960. That makes up for year’s worth of streetlights as the city works to replace deteriorating infrastructure.

Swearing-in

Rochelle Police Department’s Jim Gilliam was sworn in to his new position as sergeant at the meeting. Gilliam has been with the department since 2005 and has experience as a taser instructor, field training officer and has been a member of the emergency response team for 15 years. He’s currently attending school for police staff and command. Gilliam will be assigned to the patrol division.

Good News 

City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh presented a Good News award to Finance Director Chris Cardott and her team for receiving a certificate of excellence for the eighth year in a row from the Government Finance Officers Association.

“It’s been a really hectic year for Chris because we’re going through an ERP implementation, which is a complete new software package for pretty much everything we do at the city,” Fiegenschuh said. “You and your team are amazing and I appreciate everything you do and wanted to recognize you tonight for your hard work.”

Eagle scout

Bearrows presented a gold key to the city during the meeting to Jeremiah Diehl, who raised money and did a personal hygiene product drive for the Rochelle Food Bank for his eagle scout project. Diehl has spent 12 years in the scouts.

Ninjay H Briotyon

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