City promotes development on south side
The Fairfield City Council took a step toward developing land near the Jefferson County Health Center at its meeting Monday.
The council passed the first reading of an ordinance to rezone land east of the health center on the other side of Highway 1 to accommodate Pilot Grove Savings Bank, which is planning to build a bank there.
The council also passed the first reading of an ordinance to enlarge an urban renewal area in the same neighborhood so it would include the bank’s proposed location and the proposed location of a Casey’s General Store at the intersection of Libertyville Road and Highway 1. The new urban renewal area also would include land east of the AmericInn as well as land surrounding the health center.
Fairfield Economic Development Association executive director Tracy Vance said he hopes to develop the land around the health center and across from AmericInn, although no development has been announced for those areas.
The advantage for Casey’s and Pilot Grove Savings Bank of being in the urban renewal area is the taxes from both businesses will go toward infrastructure improvements that will directly benefit them. For instance, Casey’s property taxes will pay for a sewer extension worth $60,000 going to the business. Pilot Grove Savings Bank will pay for a road that will branch from Highway 1 and go toward its business.
Vance said none of the businesses in the urban renewal area will pay less in taxes than they would have outside the area.
In other news, Dave Neff asked the council to approve a downtown event, “Oktoberfest,” as part of Fairfield 1st Fridays Art Walk. The event would be Oct. 4 and would last from 5:30-11 p.m. The event will feature a beer garden on the northwest corner of Central Park, and eliminate parking on the north side of Burlington Avenue and the west side of Court Street adjacent to the square.
The council approved Neff’s request on a 5-1 vote. Councilors Michael Halley, Tony Hammes, Daryn Hamilton, Martha Rasmussen and Connie Boyer voted in favor of the motion. Councilor John Revolinski voted against the motion while Jessica Ledger-Kalen was absent.
The council passed the second reading of an ordinance that would increase sewer fees 20 percent. The vote was unanimous among the six councilors present, excluding Ledger-Kalen, who was absent.
The ordinance calls for the sewer fees to take effect on the first full billing cycle after Nov. 1. Water and sewer customers in the city should expect to see the effect of the fee increase on their December bills.
Hamilton said some residents are confused about whether just the sewer fees are rising or if both the water and sewer fees will. So far, the council has only considered raising the sewer fees, and the ordinance before the council pertains strictly to the sewer fees.
However, council committees have discussed raising the water rates as well. The firm McClure Engineering has recommended hiking water rates 15 percent every year for the next four years to pay for the infrastructure improvements the city will have to make.
Halley said he heard from residents who were worried about how low-income people would fare after the sewer fees are increased. The other councilors discussed a way for residents to donate to a fund that would go toward low-income people to offset their sewer bill. City attorney John Morrissey said the city could set up an escrow account to do that.