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Fire district’s repair center now in city

Council OKs annexation, rezoning for property

The Morris Fire Protection and Ambulance District received final approval from the Morris City Council to officially make its new building a part of the city.

In May, the fire district purchased the old truck testing facility on Gore Road. It is being used for the district's repair center to work on its vehicles and, in the distant future, to provide a training structure on the property.

"We have almost $40,000 into the building right now," Chief Tracey Steffes said at Monday's council meeting.

The council approved annexing the property into the city of Morris, and changing the zoning to manufacturing. New property is automatically annexed in as residential.

The district's attorney, Christopher Dearth of Hynds, Rooks, Yohnka & Bzdill, said the manufacturing-1 zoning fits both its current use and the future training structure.

Steffes said that, in seven to 10 years, he would like to construct a masonry or concrete block building on the back of the less-than-one-acre property for training purposes. Firefighters would use it for hose and ladder training. There would be no burning on the property.

The Fields of Saratoga subdivision is located near the property and the homeowner's association expressed concern about the zoning change, said Steffes. They are fine with the fire department's use, but were concerned that, if the department ever sold the property, manufacturing could allow for other uses that are not as fitting with a subdivision next door.

To ease their concerns, the annexation agreement states that, if the fire district is going to sell the property, it must be rezoned to light manufacturing first to limit what can go on that property.

"We felt it was the neighborly thing to do," Steffes said.

The council also approved two variances for the fire district: a side-yard variance and a lot width variance.

A lot width variance of 30 feet was granted. In M-1, a 150-foot lot width is required, but this lot is 120 feet. Also in M-1, a side-yard setback of 15 feet is required, so a two-foot variance was granted for the district's lot, which has a setback of 13 feet.

In other business, the council approved designating the alley between Jackson and North streets, and Franklin Street and Illinois 47, as one-way going eastbound. The alley is located behind the Presbyterian Church and between it and the Franklin Cosmetology Institute.

Both the institute and church requested the one-way designation, said Mayor Richard Kopczick.

Alderman Drew Muffler said they asked for the one-way because they were concerned with traffic from Illinois 47 going through the alley too fast. The buildings create blind spots for drivers using the alley.

"You can pull onto 47, but not from it," he said adding that the parties offered to pay for the speed bumps and warning signs.

The council also approved a conditional use permit allowing Dairy Queen to add a drive-through window to its facility on Illinois 47.

The drive-through will be located on the north side of the restaurant and allow for the stacking of five cars. There are diagonal parking stalls there currently. These stalls will be moved over on the same side for the drive-through lane.

"I think it'll be great. I'll be in line," said Alderman Randy Larson.

The next city council meeting will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19. It will not be on Monday, Feb. 18, due to Presidents' Day.

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