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Local News

Joliet puts off decision on old bridge

The Joliet City Council on Tuesday approved a 48-hour limit on bounce houses put in front or side yards.
The Joliet City Council on Tuesday approved a 48-hour limit on bounce houses put in front or side yards.

JOLIET – Two business owners trying to stop the city from vacating a bridge they need to get out of their property received a reprieve Tuesday.

The city council tabled a vote for the bridge at Old Richards Street for two months.

What difference that two months will make is unclear; however, attorney Elizabeth Bacon said it was better than a vote at the council meeting Tuesday.

“I think more can be accomplished in 60 days than if they did it tonight,” Bacon said after the council voted, 7-0, to table the matter until Feb. 6.

Bacon was one of two lawyers at the meeting asking the council to take some time to review the issue before putting what now is a public bridge into the hands of private property owners.

She represents construction company Geomat Inc., which has a lawsuit pending against Joliet concerning the bridge. Geomat and with automotive wholesaler MPV both sit on a section of Old Richards Street cut off when Interstate 80 was built. They must cross Hickory Creek via the old bridge, which city officials say Joliet has planned to vacate for years.

City staff has estimated the cost of bridge repairs at more than $2 million. Vacating it would leave future maintenance in the hands of the business owners who use the bridge.

Attorney Andy Boyer, who represents MPV, told the council, “If you pass this vacation, my client is taking the position that you still own the bridge.”

The council did not discuss the matter before voting to table the vote, but Councilman Larry Hug said after the meeting that new City Manager David Hales, who started on the job last week, had asked that a vote be delayed until he could review the matter.

Bounce houses and signs

The ongoing debate over what to do about bounce houses ended Tuesday without further discussion.

The council voted, 7-0, for an ordinance that puts a 48-hour limit on bounce houses located in front or side yards.

Bounce house rules have been debated since June when a city council committee voted to ban them from front and side yards altogether.

However, the full city council later refused to consider the ban, saying they were too restrictive.

The council also approved its first ordinance regulating electronic messaging boards, requiring that future signs be equipped with automatic dimmers to limit their brightness during the dark.

New TIF districts

The council set a public hearing for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 20 to create a plan for a second tax increment financing district downtown, which would nearly double the amount of property eligible for the tax incentives.

A downtown TIF district has been in place since 2000. The incentive provides opportunities to use increased property taxes that come from new construction and renovations to offset the cost of improvements and development.

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