August 10, 2012

Village opposed to rezoning Jones building

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By Matt Daniels/Rantoul Press assistant editor/ The village of Rantoul is likely to protest a request for a zoning change on a piece of property close to the vacant Cherry Orchard complex along U.S. 45.

The issue of what to do with the property, known as the Jones building, came up at the Aug. 7 Rantoul village board study session.

Village Inspector Dan Culkin said he received a letter from the Champaign County Department of Planning and Zoning for the property to switch from agricultural to a multi-family property.

The Jones building is technically not a part of Cherry Orchard — which has sat vacant since last summer when county healthy officials required tenants, most of which were migrant workers, to vacate the premises because of the condition of the septic system — but is connected to the same septic system that Cherry Orchard uses.

The Jones building used to be zoned multi-family, but was switched to agricultural last spring after it sat unoccupied for more than six months.

“Looking at our comprehensive plan, our comprehensive plan shows that corner of that area to be general commercial,” Culkin said. “I’m looking for some guidance from the (board) on how we want to proceed with this because we do have a conflict with this zoning request change.”

Rantoul’s comprehensive plan includes a mile and a half outside village limits for planning purposes and future development.
Culkin said Rick Stone of K&S Co., sold the property to Bernard and Eduardo Ramos on contract, but now Stone wants to take the property back.

Trustee Herm Fogal asked if Stone would tear down the building, and Culkin said he would not and wanted to rezone it for multi-family use.

Village Attorney Ken Beth said the village doesn’t have any zoning authority on this particular matter.

“It’s only subdivision authority, but because it’s within our subdivision authority, the county board submits to us these requests for zoning classifications,” Beth said. “If we file an objection with the county, then any change in zoning has to be adopted by a three-fourths vote as opposed to a majority (vote by the county board). The question before (the village board) is whether you want to protest this proposed requested change in zoning.”

Mayor Neal Williams made it clear he is not in favor of the proposed zoning change.

“I can’t see why we would want to enter into anything unless we can see the direct benefits to this community, and I haven’t heard of one yet,” Williams said. “I don’t think any changes should be made, with me being just one person. We’ve had to deal with that (property) for a long time now, and we haven’t seen a whole lot of movement. Until something happens, I say no.”

Fogal asked what Champaign County intended to do with Cherry Orchard.

“They haven’t done a thing,” he said. “They haven’t cut the grass even.”

Culkin said he hasn’t had any discussions with the county about that matter.
Williams asked Culkin if it would better suit Rantoul for the property to go back to agricultural.

“The request to zoning is to make it comply with their county code,” Culkin said. “To leave it agricultural, I don’t know … if they’d have to apply for special use or what their next step would be.”