City Council: Purchase of easements for substation approved

Comcast franchise agreement approved


ROCHELLE — The Rochelle City Council unanimously approved a $13,333.33 purchase of two utility easements to run cable from its new $13.8 million electrical substation it broke ground on this month. 

The substation at 1600 Ritchie Court has feeder cable that will need to cross two parcels owned by Progressive Park Rochelle LLC. 

The substation is next to the old Nippon-Sharyo building, which will likely become the location of Project Jackpot in the future, a still-anonymous business that is said to be making a capital investment of over $130 million and adding 150 jobs that pay an average of $52,000 per year before benefits to the area. 

City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh said Project Jackpot will be Rochelle’s largest electricity user. The substation will serve that and any other industrial growth going south. 


The council approved a 10-year cable franchise agreement with Comcast by a vote of 6-1 with councilman Bil Hayes voting against it. 

The city’s previous franchise agreement with Comcast expired in 2015 and was never renegotiated. In 2018, staff once again began meeting with representatives from Comcast to update the previous agreement. Due to the pandemic the negotiations were postponed, and the agreement was not finalized.  


The council unanimously approved a resolution opposing Senate Bill 2298, which consists of amending the Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act of the Illinois Municipal Code. 

That act creates TIF funds that cities like Rochelle use to stimulate and induce redevelopment of public infrastructure along with economic development and job growth, 

The proposed changes to the bill would “eliminate the effectiveness of the most important tool available to municipalities to enhance public changes,” the city’s Community Development Director, Michelle Pease said on the agenda item information, 

Fiegenschuh said the most troubling of the changes is projects would have to be completed within 10 years instead of the current 23. 

“A lot of the development projects we've worked on wouldn't have happened if we didn't have a lengthier development timeline,” Fiegenschuh said. “10 years sounds like a long time, but when you're trying to recruit millions of dollars in investment it's much more difficult. Redevelopment agreements already approved are grandfathered in. But we're still working on ones now that this would affect.”

RMU expenditures

The council unanimously approved a change order raising the price of its Well 4 rehabilitation project under the water department. The expenditure approved Monday was $1.5 million after just over $1.4 million was originally budgeted for, a seven percent increase. 

The city council also approved expenditures for Rochelle Municipal Utilities purchases of $50,125 (sewer flow meters), $143,661 (electrical supplies) and $53,408.99 (new mower and tractor), 


The city presented a plaque to Rochelle Community Hospital CEO Gregg Olson in appreciation of RCH’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The month of May in the city will continue to honor the hospital in the future, Mayor John Bearrows said. 

“For the men and ladies that worked this last year and put their lives on the line every single day, I can’t say enough,” Olson said of RCH employees during the pandemic. “I will always be indebted to all the hard work they do and continue to do.”

RMU employees were recognized with a Good News award by Fiegenschuh for their water reclamation facility improvements winning the American Public Works Association Project of the Year. Utilities Superintendent Adam Lanning and Jay Mulholland accepted the award from Fiegenschuh. 

Pease and staff were recognized for volunteer landscaping upgrades done at the downtown parking lot near the Flagg Township Museum off North Sixth Street last weekend. The city purchased the lot last year and has made improvements to it.