STERLING – The City Council on Monday approved a Sterling man's petition to extend a special use permit for his proposed sports complex.
The request from former Newman baseball coach Larry Ybarra had received unanimous backing from the city's planning commission on Dec. 19. Ybarra now has the special use zoning designation through Dec. 31.
Ybarra has obtained about 22 of the 45 acres he wanted for the $8 million project. He has an option for an additional 45 acres in the same area – at the northwest corner of Oak Grove Avenue and 23rd Street, off Lynn Boulevard.
Ybarra said he needed the extension to give him more time to find investors for the privately funded project. Ybarra said he was advised to raise about 35 percent of the money through private investors and finance the rest.
During the planning commission meeting in December, Ybarra had outlined some of his tourism projections.
"Sanctioned softball tournaments could draw 8,000 to 15,000 people on weekends," he said. "I feel this is the right thing to do for our area," Ybarra said. "I envision hotels, restaurants, and increased tax revenues."
The council passed the petition as part of its consent agenda. Before it was approved, Alderman John Stauter voiced some concerns about another extension of the zoning arrangement.
"There are residents out there that are against this," Stauter said. "I would hope he does something with it this year; this is our third go-around with this extension."
"They'll have their opportunities to express their views on it later," Alderman Joe Martin said.
Some residents have voiced concerns to aldermen about lighting and traffic issues the complex could raise in the neighborhood.
The council originally approved the annexation agreement and R-1 special use permit for the land on April 16, 2012. That agreement called for construction of the complex to begin within one calendar year of the pact. The council extended the agreement for 6 months on May 6, 2013.
In other matters Monday, City Administrator Scott Shumard said a road project is planned for this summer near Sterling High School. The work will be done on Fifth Avenue between LeFevre and Miller roads. Included will be street resurfacing, new sidewalks, curb and gutters, crosswalks, additional lighting, and some reconfiguration of parking alignments.
"It will be about a $500,000 project," Shumard said. "The school district will help out with lighting costs, and the rest is all normal city street funding."
Bids for the project are expected to be taken in March.
The Sterling City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 3 at City Hall, 212 Third Ave., on the first floor in the Council Chambers.
Go to www.ci.sterling.il.us/ or call City Hall at 815-632-6621 for an agenda or more information.