Council tables resolution for redevelopment study

By Sabryna Cornish

A redevelopment plan for downtown DeKalb will have to wait at least two more weeks.

The DeKalb City Council voted unanimously at its March 9 meeting to table a resolution which would have released $60,000 for a study to come up with a redevelopment plan.

Some of the aldermen were leery to release the money because of the lack of participation of businesses in the plan.

“We need to get at least two-thirds of the (business) area knowledgeable about what (the redevelopers) are going to do,” said 4th Ward Alderman Rita Tewksbury.

Third Ward Alderman Gary Wiggins said he thought “a contract should be activated only with two-thirds participation of downtown merchants, tenants and building owners.

“We’re looking for openness, willingness, interest—$60,000 is a lot of money,” he said. “We’re willing to spend the money if (the businesses) are willing to be active.”

The business district which consists of First to Seventh to Locust streets would be the main part of the redevelopment plan.

“We want people to participate in the plan,” said 2nd Ward Alderman Michael Welsh. “I think there are a lot of people downtown who want to see it better.”

In other business, the council voted 6-1 to allow a proposed DeKalb Super 8 Motel put up a 60-foot sign.

The new ordinance will allow certain businesses close to the tollway to go beyond the height maximum.

The city allows signs up to 30 feet. The motel, however, needs a sign that is 60 feet so that it can be seen easily from the I-88 tollway, said Al Hill, representative from the Super 8 Motel.

Hill said there is no alternative because the tollway authority will not allow signs announcing the motel on the tollway.

The 60-foot sign will add 17 percent more occupants than without the sign, said Mark Biernacki, planning director.

“That 17 percent represents all our profit,” Hill said.

The city did a simulated experiment with a 60-foot sign and said a 30-foot sign would not be visible by the First Street overpass on I-88. The overpass, however, is crucial because people must get off on the next exit or they will miss DeKalb, Biernacki said.

First Ward Alderman Amy Polzin said the city should restrict signs according to the area and only have so many signs per land area.

“I see no reason why this should be turned down because it’s right on the tollway,” Tewksbury said. “In the case of the business, I think it’s very necessary.”

Fifth Ward Alderman Bessie Chronopoulos, who voted against changing the ordinance to allow the sign, did not agree. “I think we’re better off saying no,” she said. “It’s going to look horrible.”

Sixth Ward Alderman Jamie Pennington said the sign “would be okay if the post is black or white or earth tones.”