STERLING – Sterling still has a chance to get a Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches location, but time may be running out.
Liandro “Li” Arellano of Dixon addressed the City Council Monday night and expressed frustration with the city code, which he said would require him to spend $50,000 to meet design standards.
He said he’s been working with the city for about 6 months and has had several plans, and several revisions, denied. Arellano said he wished the City Council was more accommodating to local small business owners, who don’t have access to the up-front capital larger companies do.
Arellano said he’s interested in the former Auto Store, 2402 E. Lincolnway, across the street from Arthur’s Garden Deli and near McDonald’s and Subway.
“The property is pretty much all asphalt, doesn’t allow for any runoff,” Building and Zoning Superintendent Amanda Schmidt said. “[He] wants to put a new building in. When you’re putting a new building in, you have to abide by our design standards.”
The design standards were adopted in 2008, and were approved with appearance and runoff, among other elements, in mind, she said.
The design standards, several members of the City Council said, are to ensure desirable aesthetic development in the city.
“Tonight is the first time I’ve heard this from Li, but he’s not the first businessman I’ve heard this from,” Ward 2 Alderman Barry Cox said. “The comment I hear a lot is: If it’s a local businessman trying to open a business, it seems as though we throw a lot of roadblocks up, and when large corporations come in, we bend over and say, ‘How can we help you?’”
Ward 4 Alderman Joe Martin suggested the City Council and Greater Sterling Development Corp. look into a small businesses incentive program to help with costs associated with opening new businesses.
Arellano’s Dixon Jimmy John’s, he said, celebrated its 5-year anniversary May 28.
“I haven’t pulled the plug,” he said. “There are still some options open.”
The Sterling City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 5.
Go to www.sterling-il.gov or call City Hall at 815-632-6621 for an agenda or more information.