The regular monthly meeting was called to order on Monday evening, November 9, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. by Mayor Larry Dodds.
Trustees present were:
• Charles Morefield - Aye
• David Rathke - Aye
• Benjamin Thackeray - Aye
• Carol Stephenson - Aye
• Jason Wagoner - Aye
• Vincent Beck - Aye
Also present were Superintendent Josh Hereford; Village Treasurer Connie Gossmeyer; Police Chief Ritchie Cooper; Village Attorney Kate Carter.
Trustee Benjamin Thackeray made a motion to dispense with the reading of the minutes and approve as presented. Trustee David Rathke seconded the motion. Vote: Charles Morefield-Aye, David Rathke-Aye, Benjamin Thackeray-Aye, Carol Stephenson-Aye, Jason Wagoner-Aye, Vincent Beck-Aye. Motion carried.
Village Treasurer Connie Gossmeyer gave the Treasurer’s Report for the month of October 2020.
Beginning Balance $284.378.96
Ending Balance $304,811.85
Increase for the month of October 2020 $ 20,432.89
Trustee David Rathke made a motion to approve the Treasurer’s Report for the month of October 2020. Trustee Carol Stephenson seconded the motion. Vote: Charles Morefield-Aye, David Rathke-Aye, Benjamin Thackeray-Aye, Carol Stephenson-Aye, Jason Wagoner-Aye, Vincent Beck-Aye. Motion carried.
Trustee Charles Morefield made a motion to pay the bills as presented. Trustee Benjamin Thackeray seconded the motion. Vote: Charles Morefield-Aye, David Rathke-Aye, Benjamin Thackeray-Aye, Carol Stephenson-Aye, Jason Wagoner-Aye, Vincent Beck-Aye. Motion carried.
At this time Mayor Larry Dodds stated that we would go directly to Old Business to allow Russ Leigh from Russ Leigh & Associates to give his 2019-2020 audit review. Russ Leigh stated overall there are no complaints. He stated it was a clean audit. There were no real issues or significant findings. Russ encouraged the Village to find a way to have 6 months’ worth of cash on hand. Russ Leigh stated increasing the water and sewer rates annually would increase the revenue. Russ mentioned that he thought the water and sewer fund was solid financially.
Village Resident Brandy Hope asked if the town gets more tax revenue from a commercial property versus a residential property. Mayor Larry Dodds said he did not know and that question could be directed to the McLean County Assessor. Russ Leigh stated the tax rates were the same.
At this time Zach Knight, Engineer, with Farnsworth Group discussed the Limited Water Infrastructure Assessment. Zach recommends proactive maintenance for wells 3 & 4 and suggests the Village come up with a rehabilitation cycle for the wells, recommending every 5-7 years. Zach stated that alternating the wells is highly recommended. The water plant and the equipment is well maintained per Zach Knight. Zach recommended that every 20 years the water plant should get a full rehabilitation.
Public Comments- Items on the agenda.
Village Resident Brandy Hope stated she would like to object to the approval of the meeting minutes. Brandy stated that a statement from the Mayor to the Trustees was left out as well as statements from herself and Vickie Cole. It was determined that she might have been looking at the meeting minutes for the incorrect month.
Village Resident Brandy Hope stated that it is her belief that municipal governments have choices when you believe an error was made. She stated you can either vote to rescind or vote to enact. She asked which of these actions Ordinance 2020-14 asks of this board to vote on tonight. Mayor Larry Dodds asked Village Attorney to speak on that topic. Kate Carter stated the Ordinance before the Board tonight is an Ordinance to rescind Ordinance 2018-09. She asked Village Attorney how it was determined that it was in the best interest of the Village to proceed with rescind and if you plan on rescinding, do you plan to replace this Ordinance. Mayor Larry Dodds stated yes, we do. Attorney Kate Carter stated a new Ordinance would be discussed at the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on November 30, 2020 and then the recommendation would go before the Board of Trustees at the December 6, 2020 meeting.
Village Resident Brandy Hope asked in the interim what recourse do the residents have regarding the violations and complaints. Mayor Larry Dodds said you can attend the meetings that you are attending and make your wishes known. Kate Carter stated at this point if the Ordinance is amended, the complaints are invalid because Ordinance 2018-09 was improperly passed. Resident Branny Hope asked in regards to previous enforcement of Ordinance 2018-09 pending complaints with the board, what happens to those if the board votes to rescind? Attorney Kate Carter states what happened in the past is in the past.
Village Resident Dave Breen asked how it is determined that it goes to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Attorney Kate Carter stated amendments to the Zoning Code itself must go to the Zoning Board of Appeals before it is presented to the Board of Trustees. Mayor Larry Dodds said that is the law. Attorney Kate Carter also said that is the Village Code.
Village Resident Brandy Breen asked if the Board surveyed the residents who will be impacted by this decision in effort to gain community input. Mayor Larry Dodds stated he has not. Brandy stated Vickie and I did. We have a petition for you from residents within 300 feet of the current property that is in violation and it’s requesting that you vote to let Ordinance 2018-09 to stand. Brandy gave a copy of the signed petition to Attorney Kate Carter and Mayor Larry Dodds.
Village Resident Vickie Cole read a letter to Village Board regarding Ordinance 2018-09 and Getty Landscaping. She mentions a letter being sent to a local resident regarding his lawn repair business written by Chief of Police Michael Scott pertaining to violations to Ordinance 2018-09. Mayor Larry Dodds stated that it was just a letter mailed and there were no violations issued. Resident Brandy Hope states she has a copy of the letter and there were most certainly violations listed. Mayor Larry Dodds states no fines were issued. Resident Brandy Hope states well, you still sent a letter.
Jimmy Beitz stated he has one question. In the near future, I know everyone is talking about the Getty Lawncare property, if I lived in a residential area and someone decided to bring in a trucking business, you can use me as an example. First of all, I didn’t take my trucking business and shove it down someone’s throat in a residential area. You have a lawncare business that is extremely busy, trucks in and out of there, day and night. Jim Beitz says I know this for a fact, Daton did rent from me in the country and now your allowing this burden to be pushed on residents of 20 years. Who is to say that in 5 years or 10 years, Daton decides he is going to move and sell his property? What happens if he goes down there next to your house Larry? If you drive by there at 8:00 at night there is still a lot of commotion. Village Resident Brandy Hope states it is all day long, in and out. Jimmy Beitz said he had opportunity to build in a commercial zone and he didn’t want to do it and now nobody has any recourse. What if someone comes in and puts a sewage business next to you Vinny, are you going to be happy with it? No, but what are we going to do. We will have no recourse, because we just took this ordinance away. We need to figure out away to have a happy medium. Residential is to be residential not commercial. Trustee Jason Wagoner asked Mayor Larry Dodd, if this Ordinance has to go to the Zoning Board, do we have to make a decision tonight. Mayor Larry Dodds said one of the things to consider at the Zoning Board is the new Ordinance so we can go through the proper process of advertising, holding the meeting and getting a recommendation from the Zoning Board of Appeals. Resident Brandy Hope said but you can also vote to enact the Ordinance. You do not have to void it. As a Board member you can vote to enact and do this the right way.
Resident Vickie Cole said who wants to buy my house tonight? Nobody! Nobody would want to live there. There is at a minimum, bare minimum 8-10 vehicles every single day in and out besides trailers and semis. Every weekend, the whole clan is sitting out there getting drunk. And this is supposed to be residential. My property has gone to hell. Trustee Carol Stephenson said my personal opinion is that it should be zoned commercial. If Compass Insurance is commercial then Daton should be commercial. Resident Vickie Cole said and commercial doesn’t belong in the middle of a residential area. Trustee Carol Stephenson said if he is selling a service as Compass Insurance does right across the street then it should be zoned commercial. Resident Vickie Cole state and I am paying the price. Resident Brandy Breen said and that why we are asking you to say no to the Ordinance in front of you.
Mayor Larry Dodds states I think we have heard your comments on this, all 6 board members are sitting here. We have used all the allotted time. Mr. Breen you didn’t use all your time. Dave Breen stated that he answered to a Board for 37 years, a Board is supposed honest and transparent. Dave states he feels like there hasn’t been a lot of info received by the residents regarding this situation. The were documents that were sent to an attorney and when we requested FOIA the documents were different. That to me is a real problem and we have documentation of that. We have Board members who want to get to the level of name calling on people, to me that is ridiculous. Mayor Larry Dodds, said I’m sorry I’m not quite sure who you are talking about, I know the six people sitting here and I know myself and I haven’t called anybody any names and I think that is improper for you to cite things. Mayor Larry Dodds said I don’t appreciate that you are saying that. Dave Breen said all I am saying is you need to get the input from the residents.
Vickie Cole stated my situation should have been concerning to the Board. I wasn’t taken in consideration at all.
Dan Mulcahey asked the Board what is the process, one Ordinance says if he lives there, he can have a business in his home, and we have another Ordinance 2018-09, he can have a business in his home with these stipulations that it has to appear to be residential and it can’t be conducted between 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. So, at 9:00 all those trucks need to be inside and during the day it has to appear as a residence. Attorney Kate Carter states that Ordinance 2018-09 was passed by the Board of Trustees in September of 2018, however, we looked at it and there were procedural deficiencies on how it was enacted. In order to change zoning regulations, the procedure requires a hearing before the Zoning Board of Appeals and a specific notice in the newspaper. That did not happen here, so the Ordinance is invalid. So, the idea for the Ordinance before the Board today is that they rescind this Ordinance 2018-09, with direction that it goes back to the Zoning Board of Appeals to follow proper procedure and passage.
Trustee Benjamin Thackeray asked Attorney Kate Carter if the Board votes to rescind the Ordinance what happens with the Getty Lawncare situation. Does he have to rezone? Attorney Kate Carter stated the Village can go through the process of rezoning the property and provisions can be placed on the property. Village resident Brandy Hope states it cannot be rezoned because he doesn’t have the proper setbacks. So rezoning is out and that means the village would have to grant him a special use permit or a variance to allow it to happen and that is the intention of you voiding this ordinance tonight. To allow it to continue and there is nothing Vickie can do about it.
Resident Vickie Cole states he got what he wanted illegally at my expense.
Jim Beitz said everyone wants him to have a business, I told Daton why not go down to Brian Becker’s, he said he would sell you a piece. It would be perfect it’s commercially zoned. Brandy Hope said why not by Dollar General, they want to sell that lot, why couldn’t he have built it there.
Jim Beitz said if this would have happened in the City of Bloomington, it would have been stopped.
Resident Brandy Hope said this isn’t a new complaint. We have been complaining since the middle of September and no one made him stop construction. This is why I sent you all the complaints. I just can’t believe that someone wouldn’t have the moral capacity to do the right thing. We are not asking for special treatment, we are just asking for you to enforce the ordinance.
The first special report was given by Police Chief Ritchie Cooper. He states the report is in your folders for review.
Next special report was given my Superintendent of Maintenance Josh Hereford. Josh stated there have been issues with the pumps at the lift station. Josh stated they finished clearing out the drainage ditch through town. Josh stated the Cross-Connection Surveys, required by the EPA, have been mailed to all residents.
Mayor Larry Dodds stated the Animal Control/Zoning Report is in your folders for review.
Mayor Larry Dodds stated the EMA Report is in your folders for review.
Last special report was given by Mayor Larry Dodds. Included in the report is a list of revenues for the month. Josh Hereford and Brent Blair went in the under Main Street to look at the drainage tunnel, pictures are on the table if you would like to look at them. Mayor Larry Dodds stated the meeting with the farmers has been rescheduled for December 1 at 10:00 a.m. Mayor Larry Dodds stated there is a Zoning Board of Appeals Public Hearing is scheduled for November 30, 2020. Larry also stated that there has been discussion between McLean County Health Department and Illinois Department of Public Health to identify rural testing locations. I dedicated our willingness to participate.
Trustee David Rathke, Chairman of the Finance & Audit Committee, reported that the annual audit showed good signs. David stated he thinks the loans are a concern, but for a small town I feel like we are doing good. The Water Report is concerning, we really need to plan a budget over the next few years.
Trustee Carol Stephenson, Chairman of the Police & Liquor Committee, has nothing to report at this time. Trustee Carol Stephenson asked if the speed limit sign had been installed on South Grove Street. Police Chief Ritchie Cooper said we will make sure that gets done.
Trustee Charles Morefield, Chairman of the Water & Sewer Committee, stated we need to schedule a committee meeting to discuss where to do our best work with what money we do have. The media replacement would be number one in my opinion. A committee meeting was scheduled for November 19, 2020 at 7:00 p.m.
Trustee Jason Wagoner, Chairman of the Streets & Lights Committee, has nothing to report at this time.
Trustee Vincent Beck, Chairman of the Maintenance Equipment & Vehicle Committee, stated he talked to Josh about getting a push box for the backhoe. Josh talked to Jeff Winterland and he is going to allow us to use his to see if he likes it before we purchase one.
Next on the agenda was the discussion of the proposed Tax Levy for 2020-21. Mayor Larry Dodds states the EAV increased to $12,008,323.00. The proposed tax levy to be considered at the next meeting is $119,437.00. Mayor Larry Dodds suggests that we remove the levy for garbage disposal since we bill for the cost of the garbage contract. The total suggested levy is 12.86% higher than last year.
Next on the agenda is the review and approval of Ordinance No. 2020-14, to rescind Ordinance 2020-14, an ordinance rescinding Ordinance 2018-09, An Ordinance Amending the Home Occupations Provisions of The Village Zoning Regulations due to improper passage by the Village Board of Trustees.
Village Resident Brandy Hope stated if anyone would like to see some of the documents, I have them. My only other comment about this is that I received a copy of the email from Kate Carter sent to Larry Dodds on September 21, 2020 telling him that it didn’t qualify and it did not qualify, but she was using the old Code and did not consider Ordinance 2018-09. This was on September 21, 2020. I also have a copy of another email where Jay Reece received a copy of it from the previous Village Attorney, Steve Mann and she isn’t sure why Kate wasn’t given a copy of that Ordinance when Jay and Larry were given a copy of that. Village Clerk, Portia Vandegraft, stated the email from Jay Reece was to me and that was a copy of the original Zoning Code and that did not include Ordinance 2018-09. Mayor Larry Dodds stated the materials we were working with did not include Ordinance 2018-09, because we didn’t have it. It was not included with the Zoning Code. We only knew it existed when you brought it to our attention. Brandy, you found it on the website, correct?
Dan Mulcahey asked if there is still an Ordinance 2018-09? Attorney Kate Carter states there is an ordinance, it was passed by this board in September of 2018. Dan Mulcahey stated then enforce it. Attorney Kate Carter stated that proper procedure was not followed therefore that ordinance is invalid. The Village cannot enforce this ordinance. Brandy Hope stated you do not have to rescind the ordinance. Mayor Larry Dodds stated but you can not enforce it because it was not passed properly. You could have come to this meeting with an ordinance to act to enforce this ordinance but that is not what you chose to do, you chose to present an ordinance to rescind. Trustee Vincent Beck, asked if we are acting on anything tonight? Village Clerk, Portia Vandegraft, stated this ordinance is to rescind Ordinance 2018-09, then a new Zoning Ordinance would go to the Zoning Board of Appeals and then would come back to you at the next Board Meeting.
Trustee Benjamin Thackeray asked Attorney Kate Carter why do we have to rescind an ordinance if it’s not even legal. Attorney Kate Carter said if you don’t rescind it, the ordinance is still not effective. Ordinance 2019-09, or another ordinance stating the same thing would still have to go back to the Zoning Board of Appeals with proper notice and a proper hearing, were they would make their recommendation and then submit it back to this Board of Trustees.
Trustee Benjamin Thackeray stated but again if we do that and it doesn’t change anything because we can’t enforce it on him.
Trustee Charles Morefield said I have a question, so say person A decides to go to court against person B, person B is in violation of this said ordinance, there is no case because this ordinance is not valid, correct? So, in a court a law, case is dismissed, nobody wins. Kate Carter said, hypothetically if the Village enforces Ordinance 2018-09, the person whom the ordinance is being enforced against can challenge it and the courts would say the ordinance is invalid.
Jim Beitz said what’s the plan then? Are you going to allow him to operate a business in a residential neighborhood? Trustee Vincent Beck stated who said we are getting rid of this ordinance?
Trustee David Rathke said we are rescinding it redo it and make it go though the proper channels. Village Resident Vickie Cole commented you’re going to redo it to make him legal.
Trustee David Rathke said it’s not doing any good right now because the ordinance is not valid. Village resident Brandy Hope states you do not have to rescind an ordinance that is not valid. Trustee David Rathke said that’s what the law said. Brandy stated no you do not. Brandy asked Kate if that was what she said, that they are legally obligated to rescind this ordinance that is invalid. Attorney Kate Carter said, I am not saying that the Village is mandated by any law to rescind 2018-09 tonight. What I am saying is that the ordinance is not effective, the village can not enforce it. The whole purpose of rescinding the ordinance is to start fresh. To rescind the ordinance, the Zoning Board of Appeals with proper notice and hearing would consider the same or similar ordinance. Brandy said what happens if they decide not to rescind it? Kate said the ordinance is still invalid. Brandy asked why the Board wasn’t given the opportunity tonight to vote to enact the ordinance? Kate Carter said because this ordinance has not gone to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Jim Beitz said another ordinance was missed. There is an ordinance that says in a residential neighborhood you have to have 20% lot rearage. He doesn’t have that.
Village resident Brandy Hope asked that the Board not vote on this now and come back in December with a rescind and replace, so that the people who have an interest in it can see what you plan on replacing it with and be able to speak to that before you rescind it.
Village resident Vickie Cole asked if you can stop the building until this is settled instead of letting him do what he pleases. Dan Mulcahey says I think we have to stop the building process. If that is not a legal ordinance and he has to have proper zoning for residential, Ritchie should be in his car and going up there and saying you don’t have a legal permit.
Police Chief Ritchie Cooper said that his recommendation to Larry at one point was to stop the construction. I was told no, because it was in the attorney’s hands.
Trustee Jason Wagoner asked if the Zoning Officer has the authority to stop the building process. Let’s just stop it until we can get this taken care of. Trustee Carol Stephenson said I agree. Police Chief Ritchie Cooper said we need to stop it until we can get this whole thing straightened out or we are going to continue to have meetings like this.
Mayor Larry Dodds said Kate we are looking to you for guidance. Kate Carter looked in the Zoning Code about revoking the permit. Attorney Kate Carter said that the enforcing officer can revoke a permit if it is found that he is violating the regulations. Mayor Larry Dodds asked Kate if we are saying he is violating the regulations, Kate said she doesn’t know, she is under the impression that he was in compliance.
Jim Beitz said his building is not located in the correct spot for residential zoning and he doesn’t think he is in the correct spot for commercial zoning either. His building is not in the correct spot per Jim Bietz. Jim Beitz mentions water runoff onto neighbors and Route 165 due to all of the gravel on the property.
Vickie Cole stated everyone knows Layne Getty lives in that little garage and it does not qualify for the 750 square feet and it is being rented to him. It is rental property and he is living in it and you guys have all known this and no one has stopped it.
Attorney Kate Carter states that revoking a building permit also creates problems for the recipient of the building permit. They have been issued a building permit and they are understanding that they are in proper zoning. Typically, the property would be rezoned commercial with appropriate restrictions placed on the property.
Village resident Brandy Hope asked if it would relieve the Village of liability of fault if there was falsified information on the permit such as misrepresenting the cost. Mayor Larry Dodds states he thinks we are now stating things we don’t know to be true. The Village received $175.00 for the permit and that is based on the cost of the building. The structure, that’s what he is stating cost $55,000.00.
Attorney Kate Carter stated she recommended rezoning of the property to business with stipulations. That would be in the best interest of both parties. There is a Zoning Board of Appeals meeting scheduled for November 30, 2020 at 6:00 p.m.
Trustee Benjamin Thackeray asked if we still need to rescind Ordinance 2018-09. Attorney Kate Carter said it should be rescinded tonight and there would be a new ordinance to consider at the Zoning Board of Appeals Public Hearing on November 30, 2020. Kate Carter states to make the process as clean as possible, it is suggested to rescind and start fresh.
Trustee Carol Stephenson made a motion to approve Ordinance No. 2020-14, rescinding Ordinance 2018-09, An Ordinance Amending the Home Occupation Provisions of the Village Zoning Regulations due to improper passage by the Village of Colfax Board of Trustees. Trustee Benjamin Thackeray seconded the motion. Vote: Charles Morefield-Aye, David Rathke-Aye, Benjamin Thackeray-Aye, Carol Stephenson-Aye, Jason Wagoner-Aye, Vincent Beck-Aye. Motion carried.
Public Comments-Items not on the agenda.
Greg Neuhaus would like to have Main Street and Center Street blocked off on April 10, 2021 for the Boy Scouts Annual Box Car Derby. Mayor Larry Dodds said we will put in on the agenda for approval next month.
Brandy Hope said she wants to go on record that she objects to the decision of the board regarding their passage of Ordinance 2020-14. Residents Vickie Cole and Dave Breen stated they objected as well.
Trustee Benjamin Thackeray made a motion to adjourn. Trustee Carol Stephenson seconded the motion. Vote: Charles Morefield-Aye, David Rathke-Aye, Benjamin Thackeray-Aye, Carol Stephenson-Aye, Jason Wagoner-Aye, Vincent Beck-Aye. Motion carried.
Meeting adjourned at 9:08 p.m.