Sunday, January 31, 2010

Congress

Good column by Norman Ornstein in today's Washington Post about what the current Congress, despite being the least popular in decades, has manged to accomplish. Well worth a read.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Stotlar House Meeting

In case you're free this Monday morning:

The City of Carbondale's Certificate of Appropriateness Committee of the Preservation Commission will meet on Monday Febuary 1st, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. at City Hall/Civic Center on the second floor in Conference Room B to discuss suggestions and options for 507 W. Main st.

SIUE Enrollment Up

Wish I'd see a story like this about SIUC sometime.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Stotlar House

Checked with the planning department today about what happens with the Stotlar House after the March 1 moratorium ends. During the next month, the city is helping Home Rentals gather information about the feasibility of restoring the building or finding a buyer. After the moratorium expires, Home Rentals may sell, rehab or demolish the building.

Due to the zoning, however, they may only replace it with a commercial building, not another home or apartment building, unless the company applies for a special use permit. From the way I understand it, it appears that sitting within the Walnut Street Historic District has very little bearing on the design of the structure that goes in there.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Liquor Application Dates

Some more on the time frame surrounding the series of applications for Class C liquor licenses. Wal-mart's 2004 license application went up before the Liquor Advisory Board and Liquor Control Commission before being denied because there weren't any open licenses and even if there were, granting a license would violate city code because Wal-Mart sold gasoline.

On Jan. 15th, 2008 Wal-Mart submitted another application for a license. This application never went before the LAB or LCC. Instead Wal-Mart received a letter from the city dated Feb 11, 2008, informing the company that there were no Class C licneses available and that the application would be scheduled for review in the event that one became available.

Kroger turned in a similar application on May 1, 2008. Turnaround on this one was even quicker as the city sent out a similar letter to that received by Wal-mart, stating that a hearing would be scheduled in the event a license came available, but this one was dated May 1, 2008, the same date the application was received.

The application from Short Liquors was received by the city on Dec. 12, 2009. The Class C cap was raised on Jan 19 and the license approved the same night.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Stotlar House Update

Nothing new legalwise since the reprieve until March 1 but the earthmoving machine that was parked ominously in the front yard is gone. Guess the cost of leaving it sitting there for another month was more than Home Rentals wanted to pay.

Cole for Lt. Governor

Saw my first Cole for Lieutenant Governor sign this morning, on West Sycamore. Give it's only a week until the primary, I'm rather surprised I haven't seen more of them, given that Carbondale is his home base. I'm guessing the campagin figures his name is very well known here and has decided to allocate campaign funds to promoting in other regions of the state.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

$100,000 Scholarship Donation

This is pretty cool. Ken Brown entered SIUC in 1984 with a C average and a lifetime of poverty including 10 home evictions. With the aid of the Center for Academic Success and financial support from Penn Grants and guaranteed loans, he graduated from SIUC and entered a career in the food industry, where he's done well enough that he is now contributing $100,000 to scholarships for minority students at SIUC. Nice to hear stories like this, hope to hear more of them. If you want to hear more about his story, Brown will speak at SIUC at noon on Jan 26th.

University Payroll

It's not just SIUC. Universities all around the state are struggling to make payroll. Uof I is cutting and furloughing staff to make payroll, while SIUC is asking the legislature for the power to borrow money short term, until the $125 million the state owes SIUC comes through. Of course, given the current state of the state government, I'd not hold my breath expecting to see that $125 million quickly.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Liquor Cap Discussion

If you really don't have anything better to do this weekend, the discussion of raising the liquor caps makes for interesting listening, especially in regards to the various council member's views on business in Carbondale.

You can listen to it here.

Rent One Closed

Looks as if the Rent One on East Main closed sometime shortly after the holidays.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

License Requests

Before the Short Liquor request for a Class C liquor license, there have been 3 other official requests in the past five years. Wal-Mart has applied for a Class C license twice, once in 2004 and once in 2008. Kroger has applied for one once, in 2008. Wal-Mart's 2004 application went before the Liquor Advisory Board and the Liquor Control Commission and was turned down because 1) there were no Class C licenses available and 2) gasoline was sold on the property, apparently a no-no under the city code. Neither of the 2008 applications were forwarded to the LAB or Liquor Control Commission for consideration. Instead, letters were sent to both indicating that no licenses were available:

The letter from the city to Wal-Mart, dated Feb. 11, 2008, says "that there are currently no Class C liquor licenses available" and that the license application for Wal-Mart will be scheduled for review "if and when a Class C license becomes available". Ditto for the Kroger letter, dated May 1, 2008, with the additional note that the application appeared to come from Kroger Limited Partnership I and the Carbondale Liquor Code "requires that if a liquor license is to be held by a partnership, all partners must reside within the corporate limits of the City of Carbondale".

In addition, Schnuck's, Arnold's and the Neighborhood Food Co-Op have all expressed an interest in selling liquor but have never pursued the license, probably due to this part of the Carbondale City Code:

No class C license shall be issued to an applicant whose principal business in the premises described in the application is a retail sale of groceries or drugs, unless a permanent, opaque wall separates the area of sale of the groceries and drugs and the area of sales of packaged alcoholic liquor and unless each area has a separate entrance and separate checkout facility. The total number of class C licenses issued by the local liquor control commission will not exceed seven (7).

Essentially, any store selling groceries in Carbondale that wishes to sell alcohol as well must install an area separated from the rest of the store that is solely for liquor sales. Possibly viable for Wal-Mart, Kroger and Schnucks, not so much for Arnold's and the Co-Op.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

City Council Meeting

I didn't get to the city council meeting until after everything was done publicly and the council had moved into closed session. The public meeting ran much later than a typical meeting does, ending about 9:30, and apparently was very well attended, at least until the council approved the liquor cap expansion. After that passed, by a vote of 5 to 2 with Cole and Fritzler opposing, about three quarters of the audience left, probably to plan their own requests for cap expansions. From what I understand, in addition to Wal-mart and Schnuck's, Arnold's Market and the Neighborhood Food Co-op have applied for licenses in the past and been turned down because of the cap.

In addtiion, there were a coupld of rezoning issues delt with, one allowing a development in the southeast outskirts of town that may have problems because of lack of both drainage and road access (it sounds like there is only one road currently surving the area) and a rezoning of an area on the west side from agriculture to light residential to allow the construction of a porch.

Both the Southern and WSIL have writeups on the meeting.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Annexation

This is an interesting annexation proposal. Short Liquors is wanting to open up Blue Fish Liquor and Cigars on Sweets Drive, just off Reed's Station Road. However the owner of that area, according to the proposal, never petitioned the city to change the status of the property from "dry" (its status as part of Carbondale Township to "wet" (the city of Carbondale's status), when the city annexed it in 1999. The city council must officially change the status for Blue Fly to open there.

Liquor License Cap

It will be interesting to see if Short Liquors Inc, gets a Class C license to open their proposed store on Sweet's Drive, since it's my understanding that Wal-Mart has applied for license for some years and has never gotten one because of the cap on Class C licenses in town.

Update: Class C licenses are currently capped at 7. The City Council will vote on raising the cap to 8 at the Jan. 19th meeting. Again, be interesting in seeing if Short Liquors gets the cap raised when Wal-Mart has been unable to do so.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Liquor Control commission

The C'dale Liquor control Commission meets next Tuesday, just before the city council meeting. Only thing currently on the agenda is an application for a Class C license for Short Liquors Inc., dba Blue Fish Liquor and Cigars at 2355 Sweets Drive #A. Glad to see yet another liquor store coming to town.

SIUC Greenhouse

It's not all bad news. PotashCorp is donating $250,000 to SIUC to aid in replacing the universities 50 year old greenhouse facility. 'course, that means the university still has to come up with about $4.25 million more to actually build the facility.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Stotlar House Update

The C'dale Preservation Commission voted 6 to 1 last night to deny approval for Home Rentals' application to demolish the Stotlar House on West Walnut, with local landlord Ed Van Awken the only vote in favor of approval, saying he still needed more answers to questions. I'm not sure, why, if he needed more answers, he voted to go ahead with the demolition in lieu of them.

The meeting ran about 2 hours long and was much better attended than the typical Preservation Committee meeting, with Arbor District members in attendance, as well as representatives from the Murphrysboro Preservation Commission as well as a larger than ususal number of city staff and representatives from several news organizations. One commission member termed the meeting "a zoo".

There's now a moratorium on further demolition of the house until March 1. The next step for Home Rentals will probably be to appeal the commission's decision to the city council.

Update: WSIL has some more on the story.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Preservation Commission Meeting

Tonight at the Civic Center. Supposedly the Stotlar House demolition request is on the agenda:

City of Carbondale Preservation Commission
Monday, January 11, 2010
7:00 p.m.
Room 103
City Hall / Civic Center
200 South Illinois Avenue
Carbondale, Illinois

AGENDA

Event Date and Time:
Jan 11 2010 7:00pm

Luechtefeld and Bost Endorse Cole

The Illinois Review website has a release from the Cole campaign announcing that both Sen. Luechtefeld and Rep. Bost endorse Cole for Lt. Gov. Bost switched his endorsement to Cole without much fanfare last year but Luechtefeld remained uncommitted when I spoke to him last fall.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Headline

Interesting phrasing for the above the fold story in this week's edition of the Carbondale Times: "Cole, Whitney Fight Campaign Finance Stigma." (Sorry, you'll have to pick up a copy to read it as the Times is still available only in print) When I first spotted the headline, I thought the Times had found some problems with the campaign financing for the Cole and Whitney campaigns for lieutenant governor and governor, repsectively.

Nope, turns out the article is a look at how each candidate is treating campaign financing and contributions: Whitney refusing contributions from corporations and Cole positing contributors and amounts on his campaign website. Glad I was wrong but the headline was certianly an eyecatcher.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Child Abduction

Here's the info available on the child abduction that took place yesterday:

The Carbondale Police Department is investigating a report of a child abduction that occurred in the area of North Wall and East Willow Street at approximately 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 5, 2010. The victim reported being approached by the suspect and forced into a vehicle. The suspect drove the victim to an area northwest of Murphysboro, where the victim escaped and fled to safety. The vehicle was last seen driving west on the Ava Blacktop at approximately 12:30 p.m.

The suspect is only described as a male who was driving a green, mud covered, newer model Chevrolet Suburban with oversize rims.

There were no injuries reported as a result of this incident.

Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact the police department at 457-3200 or Crime Stoppers at 549-COPS (2677). Anonymous tips may also be made by selecting the Crime Stoppers tab from the main page of this web site.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cole Donations

Mayor Cole has a updated list of those who've donated to his Lt. Gov. campaign and amounts on his Team Brad website. From what I can tell, the two largest cumulative amounts come from Judy Baine of Carbondale, with $15,000 and Harry Crisp of Marion, also with $15,000.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Not Good for Gov. Quinn

The secret early prison release program will be a major problem for Gov. Quinn as he seeks re-election as the fact that 56 of those paroled early under the program are now back behind bars is made to order for opposition campaign commercials. It's a small percentage, 56 out of 1718 released, but Willie Horton was only one man. From the AP story:

Of the 1,718 released early under MGT Push, Quinn contended that 56 had been returned to prison, eight for new crimes: Six for retail theft or drug offenses, one for a drunken driving and one for domestic assault.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Subway Moves

The Subway that has been at 1300 West Main for over a decade has moved across the street to the old Hardee's that has sent empty since the franchise pulled out of C'dale some years ago. Most customers at Subway tend to grab their sandwich and go, reducing the opportunity for the store to make additional sales. To counteract that, this location has added free WiFi and a HDTV, which they hope keeps customers around to order an additional drink or sandwich. Since the new bubilding is set up for drive-through, Subway will now offer that option as well, unlike is previous location or the east side Subway.

From the city's point of view, this is a good thing, since a larger location means more sales, ergo more sales tax collected, unless the franchise worked a deal to get a rebate on sales taxes collected to cover the costs of the remodel.

Friday, January 1, 2010

More on Stotlar House

Apparently the proposed demolition of the Stotlar Home has come up on the agenda pretty quickly as Preservation Commission member De Itner says there was no discussion of it during the Commission's fall meetings ( from an email forwarded courtesy of D. Gorton):

I do not recall hearing about this demolition plan at any of our fall Commission meetings. We do not have a Dec. meeting annually, so it would seem that the commissioners as a whole were not advised of this action at all.

Fruthermore, courtesy of the same email, this time with research into the city codes from Jane Adams, demolition of a builidng in a C'dale historic district may not proceed unles a) the Preservation Commission provides a certificate of appropriateness or b) the city council approves it.

4.1.11. 4. If, upon examination of the application and records of the city, the building and neighborhood services manager or his designee determines that the building or structure proposed to be demolished has been: a) designated by the city council as being in a landmark district, in a historic district, or in a neighborhood preservation district pursuant to title 15, chapter 2, article D of this code, or b) nominated for designation as such a district and subject to the provisions of subsection 15-2D-1D4 of this code, the building and neighborhood services manager or designee shall not issue the demolition permit until a certificate of appropriateness or certificate of economic hardship provided for at subsection 15-2D-1F of this code has been issued or the city council waives the requirement pursuant to subsection 15-2D-1D4 or 15-2D-1F1 of this code.


Since the city council doesn't meet again until Jan 19, a special meeting of the Preservation Commission is apparently the quickest way for Home Rentals to get the demolition approved. Apparently someone doesn't want to wait until the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Commission on Jan 11.

Earmarks

Was poking around Jerry Costello's website and found this list of appropriations requests/earmarks that he's received from various constituents. There's one from Brhem Prep. School to help create a database for tracking learning disabilities, several from SIUC to keep funding various programs and build a transmitter tower, one from the Paul Simon Center to complete a federal funding appropriation, two fromJackson County to renovate the courthouse and sheriff's office and two from Carbondale proper. The Oak Street Extension has been submitted for approval, the Sycamore extention, not yet:

* Carbondale (#1) – Oak St. Extension

City of Carbondale
P.O. Box 2047
200 South Illinois Avenue
Carbondale, IL 62902
$2,700,000 The Oak Street Extension will be a one-half mile improvement from Wall Street to Lewis Lane. The extension will provide a direct connection of the Northeast Carbondale neighborhood, a primary minority neighborhood, with the regional commercial center on the east side of Carbondale. It will also facilitate the development of in-fill housing opportunities in the neighborhood.
Carbondale (#2) – Sycamore St. Extension $1,920,000 Extend Sycamore to New Era Road parallel to IL Rt. 13