The Carbondale Observer

News and commentary about Carbondale, Illinois and SIUC

City Council Meeting 04/16/2013

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I did listen to most of Tuesday’s city council meeting. The council approved an annual budget, which is one of the most consequential things council does all year, and yet the meeting was surprisingly civil. Most of the votes were unanimous and there was none of the bickering that has dominated some recent council meetings. Since almost every vote was unanimous, and since there is a liveblog at the Carbondaze Gazette where you can read the play-by-play, I’ll just mention a couple of items that stood out.

First, retiring council members Chris Wissmann and Corene McDaniel are both possibly going to have streets renamed for them. My understanding is that these will be honorary renamings, and the streets will officially retain their current names. Hospital Street (between University and Illinois Avenues) will become Chris Wissmann Way, and East Jackson Street east of Wall Street will become Corene McDaniel Court. These honorary renamings are subject to council approval. I don’t have strong feelings either way about this, but it is the first time in my memory that retiring council members have been so honored. As far as I am aware, there is no Steven Haynes Avenue or Mary Pohlmann Boulevard.

Second, during discussion of the Park District’s fair days request for the annual Sunset Concerts, Mayor Joel Fritzler asked why there are never fair days requests for the concerts held on the SIUC campus. The city attorney replied that SIUC was granted some leeway as part of the agreement allowing the university to be annexed into the city. Council member Don Monty pointed out that SIUC is part of the State of Illinois and, since the state is a higher unit of government, is not subject to regulation by the city. The mayor argued that SIUC should not be above the law and asked the city attorney to investigate the issue. My suspicion is that Monty is correct, but we will see.

The final and most important thing I wanted to note is that the planned revision of the city’s subdivision ordinance is now going to be handled mostly in-house. The original plan was to hire the same consultant who worked on the recent rewrite of our zoning ordinance to help rewrite the subdivision ordinance. Now the plan is for city staff to rewrite the subdivision ordinance themselves and possibly hire a consultant at the end to help tighten up the new ordinance.

This is extremely important. Along with the zoning ordinance, the subdivision ordinance controls the form of the city. There are a lot of changes that should be made to the existing ordinance, but for now I’ll point to just two. First, the current ordinance requires a minimum block length of 800 feet and a maximum of 1200 feet. This is too large. We should be looking at something in the neighborhood of 650 feet as a maximum block length, with something around 500 feet being preferred. Second, the existing subdivision ordinance features what I consider unreasonable limitations for on-street parking. We should be trying to encourage on-street parking rather than discourage it.

Comments are welcome.

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