Deal signed with Wetlands Initiative for foot bridge access
HENNEPIN — While no action was taken during the Hennepin Village Board’s April 17 meeting about the village acquiring ownership of abandoned properties, village attorney Sheryl Churney continues to move forward with the lengthy procedure.
If the village does take ownership of its derelict properties, demolition costs could be substantial. However, both Churney and Austin Taylor, a community planner with the North Central Illinois Council of Governments, provided information about a grant to help offset those costs.
Taylor said the grants are funded through the Illinois Housing Development Authority. They fund the grants through foreclosure filing fees.
“These grants are popular with many communities, and they allow them to request up to $75,000, with no community match, to deal with derelict properties,” Taylor said.
To apply the funds to a property, it must be abandoned and a residential property with no more than six units. The cost of applying for the grant is about $2,000, and Taylor said the next round of grants will be awarded in the fall. The board tabled the issue until May, but indicated a preliminary acceptance of applying for the grant funds.
Wetlands Initiative pact
The board approved a 40-year licensing agreement with The Wetlands Initiative for the village’s planned footbridge over Coffee Creek and onto the 2.7-mile Marquis Oak Ridge trail, which leads into the rest of the nature refuge’s trail system.
After 40 years, the agreement can be extended by 10-year increments. The agreement can only be mutually terminated by both parties, and any change in ownership of the property would require the village’s approval.
Churney added there was some concern from the wetlands group about the effect bicyclists could have on the 3,000-acre site’s recovering ecosystems. Therefore, some trails will be marked as being accessible to bicycles while others will be only for hiking.
Relating to the bridge project, village engineer Ken Giordano told the board the boring company has been contacted to conduct the soil analysis for the company designing the footbridge.
The village will also be granting an easement in the area to allow Hennepin Marine access. Hennepin Marine donated land adjacent to the site that will allow access to the upcoming bridge.
“The village is very thankful for the gracious generosity Hennepin Marine has shown towards our community in helping to make this project possible,” Village President Kevin Coleman said.
The board awarded Justice Petersen an Adam and Ida Deck College Scholarship.
As recipient of the second-place award, she will receive a $1,000 annual award toward her pursuit of higher education.
First-place winner Madelyn Dzierzynski wasn’t present, but will receive a $1,200 annual award.
Giordano said he had toured the village with a representative of Advanced Asphalt and that they were in agreement about which areas along last year’s major street project needed to be re-seeded. Work is expected to begin within several weeks and some areas, mostly along the eastern end of High Street, will also have soil added to account for what’s been lost through erosion.
Engineer Bill Shafer will be present as the work is completed, and once seeding has taken place, residents will be asked to help keep those areas damp until the grass has adequately taken root.
Giordano will also be looking into the previously approved work to improve the steps down to the river.
New liquor licenses
The board voted to upgrade Hennepin Food Mart’s liquor license to allow alcohol to be consumed by those using the store’s new video gambling machines.
The state has approved the addition of the machines and will require that an employee who is 21 or older be present to supervise the area.
There are currently three other businesses in the village with licenses of the same class: Rolando’s, Spratt’s Tap and Vic’s Tap. The board also approved a blank, second license that will be kept aside in the event of another request. This was done to speed the process in that instance. Coleman said it was more efficient to do the paperwork for both licenses at the same time.
The village also has an ordinance allowing an annual charge for establishments with gambling machines. Coleman said the village hasn’t previously collected these charges from other businesses, so it wouldn’t be fair to charge Hennepin Food Mart at this time.
However, he added in the future the village would be changing this practice and businesses will be charged the fee in accordance with the existing ordinance.
Deputy Tim Pyszka presented the board with nine property ordinance violations. The violations mostly involved parking and abandoned vehicles, but one was for a home’s unfinished exterior.
Enterprise zone expansion
The board approved amending the Enterprise Zone ordinance to include an additional 18 acres to encompass expansions at the Van-Packer company in Buda and the Kasbeer Farmers Elevator Co-op in Kasbeer. These additions won’t have any effect on Putnam County finances since they are both located in Bureau County.
Taylor said there were about 1,800 acres left of the zone’s 15 square-mile maximum size.
Other board news
• The board discussed no longer decorating the large tree in Walter Durley Boyle Park and will be considering other options.
• The board also discussed the removal of stray cats. While not as bad as previous years, the cats’ numbers are increasing, community members have noticed. Board member Quentin Buffington reminded residents that cats kept as pets are not allowed to run loose outside.
• The board approved $1,200 for additional police protection during the village’s July 4 celebration.
• The board also approved a safe boating proclamation in recognition of Safe Boating Week, and Coast Guard Auxiliary member Jim Plunket was in attendance.
• Village garage sales are scheduled for April 26-27.