City council: Intermodal-related items approved

At its meeting Monday, the Rochelle City Council unanimously approved four items related to an expansion of its transload center and starting intermodal services through city-owned railroad.

Willis Avenue rezoning approved for townhome project

ROCHELLE — At its meeting Monday, the Rochelle City Council unanimously approved four items related to an expansion of its transload center and starting intermodal services through city-owned railroad. 

The city has been working for over three years to re-establish intermodal services since the Union Pacific Railroad’s decision to close the intermodal ramp at Global III in Rochelle in May 2019. Work is ongoing to establish a new, small container yard right next to the city’s Rochelle Transload Center on Steward Road. 

The Greater Rochelle Economic Development Corporation purchased a 10-acre parcel near the RTC about two years ago with the idea of establishing intermodal services. The city plans to pave a driveway and put in a large concrete lifting pad and develop the first phase of an intermodal yard.

The first item approved by council was a development agreement between the city and GREDCO to construct a new intermodal container yard and improve the RTC. The two projects were bid under the direction that the city is the lead agency for the project with GREDCO’s bid named as an alternative bid. The contract for both projects will be between the city and Porter Brothers Construction of Rock Falls. 

The council also unanimously approved a proposal from Fehr Graham for professional engineer/construction services related to the transload yard expansion. Fehr Graham has played “an integral part” in developing the plans for the project, assisting with putting the bid specs together and assisting with bid opening and evaluations of the bids. 

The city’s portion of the services is $90,000 and GREDCO’s is $59,000. 

The council also voted unanimously to award the construction work to Porter Brothers to pave the entrance to the RTC and construct a lifting pad to provide intermodal services. The city received a $1 million grant from the state for the work. GREDCO will privately fund the construction of the container yard to transload, stack and store intermodal containers at a cost of $664,146. 

Finally, the city council unanimously approved an agreement with GREDCO for access and easements between the RTC and container yard. Anderson said construction could begin on the project this fall if weather allows.

Anderson believes the intermodal yard will be significant for businesses that will no longer have to drive to Joliet to another container yard and local businesses will benefit from reduced transportation expenses.

"Our local businesses are going to use this for their intermodal service,"  Mayor John Bearrows said. "This is a huge thing for our community. It's something we can be very proud of."

Rezoning

The council unanimously approved an ordinance rezoning 1.59 acres of property located at 450 Willis Avenue from B2 commercial highway to R5 high-density residential after a request by Seldal Properties, LLC, which has plans to build townhomes on it.

Seldal Properties Owner Bruce Seldal said he envisions there being 10-16 townhome units that will be similar to a recent development he built on Seventh Avenue. The “higher-end” units will rent in the range of $900 per month.

Downtown

The council unanimously approved an ordinance amending its code pertaining to its downtown area regarding special use and developments. With the new language, the Planning & Zoning Commission and city council will have the opportunity to review each potential new special use/construction project on a case-by-case basis.

“As the downtown starts to develop and the vacancies are very minimal, there's a lot happening and our downtown is really exploding,” City Community Development Director Michelle Pease said. “I think it's important that things get in front of our planning & zoning commission and you folks to look at that. We want to make sure we're following the comprehensive plan and you can pick and choose what you want to do."

Enterprise zone

The council unanimously approved a resolution supporting the goals of the Lee-Ogle Enterprise Zone, which started in a joint venture in 2015 with the city, Dixon and Lee and Ogle Counties. 

In their application to the Illinois Department of Commerce, over 9,000 acres between the four units of government were designated as enterprise zones. The enterprise zone has helped since to attract “thousands of jobs” and “hundreds of millions of dollars” to the region, the meeting’s agenda packet said.

The resolution Monday involved a recent Lee County Board move to not allow special use permits for projects that are not consistent with the goals of the LOEZ.

“Therefore, only projects that bring significant job creation and capital investment should be designated for the LOEZ,” the agenda item said.

"This is in a sense codifying our commitment to each other to work together for the common cause of the enterprise zone to build jobs in this area,” Anderson said.

Trick-or-treat

The council unanimously approved its city-wide 2022 trick-or-treat date of Saturday, Oct. 29 from 5-8 p.m.

Good News

City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh presented a Good News award to Rochelle Municipal Utilities Superintendent of Water/Water Reclamation Superintendent Adam Lanning for his work on obtaining a $2.5 million grant for the Well 8 iron removal plant project.

The city manager also recognized RMU Superintendent of Electric Operations Blake Toliver and his department for their work on a power outage Monday afternoon that impacted 3,500 customers and was restored in 30 minutes.

Constitution

Bearrows read a proclamation making Sept. 17-23 Constitution Week in the city. The proclamation was accepted by Flagg-Rochelle Public Library District Director Sarah Flanagan.

Chamber

Bearrrows proclaimed Sept. 11-17 Chamber of Commerce Week in the city. Rochelle Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tricia Herrera accepted the proclamation.

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