Planning Commission: Lots Going On

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Hillsboro Planning Commission Chairman Tom Gooding welcomed commissioners Mike Ryan, Mark Osborn, Dave Booher, Don Karban, and Michelle Ondrey to their monthly meeting on Thursday afternoon, Jan. 16. Also present were Natural Resources Committee member Kendra Wright, Mayor Brian Sullivan, city planner Jonathan Weyer, and City Clerk Cory Davidson, and Public Properties Superintendent Jim May.

Karban provided both the Imagine Hillsboro update and words about the HUD housing grant. The Imagine Hillsboro events committee is planning the annual Father-Daughter Dance and the corresponding Mother-Son bowling outing. The mystery theater event planned for the Abbey on Broad Street facility is already sold out. May and Wright added that the local CARE (Community Autism Resource Education) group made the first silver level donation ($10,000) to the Central Park project to recognize its all-inclusive nature.

In Housing and Urban Development news, Karban said the initial grant Hillsboro received for rehabbing residences in a selected area is about to be utilized. Four or five houses, according to administrator Tim Dunham, will soon be under repair with another four or five houses to be added later. The estimate to be spent on each house is $40,000; the grant total was for $370,000. The HUD grant cycle begins again in August, but Dunham said there is another grant possibility that Hillsboro can apply for. That planning can begin in February.

Mayor Sullivan told those assembled of a new restaurant, Hometown Farmacy, which will open within the next two months on the east side of the square.

The Orpheum Theater owners/managers have purchased the burned-out building (once Lyerla's, then Harts grocery store and more recently the home of Son Clayton's martial arts studio) adjacent to theirs with plans to convert it into an entertainment center with another movie screen and a stage suitable for live performances.

The mayor also announced that the city council has agreed to purchase the Eagle Zinc site for $20,000 once the EPA has completed its work there. The EPA will plant erosion-preventing grasses on the pile of dirt covering the contaminated material; that work should be done in April or May of this year. In a related matter the mayor said he'd met with Senator Andy Manar and Illinois officials from the Department of Commerce and Economic Development regarding recruitment of a business to utilize the Superfund site in order to mitigate a portion of the economic loss caused by the power plant's closing.

Wright said the NRC had reviewed fees charged by the city for recreation on city property, and the council had approved recommended changes. The biggest change was an addition; an area will be created on ground between the lakes where boat trailers can be stored. Beginning this fall the trailers can't just be left on the South Marina parking lot to overwinter.

In response to a question about the Corner Block (Sherman's) Building, Davidson and the mayor said the case is in court. The current owner didn't show for the first court date, so the case was continued until February.

Weyer continues to work on the city's strategic plan; he hopes to have the goals' section and the economic development section finished by the end of January. He and the mayor met with community development committee members to discuss becoming a 501C group; that would allow them to receive bequests from donors.

Weyer also reported a local person (Ryan Turner) has agreed to lease the South Marina Restaurant; he said Turner may also open his own business as well.

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