Macomb, IL – Macomb aldermen have once again demonstrated that nothing comes easy in city government.
The confusion concerns the property at 339 North Clay Street. The house had been used as a rental property. Owner James Barnes asked for a special use permit to convert it into a business as part of the Adams Street Mixed Use Zoning District. The business will sell textbooks.
During their December 7 meeting, aldermen agreed to grant the special use permit - with three conditions attached:
1) Provide a stamped engineer's sign-off on the design of the second floor attesting that it is sufficient to bear the weight of the textbooks.
2) Provide a signed contractor's cost estimate on all planned improvements to the building and a copy of the purchase agreeement for the property stating the purchase price.
3) Construct an external staircase on the south (Adams Street) side of the building that will lead to a door on the second floor; this will establish actual access for pedestrians entering off of Adams.
However, about 10 minutes after the vote was taken, Second Ward Alderman Ed Lavin pointed out the city council removed the conditions during a meeting a couple weeks ago.
Aldermen then voted to rescind their motion from a few minutes earlier. After that, they voted 6-to-3 to approve the special use permit without the conditions attached.
The three who voted against the permit are Alderman At Large Dennis Moon, Fifth Ward Alderman Dave Dorsett, and Sixth Ward Alderman Tim Lobdell. Moon was especially vocal about his opposition. He said it's a public safety issue.
"I think it's poor judgment on the council's part not to ask for certification of the structural soundness of an over 50-year old building that has a complete change in its usage," said Moon.
But Lavin thinks the city council tried to put too much into the ordinance for the special use permit.
"We have staff that would have gone out there and looked at it, just as a building inspector looks at other buildings to see whether they're structurally sound," said Lavin. "I think we're micromanaging."
You can listen to the discussion by clicking on the audio button.