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Marseilles approves zoning ordinance amendments

Trey Schorn (left) and Alfonso Valdez (middle) become Marseilles Police Department's newest officers as they are sworn in by City Clerk Lesley Hart during Wednesday's City Council meeting.
Trey Schorn (left) and Alfonso Valdez (middle) become Marseilles Police Department's newest officers as they are sworn in by City Clerk Lesley Hart during Wednesday's City Council meeting.

Marseilles city attorney Rich Burton said two zoning ordinance amendments approved Wednesday by the City Council will have little impact on the general public.

One of the amendments pertains to residential districts. The majority of changes were minor text additions and deletions, all done with the purpose of creating more modern and updated ordinances with better clarification.

After a public hearing on April 25, 2017, the Plan Commission has since been reviewing the zoning ordinance pertaining to residential districts. After several meetings through Oct. 24, the commission recommended the text revisions.

“It's been quite a while since these zoning ordinances have been reviewed,” Burton said. “The mayor and I have attended quite a few zoning meetings with the intention of updating the zoning ordinances we have. A lot of things have been taken out and other things have been added so that everything is easier to understand.”

The other zoning ordinance clarifies duties of the city's building inspector, a role that changed earlier this year.

At one time, Marseilles had a zoning officer and a building inspector.

John Knudson, who served as mayor of Marseilles from 1983 to 2003, later served as the city's zoning enforcement officer.

“He was very good, but he did not do inspections. He wasn't qualified to conduct building inspections," said Mayor Jim Hollenbeck. "So, we were contracting for outside building inspector services. When John passed away (in June), we consolidated the two positions. The revised zoning ordinance now clarifies the specific duties of the building inspector, since this is a new consolidation of the two positions."

Dan Lowe was hired as building inspector about two months ago.

Accounts payable for last half of October

In another matter during Wednesday's council meeting, the council approved the payments of $306,557.10. The large amount was due to a $180,587.50 bond and $30,000 to the city of Ottawa for dispatch services. The council also approved $62,129.81 in payroll expenses.

Two officers sworn in

Alfonso Valdez and Trey Schorn became the city's two newest police officers when they were sworn in by City Clerk Lesley Hart.

The openings came after one officer became the school resource officer for Marseilles Elementary School. Capt. Ken Sangston also retired to become the school resource officer at Seneca High School.

Valdez has served as an officer in Sheridan, DeKalb and Earlville. Schorn started his career in 2016 as an officer in Granville.

Basketball hoops hanging over streets

Streets Commissioner Bob Davis discussed street obstacles with regard to winter snow removal. He said he noticed a number of portable basketball hoops hanging over streets.

"When streets are plowed at night, our drivers may not be able to see them. This can also cause problems with the lights on our truck. I want to say that if any of our lights are damaged due to these obstacles, the homeowner will be receiving a bill from the city for light replacements."

Stormwater culvert and drainage tile projects

Davis said five bids were received for the stormwater culvert at the west end of Elm Street. “The lowest bid was $14,000 more than what we expected, but we are using concrete and that means this culvert will last 100 years.”

Seven bids were received for the drainage tile from the end of Lawrence Street to Young Street.

“The good news is that the lowest bid was $4,000 less than what we were expecting,” Davis said. “These are just two of the many stormwater projects we have that will control water run-off."

Both bids will be discussed in detail at the next board meeting.

Shop With a Cop

For a 14th year, the Marseilles Police Department will participate in the Shop with a Cop program. Gary Lewey, commissioner of public health and safety, said the program was beneficial to families and children in the city who need help during the Christmas holiday. Last year, 15 children shopped with a cop.

“The program starts with a breakfast before going to Walmart for a shopping trip,” Lewey said. “Kids can buy gifts for their families and for themselves. Then everyone heads back to the station to wrap presents before eating dinner. We're looking for candidates to participate in the program and asking for public donations. I know the Lions Club and Local 393 also do this type of a program. We're really happy to be able to help families in our community.

Meeting date change

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday Thursday, Nov. 22, Hollenbeck said the next board meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 20.

“Many people will be preparing for the holiday," Hollenbeck said. "So we decided to change our meeting date.”

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