The Fulton County Zoning Board of Appeals Minutes
Fulton County Board Office, 257 W. Lincoln Street, Lewistown, IL.
Phone: Janice Emmons at (309) 547-0902
Committee: Zoning Board of Appeals
Meeting Place: Fulton County Board Office, 257 W. Lincoln Street, Lewistown, IL.
Date: Wednesday, June 28, 2023
- Call to Order
Bob Ackerman (present/xxxxxx)
Sally Jo Clark (present/xxxxxx)
Cathy Eathington (present/xxxxxx)
Mat Fletcher (present/xxxxxx)
Jayson Herrick (xxxxxx/absent)
Bill Phillips (present/xxxxxx)
Damon Roberson (xxxxxx/absent)
FULTON COUNTY BOARD MEMBERS: None
ELECTED & APPOINTED OFFICICALS: Janice Emmons Zoning Director, Julie Russell – Supervisor of Assessment
GUEST(S): Ryan Swanson – Consultant Representative for Dollar General Partners
- Roll Call/Quorum
Roll Call was taken, quorum present.
- Additions, Deletions, Corrections to the Agenda
Member Fletcher moved to approve the agenda with a second by Member Clark. Motion carried by voice vote with all voting ayes.
- Approval of Minutes – March 1, 2023 and May 31, 2023
Member Eathington moved to approve the minutes from March 1, 2023 with a second by Member Ackerman. Motion carried by voice vote.
Member Fletcher moved to approve the minutes from May 31, 2023 with a second by Member Clark. Motion carried by voice vote.
- Public Remarks – None
- New Business
Discussion/Action: PUBLIC HEARING TO REZONE PART OF PARCEL #01-01-30-200-001 ASSOCIATED WITH DOLLAR GENERAL STORE AVON FROM AGRICULTURAL/CONSERVATION (AC) TO BUSINESS (B)
Chairman Phillips asked the representative from Dollar General, Ryan Swanson, to speak. Mr. Swanson stated recently the subdivision plat was approved. The subdivision was dividing 1.5 acres from a parcel of 150 acres. Matt stated it took several months working with IDOT on the right-of-ways.
A 10,000 foot Dollar General store was constructed along with 30 parking spaces. The drainage for the project is draining from Northeast to the South.
Member Fletcher inquired if the water to the south has any retention. Fletcher stated the water runs off to the state right-of-ways.
Chairman Phillip stated the ZBA committee received certified copies of the architect plans.
Member Fletcher inquired about the current zoning layout. Mr. Swanson stated there is residential zoning to the west of the property.
Member Fletcher stated Dollar General has already built a store, but is only now asking for a zoning change. This puts the ZBA in a bad position. He inquired how this occurred. Matt Swanson stated he started working with the Avon Village early in the planning, but later discovered that he should have been working with the County for platting for the site. What compounded this was the State of Illinois and how long it took to approve the right-of-way. Swanson stated the property was not annexed from the Village of Avon and this has caused the approvals to be done backwards.
Chairman Phillips stated the entire process has been reviewed by Fulton County States Attorney Jochums and Julie Russell, Supervisor of Assessment, to accurately annex the property for Dollar General.
Chairman Phillips stated the County needs to do the steps to comply with the zoning of the Dollar General building even though it is after the fact, and on the advice of legal counsel the committee is proceeding this way.
Chairman Phillips stated he can see how this got started as the Village of Avon sign is South of the Dollar General property in question and on the west side of the road is the Village of Avon city limits.
The east side of the road heads north and is not in the Village of Avon city limits.
Mr. Swanson stated he worked with the Village on a different site on the north end of town that did not
materialize for the Dollar General project.
Member Fletcher inquired if the public had the opportunity to weigh in on the process. Mr. Swanson stated the Village of Avon had a public hearing to annex the property from the Village.
Chairman Phillip inquired if anyone from the public had comments.
Patrick McKinley stated he has owned the property north of the Dollar General Store for 42 years. Mr. McKinley stated the actions and process of the ZBA will move forward. How the issued came to be is not a mistake. Mr. McKinley stated he did not really want the Dollar General next to his property, but did not want to stop the residents of Avon from having a Dollar General. Mr. McKinley stated the consultant company disrespected Fulton County and the Zoning Board of Appeals regarding the annexation of the property and permits. Mr. McKinley stated he is the Village of Avon’s Treasurer and these are his opinions and public knowledge, and not the opinions of Village of Avon.
In June of 2022, a contract should have been signed on the contingency of the rezoning of the business. Instead Mr. Swanson went to the Village of Avon for the rezoning and annexation. In June of 2022 Avon voted to annex the property for the Dollar General Store but this was contingent on the property being purchased and closed. The property was never recorded. The pin number was never provided to the Village of Avon. Mr. Swanson stated two days prior to the Dollar General opening, Mr. Swanson provided the map and parcel number to the Village of Avon. Mr. McKinley stated his opinion is Dollar General thought to just do this and ask for forgiveness later, and he believes they know what they were doing and just did not do the proper protocol. The biggest concern is the honesty and credibility of the Board of Appeals, and this will set the precedent that Fulton County will not enforce the codes. The ZBA is telling the Zoning Officer the zoning codes do not matter in Fulton County.
Member Clark inquired why Mr. McKinley took so long to contact the Zoning office. Mr. McKinley stated in February or March, the construction really started on the project. Mr. McKinley was aware where the city limits ended on his property.
Member Ackerman inquired if a permit was acquired for the project. Mr. McKinley stated the only permit acquired was for the first site North of Avon, but then the project was moved to the current location.
Mr. Swanson stated the project was based on the approval for the right-of-way from IDOT. Once this was obtained, the other papers would be completed.
Member Clark inquired if Mr. Swanson knew this property was within the County limits. Mr. Swanson stated he was aware it was.
Mr. McKinley stated the ZBA needs to send a message that Zoning permits need to be done properly in Fulton County. There are Zoning Laws that need to be abided by in order to maintain the integrity of Fulton County.
Chairman Phillips asked Supervisor of Assessment Julie Russell to speak on the issue of the Dollar General. Russell stated she is one of the plat officers of Fulton County. Russell stated she and the County Clerk have been working for approximately 2 years to annex the property, and the legal procedures have not followed by the Village of Avon. Russell stated there are statutes to guide entities through the process. Part of the issue is that annexing 1.5 acres of a 148-acre parcel violates the Plat Act of Fulton County. This is due to the easement of access. A piece of property cannot be annexed or split off without first doing a subdivision plat. There is an order of operations. The subdivision plat was not done as Dollar General Partners advised Russell and Emmons the parcel in question was in the Village of Avon. Russell stated the common practice in Illinois is to get the parcel number for the property and the verbiage states Part Of and the original parcel number.
Once it was determined that this parcel was in Fulton County’s jurisdiction, Russell and Emmons met with State’s Attorney Jochums to determine a course of action to remedy this issue. As the Chief County Assessment officer, Russell is aware a building has been constructed. Any assessed value that can add to the tax base is a good thing for Fulton County. The proper order is a Sub-division plat needs completed, no rezoning, the property cannot be annexed and no building permit can be issued until Zoning gives permission to build. The wrong building permit was issued by the wrong authority. Russell stated there was a major lack of communication and she is not sure where this occurred. Fulton County has spent numerous hours trying to rectify this issue.
Member Clark inquired if the Village of Avon knew the property was in Fulton County’s jurisdiction. Russell stated the fact that the Village was trying to annex the property into the Village of Avon likely meant that they knew that it was. Russell stated Avon is not run by a full time board that knows municipal codes, which causes a lot of misunderstandings.
Steve Eathington was sworn into the meeting for testimony. Mr. Eathington is the current owner of the Dollar General property and the property has not been transferred out of Mr. Eathington’ s name within the past 2 weeks. Mr. Eathington is concerned this is a big liability for him if anyone gets hurt in the Dollar General Store or on the property. Steve was informed by the Village of Avon that the Dollar General has not paid their water bill and this makes Mr. Eathington liable for the bill. Mr. Eathington stated he sold the property to get the business for the Village of Avon. Mr. Eathington stated he believes Dollar General needs to pay the fines for not doing the permits and business properly in Fulton County. Steve stated the property was purchased in October and it is now July.
Julie Russell, Supervisor of Assessment, backed up Mr. Eathington’s concern that he is the property owner of this parcel and verified Steve could not sell the property until the sub-division plat was recorded. The deed or conveyance document would be needed to split the property and the property would have been flagged for a sub-division plat act violation.
Chairman Phillips inquired with Mr. Eathington if he has received the conveyance document for payment of the property.
Julie Russell the steps are to do the subdivision plat; rezone the property for commercial use; then obtain the building permit.
Mr. Eathington stated he does not believe Avon knew what Dollar General was doing. The property needed to be sold under contingency, the proper permits would be obtained before building the store.
Chairman Phillips inquired who issued the certificate of occupancy. Mr. Eathington stated a certificate was never issued.
Mr. Swanson discussed that as the consultant to Dollar General Partners, his consulting firm has been working with the Village of Avon for some time on this project and his regret is he did not contact the county to verify all the proper papers had been completed for the project.
Chairman Phillips closed the testimony.
Chairman Phillips stated the project is an asset to Avon and the village did not handle all the paper work properly. Dollar General has worked out issues with both neighbors regarding the property.
Chairman Phillips stated it does not seem right for the ZBA to ask the Fulton County Board to ask for the rezoning on a piece of property that is not controlled by Dollar General. The finding of fact is there are very good benefits by the Dollar General being in Avon. The State of Illinois has granted access to the property, ingress and egress meets state requirements, and conforms to the application requirements of a B District. Chairman Phillips stated this is a public necessity. Phillips stated that if the ZBA votes to rezone the Dollar General, it would have to be contingent on the property being controlled by Dollar General. The other choice is there are a few days before the Fulton County Board meeting, which would allow for the property transfer to be completed and to make a recommendation for the rezoning at a special Zoning Board of Appeals meeting. Members of the committee agreed this cannot be approved without the property having a contingency document to show ownership. Chairman Phillips stated the only contingency to the zoning would be the proof of the land ownership prior to agreeing to the rezoning. Member Fletcher stated he recognizes the benefit to the community, but this has to be balanced by the company that purchased the property and by the ZBA board. Fletcher’s opinion is that all the negative consequence outweigh the benefits to the community. Member Eathington stated she would like to see the deed to the property prior to the approval for the rezoning.
Member Fletcher moved to table the item and have a Special ZBA meeting to approve the rezoning, with a second by Member Clark. Motion carried by voice vote.
- Old Business – None
- Other – None
- Executive Session – None
Member Clark moved to adjourn at 5:28pm with a second by Member Ackerman. Motion carried by voice vote