Council to consider approval of plat for third phase of Railside Subdivision

GIBSON CITY — Gibson City Planning Commission members met this week to review the plat for the third phase of the Railside Subdivision, adjacent to Railside Golf Course on the city’s north edge..

However, despite a special city council meeting that followed the commission meeting, final action was delayed until next Monday’s council meeting.

City Attorney Marc Miller said taking more time to review the agreements that will go along with the plat is prudent since the documents were not finalized until just before the meeting and some slight adjustments may be necessary.

“Bluntly, your approval is our leverage to make all of this happen,” Miller said.

The third phase of the Railside Subdivision contains 12 lots on a cul-de-sac that are expected to be developed as zero-lot-line condominiums. The previous two phases of the subdivision are for single-family homes.

One single lot to the east side of the plat, now known as lot 324, is nearly nine acres. It is expected to be sold by Railside Farms LLC, which is related to the Bloomington-based Brady family’s real estate interests.

The entire area is either located behind Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Middle School or three single-family homes on West Meadow Rue Drive in the adjacent subdivision, Prairie View, which is a completed development by the Hager family of Gibson City.

The buyer for the large lot is expected to be Phillips Warner Realty, which has built seven assisted-living facilities in Illinois. Partners Reggie Phillips of Charleston and Joe Warner of Rantoul have previously announced plans to build a 50-unit assisted-living facility in Gibson City.

City Engineer Joe Pisula of Donahue & Associates of Champaign told commission members that he approved of the plat prepared by MSA Professional Services of Champaign, engineers for the current land owner, Railside Farms.

Pisula said easements for public utilities were designed into the plat and made large enough to take care of future development to the north and east.  Pisula also said it is the legal obligation of the landowner to locate existing utilities in the area.

Commission member Mike Bleich asked about location and timing of creating retention ponds for drainage.

Phillips said he will construct the retention pond as he builds up the site for the assisted living facility. When completed, the pond will become city-maintained property.

Miller said that when the council approves the plat, Phillips Warner can begin construction on the assisted living facility without providing a more detailed plat at this time.

The development partnership previously supplied a preliminary plat indicating a layout that might eventually contain a memory-care facility and independent living duplexes. A final plat would not be necessary until their next phase of construction would begin.

Commission members voted unanimously to approve the plat as presented.

Attorney Tom Jacob of Bloomington, who advises the city on tax-increment financing (TIF) matters, said Phillips Warner works “very, very quickly” once they make a decision to build an assisted-living facility.

The partnership’s most recent facility opened last month in Monticello.

However, Jacob said the process of buying the ground and securing a TIF extension has taken nearly five months of hard work.

Jacob said ownership of the property by various Brady entities meant that proper assignment of the land and related responsibilities was complicated. Jacob said another Brady-related entity, known as OB LLC, was also involved.

“This is the most complicated project I have ever worked on in 25 years because it has so many moving parts,” he said.

He credited Miller, Mayor Daniel Dickey, and the council for their efforts to accomplish the project.

Phillips also said he did not realize the complications when he began trying to secure the property and expressed appreciation for the council’s cooperation.

“I wouldn’t be here still without efforts of the council,” he said. “It’s been an uphill stroke.”

At its regular meeting on Monday, the council will consider approving the plat of Railside’s third phase, along with three agreements — a development agreement between the two developers and the city, an amendment to the redevelopment agreement with Railside Farms, and a sub-development agreement between the city, Ford County and Phillips Warner Realty.

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