ROCHELLE — A new apartment building is planned to come to the south side of the City of Rochelle.
At Monday’s Rochelle City Council meeting, city officials heard a presentation and had their first introduction to New Directions Housing Corporation and its president, Rodger Brown. NDHC wants to put a three-story, 30-unit workforce housing apartment building at Willis Avenue and Randall Road in town 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.
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.
The proposed apartment building will go before the city’s planning and zoning commission on Monday and will come before the city council after that. Brown said he and NDHC are not asking for any incentives from the city.
Brown said engineering and architectural documents were submitted to the city and state this week and he 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. According to Brown’s presentation at the meeting, its sole purpose is to provide high-quality affordable housing to households who would otherwise be unable to afford safe and decent housing without undue hardship.
The council unanimously approved an ordinance waiving the competitive bidding requirements and authorized City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh to accept a proposal from Bruns Construction, Inc. for the demolition of 300 Cherry Ave. for no more than $60,150.
The city obtained a demolition order for the building on Dec. 9, 2021 and an asbestos inspection was conducted and was found negative. Bids were sought from several demolition companies and two quotes were obtained. The Bruns Construction proposal was the lowest.
The council unanimously approved a resolution adopting a customer self-generation net metering policy and an interconnection and net metering program for renewable energy for Rochelle Municipal Utilities customers.
The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act was recently signed into law and required the city to develop a policy for small commercial and residential customers that want to self-generate with solar panels. RMU customers with solar panels will get a credit back onto their bills for power generation that they put back onto the grid if they don’t use it all.
“Net metering is when someone has a solar array on their house and their array is producing more than they are using,” RMU Superintendent of Electric Operations Blake Toliver said. “They’re putting energy back onto the grid. We’ll be giving them a credit for those kilowatt hours that are being pushed back into the system. A dollar amount will be credited onto their bill for that generation. Every meter we have has bidirectional capability.”
Fiegenschuh said the process will now begin with interested customers being able to connect onto RMU’s system. The city’s expenses for maintaining the power grid are calculated into the policy.
The council unanimously approved a resolution opposing state state Senate Bill 2298, which would change the city’s ability to utilize tax increment financing to stimulate redevelopment.
The city’s meeting agenda packet said the proposed bill “attempts to eliminate the effectiveness of the most important tool available to municipalities to enhance positive economic change.”
“We’ve instituted one TIF since I’ve been here and before that, the downtown TIF was put in,” Fiegenschuh said. “I think we use them according to what the statute intends. If you look at Hickory Grove and Kennay Farms Distilling, these projects wouldn’t have happened and that’s what it’s there for. If you want a true definition of blight, look at what Hickory Grove was.”
BHMG Engineers Project Manager Jason Jackson presented a review of a system planning study of the city and RMU’s electric system.
The presentation included potential future improvements totaling $25.5 million that included another new substation, new overhead high capacity power lines across town, transformer work and distribution line upgrades.
“The majority of these improvements are to keep up with an aggressive business development that you guys have been experiencing with heavy power load growth coming into town,” Jackson said.
John Kaltenbach was sworn in as the Rochelle Police Department’s new detective sergeant during the meeting. He’s been with the department since 2004.
“John brings much-needed enthusiasm and wit to a difficult job,” RPD Chief Eric Higby said. “He’s a high performer at his job, but his best work has been setting an example for the rest of us to follow as an honest, wholesome individual.”
The city council recognized the retirement of Sharon Hawkins from its Water Department lab after 23 years at the meeting.
“Sharon is well-known by Rochelle schools and Kishwaukee College for hosting tours of the wastewater treatment plant,” RMU Utilities Superintendent Adam Lanning said. “Sharon prided herself on keeping her lab in perfect order and always meeting all quality control criteria set by the EPA.”