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By Sue Moen 

Belleville Plan Commission Hears Citizen Comments


August 11, 2022

On Wednesday, August 3rd, the Belleville Plan Commission met and the audience was filled with citizens who wanted to discuss the sale of the old Library. The Commission was scheduled to review a proposed zoning change for the property at 130 South Vine Street from a P-G (Public Grounds District) to a B-G (General Commercial District).

Village Administrator Jeff O’Dell gave some background on the old library and the process the village board had gone through. The Village had requested RFPs (Requests for Proposals) for the library. Apparently the American Legion were the only ones to file an RFP. Later, a representative of a potential new business came forward and after making presentations to the Village, an offer was presented. The Village accepted the offer. Closing on the property will be in mid-August.

Before hearing Public Comments, O’Dell announced that the Commission had a couple of letters and a post-it note about the issue. Wendall Fenstermann, Adjutant-Treasurer, Duppler-Smith Post 460 American Legion, asked for permission to read his letter (see his letter on page 2). It was obvious from the beginning of the public comment section that people were passionate about the issue.

Joshua Russow informed the board and the audience that he filed a complaint against the village for numerous open meetings violations. (See story left). He also noted that if the board’s actions were deemed illegal, the sale could possibly be cancelled. Russow commented that the Village had driven down the price for theses specific buyers, and that they were investing in the business instead of the business investing in the community.

Others commented that the deal gave that the business purchasing the old Library an unfair advantage and wouldn’t help the downtown businesses. One resident asked the Commission if the board’s actions would actually be detrimental to the new business in light of how people are reacting to the deal. Neighbors also said that they didn’t believe that a business there would help bring customers to downtown.

One woman said that it was heartbreaking that some of her relatives couldn’t go to the American Legion to enjoy the company of other veterans because of the difficulty with stairs.

After listening to all the comments, Commission member Chanse Kaczmarski made a motion for the Zoning Committee to NOT recommend changing the zoning for 130 South Vine Street.

The next Belleville Village Board meeting will be on Monday, August 15, 2022, at 6:00 p.m.


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