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Shorewood closer to home rule status

SHOREWOOD – Village trustees took the first step Tuesday to grant Shorewood home rule status, and to pay for a possible pipeline to bring Lake Michigan water to residents’ faucets.

The village board with a 4-0 vote approved a resolution to put the referendum question of if the village should be a home rule municipality on the April 7 election ballot.

According to the state constitution, a municipality automatically attains home rule status when its population reaches 25,000. But a village like Shorewood, with its Census 2010 population of 15,615, can put a binding referendum question on the ballot.

With home rule status the village will have additional taxing authority. Mayor Rick Chapman said that could pay for a pipeline bringing Lake Michigan water to the village.

“It allows us to have different abilities to raise more funds,” said Chapman, who has previously said the village will have to get a new water source. “We’re in the process of putting together resident info packets on what we think the plan should be.”

That plan involves the home rule status allowing the village to increase the sales tax 0.75 percent, Village Administrator Roger Barrowman said. The additional tax would raise about $29 million that could be used to help fund construction of the pipeline.

The current sales tax rate is at 8 percent. Broken down, 5.25 percent is the state rate, the Regional Transportation Authority receives 0.75 percent, and the village has a 1 percent share and 1 percent non-home rule share.

Barrowman said the tax targets residents of other municipalities because they account for more commercial activity than Joliet residents.

Village Clerk Tracy Ragusa will certify the question to the Will County Clerk’s office, which is expected to put it on the ballot for the spring elections.

Route 52 development

Trustees also approved a planned unit development for two buildings on the Crossroads Plaza lot at the northwestern corner of the Route 52 and Route 59 intersection.

That intersection is part of the Route 52 corridor, which Chapman identified as a major economic zone the village will focus on developing in 2015.

The development plan would change plans for a new corner building into a one-story structure, construct an addition and drive-thru to the north building, reface the north and west buildings, and improve signage, parking water detention and trash locations.

Trustees also discussed the possibility of a raised median along Route 59 to prevent northbound travelers from attempting a left turn onto the property right after the intersection

“I’m really happy this is moving forward,” Chapman said, adding that the intersection was a hard project but very vital for the village.

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