Rezoning request still on agenda, but Rantoul, township oppose plan

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A car sits next to an apartment building at Cherry Orchard, an apartment complex south of Rantoul.

By Dave Hinton/Rantoul Press Editor

A petition to rezone a closed apartment complex between Thomasboro and Rantoul remains on the agenda of the Champaign County Zoning Board of Appeals.

John Hall, Champaign County director of planning and zoning, said a petition to rezone what is known as the Jones building and surrounding property, located directly east of the Cherry Orchard apartment complex, is an agenda item for the Thursday, Jan. 31, meeting. The building sits on a 1.5-acre tract.

Rick Stone, owner of K&S Property Management, Champaign, which owns the Jones building, has petitioned for the property to be rezoned from A-1 (agriculture) to R-4 (multi-family).

The Jones building is not part of the Cherry Orchard complex, whose caretakers were Bernard and Eduardo Ramos, but the Ramoses had been buying the Jones building on contract and had defaulted.

Cherry Orchard is located along U.S. 45 between Rantoul and Thomasboro. Both Cherry Orchard apartments and the Jones building shared the same septic system, which Champaign-Urbana Public Health officials cited as inadequate and a health hazard.

Hall said the Jones building had been grandfathered in and allowed for use as a multi-tenant dwelling after the county zoning laws were changed several years ago. But because the building had been vacant for six months (it was closed in July 2011), its zoning exemption lapsed and it reverted to agricultural.

Hall said the rezoning issue has been on the Zoning Board of Appeals agenda before but has not progressed because Stone has not provided needed information.

“We always contact him ahead of time and suggest what information the ZBA would like to have,” Hall said. “Frankly, (Stone) has been rather dismayed by responses” from the village of Rantoul and Rantoul Township.

The village and township have both filed petitions of protest to Stone’s rezoning request. Hall said earlier that the first step in seeking the rezoning was to approach the nearest community, which in this case is Rantoul.

The village of Rantoul objected to the rezoning in part because the property lies within the village’s commercial plan area, which lists the area as general commercial. The commercial plan area extends a mile and a half outside village limits for planning purposes and future development.

While the village has no zoning authority on the matter, it does have subdivision authority, which the county takes into consideration involving such requests, Ken Beth, village attorney, said last year. Because the village filed an objection, any change in zoning has to be adopted by a three-fourths majority vote as opposed to a majority vote by the county board, Beth said.

On Jan. 11, Hall said, Stone told his office that no progress had been made on the issue, and on Jan. 15, “We told him that due to lack of progress, the ZBA might dismiss the case.”

He said the matter has been on the zoning board agenda at least twice before with no progress made. He said it will be up to the board whether to take it off the agenda.

Hall said Stone told him he was trying to sell the property.

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