City Council: Oversight agreement for Hickory Grove demolition approved

At its Monday meeting, the Rochelle City Council unanimously approved an ordinance authorizing City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh to execute an agreement with Willet Hoffman for construction oversight of the demolition of the Hickory Grove facility at 1127 N. 7th St.

Demolition planned to start Jan. 24

ROCHELLE — At its Monday meeting, the Rochelle City Council unanimously approved an ordinance authorizing City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh to execute an agreement with Willet Hoffman for construction oversight of the demolition of the Hickory Grove facility at 1127 N. 7th St.

Last month, the council approved a $361,900 demolition bid for the project. Fiegenschuh said Monday that the demolition is planned to start Jan. 24 and has said in the past it will take about 60 days to complete. 

The oversight agreement with Willet Hoffman will cost the city no more than $35,000. It will include maintaining a daily log of activities, providing witness that work is being completed in accordance with the intent of the expressed contract and serving as a central contact for the city, contractor, and adjacent property owners. 

“Willet Hoffman has been with us every step of the way on this project,” Fiegenschuh said. “Our meeting with the contractor last week went very well. It's been a long time coming because of all the different parties who have interest in this. They have good contacts with the condo association and the hotel owners, so I think it will provide good continuity. If there are issues, they know enough about the project that they can bring them to our attention.”

Fiegenschuh and City Engineer Sam Tesreau said at the meeting that asbestos abatement is part of the demolition agreement and that materials from the demolition will be treated and taken to the Rochelle Landfill. 

The demolition of Hickory Grove will be funded by a Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Rebuild Illinois grant reimbursement up to $365,750. The oversight contract will not be covered by that, due to the city not going out to bid for it. 

The city assumed ownership of the deteriorating building in early 2020 for $1 with the intention of demolishing it and developing the property. The building was previously owned by the Ogle County Civic Center Authority (OCCCA) board, which was under the Ogle County Board umbrella. The city decided to purchase the site so it could control it and likely would’ve had to deal with it later if it was abandoned due to the OCCCA board being in financial trouble.

Liquor licenses

The council held discussion and took no action on the issue of placing limits or a moratorium on issuance of new liquor licenses to limit the number of gaming machines in town. 

For the past few years, several council members have approached city staff about the idea of limiting the number of gaming machines in the city, the meeting’s agenda packet said. Gaming machines are allowed with the appropriate local liquor license and gaming licenses are given by the state, not the city. 

Fiegenschuh said “it looks like” the best way to limit the number of licenses would be by putting a moratorium on B (bar) licenses, if that were the way the council wanted to proceed in the future. He also brought up the idea of R (restaurant) licenses possibly requiring business owners to have a certain percentage of their sales be from food. Some other municipalities require that for restaurants, but Rochelle currently does not.  

“I would like us to consider doing something like that to ensure that if we had a gaming parlor come in and we limited B licenses and put a moratorium on them, they couldn't say they want to be a restaurant and put in a pizza oven or nacho machine just to get gaming in there,” Fiegenschuh said. “We could exempt the current license holders from something like that.”

Fiegenschuh said the city currently has 130 gaming machines in town, resulting in about $25,000 per month. He believes more business proposals that include gaming will be coming to town in the future and wants the council to be prepared if it wants to limit that. 

“I personally think we don't need any more gaming,” Mayor John Bearrows said. “I think we're saturated and our numbers show there's no more money coming in because it gets divided up by more people. If that's the only control we have over gaming is to limit liquor licenses, that's really the only option we have.”

Fiegenschuh said he and City Attorney Dominick Lanzito will prepare a proposal for the council to review at the next meeting or the first meeting in January. 

The council unanimously approved the deletion of three liquor licenses at the meeting. Holiday Inn Express at 1240 Dement Rd. did not renew its liquor license but may in 2023. El Tapatio at 1310 N. 7th St. notified the city that it permanently closed the restaurant on Dec. 19. A previously-approved liquor license for Rusty’s Slots at 901 S. 7th St. was deleted as the city has had no contact with the owner since August and the city does not allow open inactive liquor licenses.

Water tower

The council unanimously approved an engineering agreement with Fehr Graham for $44,750 for the painting of Water Tower B located on 2nd Avenue near the Illinois Route 251 overpass. A full inspection was recently completed on the tower and some cleaning of the inside was done and some mechanical work was attempted. 

Fehr Graham will assist Rochelle Municipal Utilities in completing the remainder of the necessary work including painting the exterior of the tower and possibly coating the inside to prevent corrosion. 

The city has applied for grant funding on the project and is still waiting on the results. If it isn’t awarded those funds, the city will use already-awarded state funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to complete the project. Fiegenschuh said the majority of next year’s ARPA funds ($612,000) would be allocated towards the project that could amount to $750,000-800,000.


The council unanimously approved an update to its airport zoning ordinance to now allow it to permit by special use a banquet hall, brew pub (restaurant), restaurants, assembly/meeting halls and public recreational facilities. 

The issue came about after conversations about and budgeted money for a public recreation facility at the airport to generate more revenue. 

“In talking about that at a staff level, we realized that's not an allowable use at the airport,” Fiegenschuh said. “Then we realized if that's not allowable, how are we having events out at the Flight Deck? We wanted to make sure the city and any vendors we have out at a city facility are following the rules. It's a housekeeping issue that should've been taken care of in 2011 when Flight Deck moved in.”

Special use

The council unanimously approved a special use permit for tattooing for Ricco’s Salon at 306 Eagle Dr. 

The special use will allow the salon to perform microblading as an added service. Microblading is a tattooing technique in which a small handheld tool made of several tiny needles is used to add semi-permanent pigment to the skin. 

Under the special use permit, if it desired to do so and met necessary health and safety codes, the salon could do actual tattoos in the future. It will be under the same special use as Steder Tattoo, a recently-opened tattoo parlor downtown.