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April 5, 2010

Building Plan on University Cinemas Site Wins Approval of all But One

In another matter, the council approved an $11844 contract with Vintage Tech Recyclers Inc., Plainfield, for electronic recycling. The company will take all …

By Mary Ann Ford | mford@pantagraph.com | Posted: Monday, April 5, 2010 9:55 pm |

NORMAL — A plan to build a commercial/student apartment complex at the site of the University Cinemas won the approval of all but one Normal City Council member Monday night.

Councilwoman Cheryl Gaines was the sole “no” vote. Neighbors of the site at 1010 S. Main St. left the council chambers visibly disappointed and refused to comment on the outcome.

“This is a tough one for me,” Gaines said. “I feel confident if this goes through that the developer will make this as go as it can be. I live close … I know the impact of students.”

Gaines said the council previously indicated Vernon Avenue would be the dividing line between student housing and single-family housing, and she has to stay true to that.

While Councilman Jason Chambers said he had voiced concerns that previous proposals for the site might be the tipping point for the neighborhood, the alternatives allowed by code likely would cause more problems.

Town codes would allow a two-story apartment complex with nearly 200 bedrooms on the site without a special-use permit. Chambers noted it likely would not come with the security and maintenance plans Illinois Construction LLC is bringing.

Illinois Construction’s proposal to build two four-story buildings with a total of 204 bedrooms and half of the first floor as commercial space required a special-use permit.

Jeff Tinervin, one of the project partners, said the commercial space would cater to offices rather than high-traffic generators. There also would be on-site security and strict rules for residents.

Several council members agreed the plans and the developer made the difference for them.

“The biggest difference is the experience that this developer brings in regards to security and management,” said Councilwoman Sonja Reece. “It’s not something he started yesterday.”

Mayor Chris Koos agreed saying “our experience with this particular developer gives me some comfort.”

Koos said Tinervin has a long history of holding on to his properties and has expressed genuine concern for neighborhood issues.

Before the vote, neighbor Christie Embry told the council the development would bring noise, increased traffic and parking problems.

“The project is far too big for this site,” Embry said.

Neighbors also submitted a petition signed by 500 people opposing the project. In addition, seven homeowners with property adjacent to the project signed a petition objecting to the special-use permit and forced a super majority vote (five out of seven) for the request to be approved.

Recycling contract

In another matter, the council approved an $11,844 contract with Vintage Tech Recyclers Inc., Plainfield, for electronic recycling. The company will take all small electronics, including televisions.