DANVILLE – When the special-use permit for Aqua Illinois’ solar energy project returns to the Danville City Council on June 18 for another vote, a super majority vote isn’t needed to reject the permit.
City officials were incorrect and confused by the council’s 5-7 vote last month in favor of the permit.
That night, Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. and Corporation Counsel David Wesner, said the council would need a super majority or two-thirds vote to reject the permit since the Danville Area Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approving it with a 4-1 vote.
The vote, however, also didn’t have a majority of aldermen to pass, which was why it failed.
According to city ordinance, a super majority vote of the council, 10 of the 14 aldermen with a full council, is needed only to approve a permit or another zoning petition to overturn the zoning commission’s denial and vote against it.
The council has one vacancy, with Williams not yet appointing someone to fill his Ward 1 seat that became vacant when he became mayor. Wesner on May 21 incorrectly said nine ‘no’ votes were needed to reject the permit.
Aldermen asked for clarifications going into the June 18 meeting, when the council is now expected to vote again on the solar project, regarding majority votes of the aldermen present and when Williams would vote, such as in the case of a tie.
Ward 7 Alderman Steve Foster, who voted against the solar project permit last month, requested at Tuesday night’s city council meeting that the permit come back for another vote.
Williams said an alderman who voted against the permit can request it be brought back to the next city council meeting for reconsideration.
Ward 4 Alderwoman Sharon McMahon also said if Foster hadn’t requested it be brought back, she would have.
“I had a completely different picture in my mind that night than what is actually going to be going on there,” she said, versus what neighbors talked about.
“I got a completely different picture of what the project is going to be, where the project is going to be and how it’s going to affect the neighbors,” she said.
McMahon said she’s had the chance to walk the Aqua property and see how the proposed project wouldn’t affect neighbors as much as she initially thought.
“The picture presented by the residents was a completely different picture than what I saw out there,” she said.
In other business at Tuesday’s city council meeting, aldermen heard from Vermilion Advantage President and CEO Vicki Haugen about economic development activity.
Haugen said they have 18 active projects, with six being office/professional, four manufacturing, two commercial, five retail and one agriculture related.
Nine of those potential projects are looking at existing buildings, with eight being possible new construction and one is a service project, she said.
She also talked about working with local businesses regarding professional recruiting, working in the schools with workforce development, the youth and adult job boards and economic outlooks by 30 major employers.
Those employers who respond to a survey are expecting steady to rapid growth and 87 percent project hiring in the second to third quarters.
Haugen said just trying to stay staffed is a challenge for some businesses.
The council also heard from Lisa Hunt, a plumber with RH Positive Enterprises, who suggested the city needs to inspect rental properties. She’s been seeing plumbing work being done without proper permits and not by licensed individuals.
Williams said if someone is sneaking around and doing something, the city doesn’t know about it unless someone speaks up to the city inspectors. He said they are in the process of following up on the issue Hunt brought up.
In other reports, Public Works Director Carl Carpenter told the council the city has continued to pick up storm debris. If anyone still needs debris picked up, they can call the public works department.
Carpenter also updated the council on the toters only and bi-weekly yard waste starting, and the streets department is working on the seal coat list.
He said answering public questions about the shared-use path that dead ends on Voorhees Street, it’s because a handicapped-accessible ramp will be constructed there.
Carpenter said the city recently also has secured four warrants to clean up properties.
This week the city was going to execute at least one on Gilbert Street. He said the property needs to be boarded up and secured. Illegal activity has been going on there.
The city council also approved a lease extension for Vermilion Advantage at city hall, an employee assistance program and intergovernmental agreement with Alvin for the village to use the city’s day court for code violations.