Members of the Litchfield City Council welcomed the newest member of the Litchfield Police Department to start their meeting on Thursday, April 1, as Devon Schoen was sworn in by City Clerk Carol Burke.
Originally from Gillespie, Schoen has been an officer for the Gillespie Police Department for the last two years. He and his fiance, Kristin Bertolis, who assisted Burke in the swearing in, already live in Litchfield and Schoen said he is looking forward to serving his new community.
In addition to the swearing in, the council also heard from Michael Bates, who addressed the council about the ordinance prohibiting portable buildings on vacant lots.
Bates said that he purchased three vacant lots across from his property ten years ago, with the intention of putting a shed on the property to store some items. He said he spoke to the building inspector, paid a $125 fee and went before the zoning board, which originally told him they would vote in his favor, but rejected his application during the meeting itself.
Bates said that he was not sure why property owners were not able to put a portable building on their own lots and was told that only the council would be able to change the ordinance.
Mayor Steve Dougherty said that this matter had been brought up before and the city would discuss the ordinance and possibly act on it at a future meeting.
Bates, clarifying that he meant no disrespect, asked if it would take another decade to get the answer. Mayor Dougherty said it wouldn’t take a decade, but it might not yield the answer that Bates hoped for.
The action items on Thursday’s agenda largely passed without discussion. The council approved the minutes from the March 18 meeting, directed the city clerk to transfer funds and pay bills and approved the budget for the fiscal year beginning on May 1, 2021 and running through April 30, 2022. There was a hearing for the budget prior to the regular meeting, with no comments from the public or council.
Other items to pass were the purchase of dedicated internet services at both fire stations from Consolidated Communications at a cost not to exceed $300 a month for 36 months, approval of a contract with Foster and Foster Actuaries to prepare actuarial reports for the police and firefighter pension funds at a cost not to exceed $3,375, to renew an ordinance approving Jereme Zook as the city’s budget officer, approval of pay request three to Gelly Excavating and Construction for work on the South Side Ditch project for $153,622.80 and to award bids for water treatment chemicals.
Also approved was a motion to start the condemnation and demolition process on five vacant residential structures at 1125 N. Walnut, 607 E. Columbia, 619 N. Madison, 821 N. Van Buren and 213 N. Lincoln.
Alderman Mark Brown asked if the city workers who demolished the buildings removed copper and other salvageable materials during the demolition. City Attorney Kit Hantla said that he did not believe they did that, but probably could. Hantla did say that many times the properties in question have already been stripped of those types of material.
Building official Gary Baker said that he wasn’t sure if the amount obtained from the salvaging efforts would be worth the time spent and that it could be an injury risk for employees.
The council entered closed session at 6:47 p.m. for the purpose of setting a price for sale or lease for a property owned by the public body.