Gibson City aldermen start using iPads

GIBSON CITY — Gibson City Council members used new wireless tablets to review zoning rules during Monday night’s council meeting before deciding that the local school district does not need a zoning variance to turn a former residential lot into a parking lot.

The council had approved spending up to $6,000 to purchase iPads at its Jan. 14 meeting. The move is expected to help the city to “go green” by reducing paper and mailings. The devices also provide convenient access to maps and documents such as zoning laws.

Constituents can now also reach council members via a city email address. Each member’s email consists of (their own first name.last name)@gibsoncityillnois.com.

Mayor Daniel Dickey and Alderman Scott Davis provided training on the device for 30 minutes prior to Monday night’s meeting. “There’s going to be some glitches,” Dickey said, “but we’ll work through them.”

GCMS parking lot question
Superintendent Randy Stauffer first led council members through a review of zoning ordinances for residential areas and parking lots on the new wireless tablets.

The lot in question is owned by the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley school district at the corner of Sangamon Avenue and 16th Street. The house on the property was recently torn down by the district.

Stauffer said open parking areas are allowed within the yard area of R-1-zoned residential areas. He emphasized that the district owns the property and it is adjacent to the school’s main parking lot.

After the review, council members agreed that no action was necessary on their part because no variance is needed for the school to proceed.

The district must eventually put a hard surface on the lot, but gravel will be allowed for up to one year from when a building permit is obtained. The permit is required before the district installs a mandatory fence on the lot’s north side to shield the neighboring property.

Stauffer said at the time the building permit is requested the district must also submit a plan for the parking layout to ensure proper distances are maintained.

Firing range training
Police Chief Steve Cushman announced that a committee will meet next week to set up this year’s calendar for the police firing range. The range is open to the public for training and competitions.

Besides the regular classes, Cushman said that groups are welcome to schedule training. “All you have to do is show us interest,” he said.

To ask about training, citizens should contact the police department at 784-8666 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or email the chief’s administrative assistant Lisa Helgeson at lhelgeson@gcpd.net.

Other business
In other business:

— Patrick Doggett addressed council members on behalf of U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican representing the 16th Congressional District. Doggett pledged that Kinzinger and his staff will be available to assist the council wherever possible.

— Council members agreed to consider hosting the March meeting of the Central Illinois Municipal Officials Association (CIMOA). The question will be placed on the Feb. 11 council meeting agenda, after checking the date and other details with CIMOA officials.

— Members gave unofficial approval to purchase a new scanner for City Hall. The current combination printer/scanner is considered outdated to efficiently process scans required for council members to access data electronically. The purchase is expected to cost about $500 and will be formally considered at the council’s Feb. 11 meeting.

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