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Morris council denies French Hens request to close Illinois Avenue

Safety concerns a major reason for denial

MORRIS — Nearly everything went smoothly Monday night at the meeting of the Morris City Council as most of the requests and motions passed without a hitch.

With one exception.

Three French Hens had proposed to close Illinois Avenue between Wauponsee and Calhoun streets from 5 a.m. until 4 p.m. on May 14, June 11, July 9, Aug. 13, Sept. 10 and Oct. 8 – all days the market is scheduled for the 2016 season.

A motion to deny that request was approved 6-0; council members Randy Larson and Julian Houston were absent.

Safety was the major concern for denying the request, as Illinois Avenue had been reconstructed by the state as a designated truck route to facilitate access to the grain elevators west of Stratton Park.

Closing Illinois Avenue in those blocks would have forced semi trucks to use Washington Street to access the Calhoun Street bridge to the elevators, and Washington Street is too narrow to accommodate that type of traffic, especially with the number of vehicles typically parked on both sides during the French Hens' hours on those days.

"Those elevators see a lot of traffic," Morris Mayor Richard Kopczick said. "We would be basically telling them that they have to shut down those six days. Shutting Illinois Avenue down for a couple of days during Corn Festival is different. We've been doing that for 68 years, and the elevators understand that. To do it for six Saturdays during the summer, that would be a different story."

The council did approve a request by 3 French Hens to use the Canal Port Park for its seventh season of French Country Markets on the aforementioned dates from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Council also approved, 6-0, the following requests:

• Lakewood Animal Hospital has permission to block Dresden Drive in front of its office to hold its annual Running for a Paws 5K/Puppy Trot from 8 a.m. to noon Oct. 16;

• Grundy County Clerk Kay Olson has permission to block various parking spaces along the ease side of Liberty Street west of the courthouse from March 14 to 16 for election judge parking during the March 15 primary election;

• Morris VFW has permission to use various city streets and Chapin Park for its annual Memorial Day Parade scheduled for May 30;

• The VFW has permission to hold its annual Poppy Days fundraiser May 20 and 21.

The judiciary committee approved business licenses for:

• Scott Darlington, doing business as The Bigger Bite at 721 Liberty St. to open a restaurant;

• Mindy Huynh, doing business as Mindy Nails, to operate a nail salon at 1715 N. Division St.;

• Blazin' Wings, Inc., doing business as Buffalo Wild Wings at 2685 Sycamore Drive, to operate a restaurant.

The committee also voted to transfer a Class D liquor license from Ton Hosek, doing business as Chicago Pizza Department, to Richard Stott, doing business as The County Seat Pub and Pizzeria, Inc.

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