VILLAGE OF NORTH AURORA
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE MEETING MINUTES
Monday, June 7, 2021
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Village Board meeting was conducted live remotely
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Gaffino called the meeting to order.
In attendance: Mayor Mark Gaffino, Trustee Laura Curtis, Trustee Mark Carroll, Trustee Mark Guethle, Trustee Mike Lowery, Trustee Todd Niedzwiedz, Trustee Carolyn Salazar
Staff in attendance: Village Administrator Steve Bosco, Finance Director Bill Hannah, Community & Economic Development Director Mike Toth, Village Attorney Kevin Drendel, Public Works Director John Laskowski, Police Chief Dave Fisher.
AUDIENCE COMMENTS – See below
TRUSTEE COMMENTS – None
1. 232 Mistwood Variance
Director Toth explained that the residents at 232 Mistwood Lane would like to construct an enclosed sun room which would be a building addition. The plans for the addition leave a 37’ from the proposed construction as opposed to the 40’ required by the Village Zoning Ordinance, therefore a variation to allow three feet of the enclosed porch to be located in the rear yard was being requested. Director Toth also stated that there was a Public Hearing at the Plan Commission meeting on June 1, 2021 in regard to this request with the Commission giving a positive recommendation for the Variance.
The Petitioner Cheryl Lewis further explained their desire to build the sun room which would replace an existing aging deck as well as improve the home.
Trustee Niedzwiedz asked if any of the Petitioner’s neighbors were in attendance at the Public Hearing to which Director Toth stated they were not.
All Trustees in agreement to approve the Variance.
2. Park District Land Cash Resolution
Director Hannah explained that the Village requires that developers to donate either land or cash if land is impractical. The purpose is for the development or improvement of parks and other recreational purposes. In the past the Village has held on to the funds and then reimbursed the Fox Valley Park District once the projects were completed. Hannah stated that recent discussion has questioned whether or not to disburse the funds on a more frequent basis to the FVPD to better impact the way the funds are used within the Village. Staff was proposing to remit funds collected for park improvements on at least an annual basis.
Trustee Guethle praised the Fox Valley Park District and agreed with the Resolution.
Trustee Niedzwiedz was in favor of the Resolution.
Trustee Carroll asked if the FVPD were entitled to the Land-Cash Fees, to which Attorney Drendel replied that the Village has statutory authority to provide for parks, however the Fox Valley Park District handles the majority of the Village’s parks. The Village’s funds combined with additional FVPD funds allows for leverage in providing more robust parks and programming.
Administrator Bosco explained that the origination of the disbursement method of paying the Fox Valley Park District once projects are completed is not known. The Resolution provided for the funds to disbursed to the FVPD more regularly, allowing the funds to be more readily available to the FVPD in order to use them more effective and efficiently. The caveat remains that the funds must be used within the Village of North Aurora in existing parks or for the purchase of land for the purpose of park land.
Trustee Carroll asked if any of the Land-Cash Fees are reserved by the Village for use in any of the Village’s parks that are not FVPD maintained. Administrator Bosco stated that Village owned parks are Riverfront Park, the Berman Tower area and the Veteran’s Memorial, funding from the Land-Cash Fees are not reserved for those areas. Director Hannah explained that any maintenance issues have come out of the General Fund.
Trustee Curtis stated that perhaps the Village should reserve some of the funding for the expenses that derive from the Village owned parks.
Administrator Bosco reminded the Board that the Land-Cash Fees must be used for park improvements or purchase of land for park purposes, it cannot be utilized for park programming, Attorney Drendel agreed with this statement and expanded on it.
Trustee Guethle reiterated his praise for the Park District and stated that with the FVPD maintaining parks, it removes a burden from Village Staff.
Trustee Lowery was in agreement with the Resolution.
Trustee Salazar asked for confirmation that the Land-Cash Fees are collected from new developments when the developments are not going to provide a park. Administrator Bosco confirmed that that is the case. He stated that the fund has a large sum of money currently due to the Lincoln Valley project, however typically the fund only has a few hundred thousand annually. The Resolution proposes a more frequent disbursement of the funds collected, once or more annually.
Trustee Salazar was in favor of the Resolution.
Mayor Gaffino stated that the Village has enjoyed a great relationship with North Aurora and the purpose of the Resolution was to get the practice “in writing”. Gaffino agreed with Trustee Guethle stating that the FVPD maintaining the parks is a burden off of the Village.
Attorney Drendel stated that the change is being made unilaterally by Resolution which can be revisited as opposed to an Intergovernmental Agreement, locking us in to the change.
Administrator Bosco agreed with Attorney Drendel’s statement, and added that there are frequent open discussion with the Park District, however this Resolution will formalize the discussion.
Jeff Palmquist representing the Fox Valley Park District was in attendance to answer questions.
3. Liquor Code Changes
Administrator Bosco explained that when Mayor Gaffino stepped in as Liquor Commissioner he began reviewing the Liquor Code, and upon review there were a few issues Mayor Gaffino wanted addressed.
• The first issue for discussion was questioning the time that alcohol sales begin, packaged liquor sales start at 10am on Sundays as opposed to other local communities at 9am. Staff was looking for feedback from the Board on packaged liquor sales beginning at 9 am on Sundays.
Trustee Carroll stated that the additional hour of sales would be good for Village liquor stores.
Trustee Niedzwiedz asked if there was a reason why Sundays were different for liquor sales, Attorney Drendel explained that there was a time in the past when there were no liquor sales on Sunday, and the code is a remnant of those times.
The Board is in agreement with the 9am alcohol sales on Sunday.
• The second item discussed was a change to the code
“Notwithstanding the foregoing to the contrary, alcoholic liquors may be sold, offered for sale and/or consumed until 2:00 a.m. immediately following the day that is a legal holiday.”
The question raised by this code is that New Year’s Eve is not recognized as a legal holiday and therefore does not fall under this extended hours allowance. Staff proposed the code change:
“Notwithstanding the foregoing to the contrary, alcoholic liquors may be sold, offered for sale and/or consumed until 2:00 a.m. immediately following the day that is a legal holiday and also offered on December 31 (New Year’s Eve) until 2:00 a.m. the following day.”
The Board was in agreement with the change, with Trustee Carroll also offering to add the day prior to Thanksgiving to the code. Trustee Curtis suggested changing the code to reflect a 2 a.m. cut off the entire week, as it is on the weekend.
Police Chief Fisher stated that he would not be in favor of a 2 a.m. code change for the entire week.
• The third item is the proration of Liquor License fees of businesses closing. Staff is asking if it is appropriate to rebate a business that is closing a prorated rate.
Administrator Bosco stated that businesses’ licenses are prorated on a quarterly basis as they are coming in to the community.
Trustee Carroll stated that the Village would be losing revenue if businesses would be refunded.
Trustee Niedzwiedz asked what the cost of a liquor license is, to which Administrator Bosco stated that they range from $1,500 to $3,000.
Trustee Carroll asked how many liquor licenses the Village currently had, Administrator Bosco stated 31. Trustee Carroll then asked if it would be easier to bill the businesses quarterly. Administrator Bosco stated that a lot of businesses like to make one payment.
Mayor Gaffino stated that his thoughts were that since the Village prorated the license fees as new businesses entered the Village, it made sense to prorate if a business leaves midyear.
Trustee Salazar asked how many businesses close annually. Administrator Bosco explained that many different types of businesses hold liquor licenses, restaurants, grocery stores, liquor stores, gas stations and more, not many close each year.
The Trustees were in agreement to prorate the liquor license fees for closing businesses.
• The fourth item for discussion is granting licensed to non-citizens.
Administrator Bosco explained that the Village has encountered instances of applicants that are legal residents of the United States, however are not U.S. Citizens. The Village Code states that an applicant must be a United States citizen, which mirrored language in the State liquor license code which has since been changed. The State of Illinois has eliminated the citizenship requirement and this change has been reflected in the surrounding communities or Aurora and Batavia.
Trustees agreed that the Code should be changed to drop the U.S. citizenship requirement, however applicants must be a legal resident of the United States.
• The last item for discussion is a revision of the verbiage of the code to make it more concise.
Administrator Bosco explained that the section 5.08.070 of the code is confusing and redundant as written. Staff and Attorney Drendel have been working to revise the section.
Mayor Gaffino asked if the Executive Orders for Covid Regulations have expired. Administrator Bosco explained that the executive order is through the end of June, however the Board can change that and rescind the orders.
Mayor Gaffino stated that he has heard positive feedback about the curbside liquor order that was placed. He suggested that it might be worthwhile to consider extending that.
Attorney Drendel stated that the state has taken action to extend the curbside liquor sales.
Discussion was had regarding the State’s extension of certain orders and what the Village can do to preserve certain actions.
Trustee Carroll stated that he is in favor of removing the Executive Orders. He believed that the risk has passed and it is time to begin regulating the businesses according to code.
Further discussion centered on the Executive Order that allowed dining extending in to parking lots with Trustees split on whether or not to continue allowing outdoor dining under tents. Attorney Drendel added that in order for the outdoor dining order to continue beyond the Executive Order, the Village’s Code would need to be changed.
Trustee Curtis stated that while she is in agreement with the curbside liquor sales, the outdoor dining should be returned to normal Zoning Code enforcement.
Director Toth explained some of the criteria that an outdoor dining space must meet.
Trustee Carroll stated that the establishments that have permanent outdoor dining have gone through the proper channels to have them, which is what the Village should be encouraging. He also asked how many businesses are taking advantage of the Executive Order and have temporary outdoor dining. Administrator Bosco stated that he believed there were three to five.
Trustee Curtis agreed with Trustee Carroll stating that the businesses taking advantage of the Executive Order for outdoor dining have an unfair advantage over those that went through proper channels to create permanent outdoor dining spaces.
Trustees Lowery and Salazar believed that allowing the businesses to keep their temporary outdoor dining through the summer months would be good for them. Trustee Lowery stated that if it was possible to extend the Executive Order allowing for temporary outdoor dining he would be in favor for that, however not if it meant changing existing Zoning Code. Attorney Drendel stated that he believed that once the State moved in to phase five, the Village could not extend the Executive Orders and a Zoning Code change would have to be made to allow for temporary outdoor dining.
Further discussion regarding temporary zoning changes ensued.
Administrator Bosco summarized the discussion by suggesting that and ordinance be brought before the Board on June 21, 2021 regarding the curbside liquor sales, mirroring the States laws. In regard to the zoning, an ordinance to super cede the current code with a non-permanent change can be presented.
Trustees were in agreement with mirroring the State’s curbside liquor laws.
Trustees agreed to also mirror the state in regard to zoning and outdoor dining codes.
• Beautification Committee
The Beautification Committee is one of two Committees governed by the Village’s municipal code. Upon examination of the current status of the Committee, Administrator Bosco explained that the Beautification Committee is not operating as originally intended. The Village staff has taken a larger role in Committee processes. The Committee is currently understaffed with three members when it should be six to eight. The Code in relation to the Beautification Committee are in need of revision. Administrator Bosco went through the recommended changes.
Trustees were in favor of changes.
• Trustee Committees
Administrator Bosco explained that in 2009 four subcommittees were established. The Development, Finance, Public Facilities and Public Safety Committees which were established in an effort to give Trustees inclusion on important Village topics as they arose and prompt more in depth discussion before items were presented to the entire Board. Each Trustee was assigned two Committees. Ultimately, the subcommittees became an additional, unnecessary step as items were presented during Committee of the Whole regardless. Staff was recommending dissolution of the four subcommittees.
The Village Board agreed to dissolution of the four subcommittees.
EXECUTIVE SESSION – Collective Bargaining
Motion to adjourn made by Trustee Lowery and seconded by Trustee Guethle. All in favor. Motion approved.
RETURN FROM EXECUTIVE SESSION
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Gaffino called the meeting to order.
In attendance: Mayor Mark Gaffino, Trustee Laura Curtis, Trustee Mike Lowery, Trustee Mark Guethle, Trustee Mark Carroll, Trustee Todd Niedzwiedz, Trustee Carolyn Salazar
Staff in attendance: Village Administrator Steve Bosco, Finance Director Bill Hannah, Village Attorney Kevin Drendel, Public Works Director John Laskowski.
Motion to adjourn made by Trustee Guethle and seconded by Trustee Curtis. All in favor. Motion approved.