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Council action allows church to move forward with moving plans

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

The Vandalia City Council approved a resolution on Monday that allows a local church to move forward with its attempt to relocate in the former home of Rural King.
The council approved a change in the city’s zoning ordinance that allows places of worship to locate in a general commercial or light industrial district.
The zoning amendment stipulates that the place of worship must be located on a site that is at least 2 acres, and that structural improvements cannot be made within 50 feet of property line.
Because of this action, First Assembly of God can now file with the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustments a request for a special use permit.
If granted that permit, the church can move into the building at 1616 Veterans Ave. Rural King officials donated that building to the congregation after moving into the former Orgill building at 1410 Veterans Ave.
The council approved the zoning ordinance change, which was recommended by the Vandalia Planning Commission in January, two months after it voted 6-2 to reject a request to add places of worship as a permitted use on land bearing a general commercial designation.
Also at Monday’s meeting:
• The council voted to terminate a agreement with the state through which the city received a $1.507-million grant for road and infrastructure improvements on the city’s west side.
The city planned to use the grant – which included $1,420,678 in state monies and a local match of $86,322 – for improvements related to the construction of an ethanol plant on 120 acres of land owned by the city.
Mayor Rick Gottman said the council’s action allows the monies set aside for the local match to be put back into the city coffer’s for other uses.
• The council voted to apply for grant funds for a study that would determine the economic impact on Vandalia and Fayette County should this area be selected for carbon dioxide storage through the FutureGen 2.0 project.
The city will be seeking a $10,000 grant, and Gottman emphasized that no city funds would be used for the economic impact study.
The council also approved a resolution stipulating that if it enters into an agreement with a college or university for an economic impact study, it would not be required to pay a 10-percent upcharge to the college or university.
Martin Culik, senior project manager of Willow Grove Carbon Solutions, said a Southern Illinois University professor, has already begun working on the impact study. Willow Grove Carbon Solutions is leading the effort to have carbon dioxide stored in the Loudon Oil Field north of St. Elmo.
• The council approved an identification protection policy, to ensure that the city complies with the state’s Identity Protection Act.
Under the policy, all city employees who have access to Social Security numbers of residents in performing their duties are required to complete training on protecting the confidentiality of those numbers.
It also spells out how those numbers are to be protected from viewing by individuals requesting public records.
• Gottman and Alderman Bret Brosman, chairman of the council’s streets committee, praised Public Works Director John Moyer and his staff for clearing city streets after last week’s winter storms.
• Alderman Jerry Swarm, chairman of the council’s public safety committee, announced that patrolman Jason Caraway had resigned from the police department to take a similar position in Effingham.
Gottman said that as part of the city’s efforts to cut costs, it will not fill that patrolman vacancy in the near future.
With Caraway’s resignation, the department now has 12 officers, including Chief Larry Eason and Judd Newcomb, who is currently away on military duty.
• The board approved the minutes of the Vandalia Zoning Board of Adjustment’s Jan. 26 meeting.
At that meeting, the board approved in a 4-1 vote a special use permit that allows a place of worship to gather in a commercial building in the downtown business district.
Kay Johnson made the request for the permit, so that she could rent a building at 504 W. Gallatin St. to the Mormon Church.
Voting to approve the permit request were board members Melissa Depew, Jimmie Bowen, Russell Hewitt and Ron Robinson. Dave Hall, who is the pastor at another church, abstained, and Jerry Seaton voted no, voicing concerns about parking and the fact that the board would be setting a precedent on places of worship being allowed in the downtown commercial district.
The council approved the minutes in the 6-1 vote, with Swarm casting the lone dissenting vote.
The council agreed to pay Municipal Code Corp. of Tallahassee, Fla., $2,798 for updating the city’s ordinance book.
The council voted to publish a bid notice for a cash rent farm lease for 120 acres of property that the city owns on West Main Street.
• The council accepted a request from Roger and Betty Roe for a Class E liquor license. The Roes plan to open Old Capitol View Restaurant and Lounge at the northwest corner of Fourth and Gallatin streets in March.
The council is scheduled to vote on adding a Class E liquor license at its Feb. 21 meeting.
If that action is approved, Gottman, as the city’s liquor commissioner, will act on the Roe’s request for a liquor license.
• The council approved an advertising contract with The Leader-Union for legal notices that are published as required by state law.