The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
The Oquawka Village Board held its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, September 6th. Present were Trustees Don Rice, Shawn Lain, Tammy Bundy, Brian Collier, Scott Ray, Brenda Tee; Village President Lori Lipes; Village Attorney Andy Youngquist; Police Chief Tim Edwards; Zoning Officer John Newton; and Village Clerk Callie Thacker.
A resident asked the board for clarification on the UTV/Golf cart ordinance. She stated she was told some time ago, by an officer, that it was legal to ride a go-cart on side streets. She stated they had been told today by Police Chief Tim Edwards that it was not legal. The board advised the citizen that go-carts are not legal.
Resident Bruce Ruberg was set to address the board when Trustee Lain started asking questions on his behalf. It was unclear why. Lain asked for clarification on the current grass height ordinance and asked if it pertained to timber.
Collier noted the current ordinance stated grass could not be over 12 inches high but it said nothing about timber. Collier went on to say the property in question has been timber for years and is completely undeveloped with no sewer or water on the property. It became apparent that Lain and Collier were in some sort of underlying petty argument over a property that Collier owns, with Lain insinuating Collier was in violation because of overgrowth and timber.
Youngquist stated the board had adopted the current ordinance and if they wanted to change it, they should do so. Youngquist noted that well-kept gardens and some flowers may be over 12 inches tall.
At this time, Ruberg spoke up to say that people should maintain their property and if they don’t, the ordinance should be followed with a warning given and eventually a ticket. Collier answered not if it’s timber. Ruberg said the ordinance doesn’t say that. Lipes said it would be on the agenda next month to change the ordinance to clarify timber wasn’t a violation.
The purchase of the Western Illinois Realty building is set to close on Friday, September 9th. The building will eventually become the new Oquawka Museum.
Lain asked Youngquist if there was any update on the stolen tree case. Youngquist replied that the defendant had asked him to send some paperwork and he had done that but he had not talked to him.
Streets Supervisor Jeff Petersen advised there were two residents who wanted trees taken down in front of their respective properties. Both trees are on Village property.
There was some discussion on where they were at on the tree budget. It was determined $2500 is allotted in the budget for tree removal for the fiscal year and there is enough in the budget to remove the two trees in question.
There were two permits issued in the month of August, both were for solar panels. When it was noted that the cost of one was $53,000 and the other was $7500, Lain asked how they could be sure they were getting correct information when issuing permits since the permit fee is based on the cost of the project.
This brought up a long discussion with some examples being given such as doing the work yourself and a contractor who applies for the permit on the homeowner’s behalf trying to save money.
Finally, Lipes said they should just let zoning officer John Newton do his job and they would table the discussion until the next work session.
Lain responded by saying the problem with letting John just do his job and table it is when a board member has a question it just gets shut down.
Lipes replied this is something that they are going to have to change ordinances on and they will need to discuss it further and, in more detail, so she would just like to table it to the next work session.
Lain said they keep tabling things and then it gets forgotten and nothing gets done. Lain noted there was supposed to be a discussion about the fence ordinance that was tabled until this meeting and it’s not on the agenda.
He said this is what happens. It just goes on and on.
Lipes interrupted Lain, and called for the police report.
Lain stated he was unaware that Police Chief Edwards was driving the squad car back and forth from his home. Tee stated she didn’t know either and had found out from Lain.
Lain said he had talked to Tim earlier that day and had told Tim he is not for it. He went on to say it was nothing personal but it is a lot of miles and maintenance on a vehicle.
Lain said he is willing to hear pros and cons of why he should or shouldn’t be doing it. Lain went on to say he was a little shocked because he and the rest of the board didn’t know this was happening and he felt board members should know something like this.
Tee agreed saying it should be up to the board. Collier said his understanding that it was approved by his immediate supervisor, meaning President Lipes.
Collier asked Youngquist if they needed to vote to override Lipes decision to allow Tim to take the car home. Youngquist said she could just tell him not to take the car home.
Collier and Bundy both stated they have not heard her say that. Youngquist said the board could override Lipes with a positive vote.
Motion by Bundy that Tim not be allowed to take the squad car home unless it’s for a specific reason. Second by Tee.
Rice: ABSTSAIN Lain: YES Bundy: YES Collier: NO Ray: YES Tee: YES
Lain stated he felt River Drive is under lit and suggested decorative lights along the road. The board seemed receptive to the idea. Lain will get some more information and discuss more at the next work session.
There was discussion on if the Village would pay some of the cost of a new sidewalk in front of the Methodist Church on 3rd street. They will wait for the Church to get more bids before they discuss further.
After some discussion where Youngquist explained the process in which The Village could use a state statute to demolish a nuisance property on 4th street across from the sheriff’s office, Tee made a motion to proceed under the demolition statute. Second by Collier.
Rice asked Youngquist, since he was an interested party to the property in question because he lived at the neighboring property, should he abstain? Youngquist answered he didn’t think it was necessary but he could choose to do that.
YES: Bundy, Collier, Ray, and Tee.
Youngquist explained a board member has received an ordinance violation and it would be a conflict of interest for him to prosecute the violation. He asked the board to authorize him to hire Alexander Whitman to prosecute that ordinance violation at the same rate he gets paid which is $250/hour. Youngquist explained Whitman is a former Warren County State’s Attorney and a current Warren County public defender and will know what to do and how to handle the process.
Motion by Collier to hire Whitman. Second by Tee.
Rice: YES Lain: ABSTAIN Bundy: YES Collier: YES Ray: YES Tee: YES
Lain stated it’s $250/hour for a $130 ticket. Tee said then the board member should probably just pay the ticket and save the Village some money.
River Rat News
“Just the facts, Ma’am”