Gibson City planning commission approves three action items

GIBSON CITY — Gibson City’s planning commission approved three action items during their meeting Monday night in the dining room of the Villas of Holly Brook.

Chairman Mary Timm first recognized visitor Steve Kelly, general manager of the One Earth Energy ethanol plant located at the north end of the Jordan Industrial Park on the city’s west side.

Kelly was present to seek annexation into city limits of a 103-acre parcel that One Earth Energy purchased about two years ago. Troy Rieger of rural Forrest was the parcel’s previous owner.

One Earth Energy had previously purchased about 40 acres from what was originally a 240-acre parcel and made it the site for the ethanol plant. The 103-acre parcel also comes from that same larger acreage.

The 103-acre parcel is directly north of the plant’s current site, which is located within the city limits. Thus, the parcel’s location means it is contiguous to the city limits along its southern boundary, making the property eligible for annexation. Kelly said the property’s northern boundary is 19th Street.

Kelly responded to Timm’s question about One Earth Energy’s reason for wanting the annexation by saying there is “nothing concrete” to discuss at this time.

Kelly said that One Earth Energy pursued the annexation because “we want to be prepared.” Kelly said that if an opportunity presents itself, the firm wants to be able to “move forward quickly” on it.

Commission members voted unanimously to recommend that the annexation be approved by the council, and that the council also approve rezoning the parcel from its current agriculture use to M-2 (manufacturing).

Revisions for alternative energy site zoning
Another purpose of the meeting was a public hearing on the commission’s proposed changes to the city’s zoning ordinances for residential and commercial property owners within city limits who wish to install wind or solar power-producing equipment.

According to Mayor Dan Dickey, the current residential and commercial zoning ordinances contain no provisions for placing alternative energy sites within the city limits. Any such installation currently would be treated as a structure, and placement would be governed by related zoning setbacks or other restrictions.

Planning commission members had studied the revised ordinance proposal since their January meeting. In the interim, minor changes to the proposal’s wording were recommended, as presented by Commissioner Chase McCall.

After a brief discussion, including a clarification from City Attorney Marc Miller, commissioners voted unanimously to move their revisions forward for consideration by the city council.

Timm said the revisions are important for the city’s future, and she thanked commissioners for their efforts on the subject.

Miller said that before it takes action, the city council is required to schedule another public hearing on the zoning revisions.

Seven commissiones were present Monday night.


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