Utica trustees seek property tax increase

Expressing pride in being a “debt-free community,” Utica trustees set a state-required public “Truth in Taxation” hearing next month to finalize a property tax levy increase for fiscal year April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020.

“Even with the possible nominal increase, Utica will still have the lowest tax rate in the county as we have had in previous years,” said Village President Dave Stewart. 

Trustees did not decide on an estimated property tax rate, but discussions Thursday were centered around a possible increase of less than $10 for a $180,000 house from the previous year.

The public hearing was set for 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, scheduled before a rescheduled village board meeting.

Led by village attorney Herb Klein, the board discussed establishing public comment rules, such as a five-minute limit on comments, to formalize procedures for village meetings.  Trustees decided to vote on such rules at a future time.

Director of Village Affairs Jamie Turczyn showed the trustees a recently produced “Discover Utica, Illinois” video that will be placed on Facebook and other sites online Friday. The video was created by local videographers Matthew Klein and Kyle Petersen to promote village businesses and local recreational opportunities.

Turczyn also reminded the board the annual Veterans Parade, one of the largest in North Central Illinois, will step off on Sunday, Nov. 3, along Route 178 and the village’s main streets.

Stewart was given the board’s permission to sign an acceptance of a development agreement that would transfer obligations from IDI Logistics, LLC to the Carol Aubry Trust with regards to property adjacent to the village’s water tower north of U.S. 6 and east of Route 178. The transfer of ownership would not change any existing agreements for the property that includes an interest by Clark Run, LLC.

Continued hearing on short-term vacation home

Before the board meeting Thursday, Utica Planning Commission members continued a public hearing tabled from Aug. 22 on allowing a special use permit for a short-term vacation home rental via the Airbnb booking site. 

The request, made by Jason and Aron Galvan, would give the couple permission to rent out a small canal house at 310 Towpath Road within Utica’s zoning district and adjacent to the historic Illinois and Michigan Canal.

During the discussion, Jason’s father, Jim Gulvan, of La Salle, presented the commission a letter from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources that stated the agency, which controls the mostly unpaved canal lane, had no objections to the proposed zoning changes and limited use of the towpath access road.

Hearing no objections to the zoning change, commissioners agreed to recommend the special use permit to the village board with the stipulation the owners would have to comply with any future regulations placed on such home sharing businesses. 

Those restrictions could be adopted by trustees at any time with revisions in village’s bed and breakfast and or hotel and motel ordinances. 

Klein said the board will take up the Airbnb permit request for a formal approval vote in the near future.

The property will be managed by the Galvan family who will live on a nearby farm.

Although the village now cuts grass along its portion of the towpath, maintenance and any snow removal on the road, which is restricted to local property owners, remain the responsibility of the IDNR.

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