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Local News

Joliet residency rule being loosened for city panels

Joliet plans to loosen a residency requirement to broaden membership in advisory boards, including a citizens panel that will guide the creation of a comprehensive plan for the city.
Joliet plans to loosen a residency requirement to broaden membership in advisory boards, including a citizens panel that will guide the creation of a comprehensive plan for the city.

Joliet should relax a residency requirement to broaden membership in advisory boards, including a citizens panel that will guide the creation of a comprehensive plan for the city, a City Council committee says.

The proposed rule change would apply to all advisory boards and extend membership to nonresidents who have “sufficient educational, business or philanthropic ties to the city.”

The Land Use and Legislative Committee on Wednesday voted, 3-0, to approve the changes, which now go next to the City Council meeting for final approval.

The rules would formalize what has sometimes been a practice in the city of appointing nonresidents to commissions and other boards despite a city ordinance that requires residency.

The Environmental Commission that is advising the city on where to get water when its deep wells run dry includes three nonresidents. The commission this week recommended Joliet get water from Lake Michigan, which could cost $1 billion and include construction of a 42-mile pipeline.

“This is being proposed to allow the mayor or City Council to appoint residents or nonresidents to ad hoc committees,” Jackson said.

Ad hoc committees typically serve on a temporary basis to address specific issues.

The language in the rules approved by the committee this week provides for two-year terms and contemplates the advisory bodies being in place longer if needed.

Jackson said the rule would allow people who “by virtue of their ties to the community would have a role” in a yet to be formed citizens advisory board that will advise the city in the creation of a citywide comprehensive plan.

The comprehensive plan will map out future development plans for Joliet.

The proposed rules give examples of nonresidents who could serve on advisory bodies, including those with “business ownership within the city, administrative position at a college or university located in the city, executive of a philanthropic organization located in the city.”

Advisory bodies are defined as serving “in an advisory capacity for the Joliet City Council on a specific issue, concern or matter.”

Current rules require that members of any board or commission must live within Joliet and be considered to have vacated office if they move out of the city.

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