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Council OKs Subway development deal in Sterling

Developer says process took too long

Published: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

STERLING – The City Council approved a development agreement for a proposed Subway restaurant at Monday’s meeting, but local developer Pete Harkness was there to voice his displeasure over the process.

The council, missing three of its six aldermen, voted for the agreement and site plan for an ordinance to vacate a right of way that had once been known as Reins Street.

Subway franchise owner Dan Sigwards wanted the area for use as an entrance for the new store at 1901 Locust. Sigwards operates the Subway at 2210 N. Locust, but found out last year that his lease there would not be renewed.

The request was made last April by Dan Sigwards, Katherine Sigwards and Harkness Properties LLC. The new site will be on four lots owned by Harkness.

Harkness spoke to the council, expressing his frustration with how long it took to get the agreement for the project in place.

“The city knew of this project one year ago,” Harkness said. “We filed the petition last April, and on Sept. 3, they finally agreed to vacate. Then it took almost 4 months to complete a simple development agreement.”

The request had been put before the council for a vote last July, but a vote was delayed because more information from the developer had been requested.

At the time, the city had voiced safety concerns, because a Subway would generate more traffic than the two homes and an abandoned motorcycle business that were in that spot.

The Plan Commission had approved vacating the right of way last May 16, but that was before the developers said they wanted a separate north-side entrance to the store.

The Illinois Department of Transportation engineers approved the new entrance on the condition that the city vacate the Reins area. The engineers and some city officials preferred the earlier plan because of the safety concerns.

Harkness said Sigwards’ lease is up in May, and he will suffer because of the city’s delay.

“He spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to hit the city’s targets,” Harkness said. “It hurts me to say this, but we shouldn’t be surprised if businesses don’t want to develop here.”

Part of the problem with the request was the number of people involved, Mayor Skip Lee said.

“I agree it probably took longer than it should have, but the more people that are involved, the longer it takes,” he said.

In other action, the council approved a bid from Twin City Construction for a road reconstruction project on Fifth Avenue from Lefevre to Miller roads. The low bid of $490,409.93 came in about 3 percent under the engineer’s estimate.

The city opted for the concrete material instead of hot-mix asphalt, which was about $50,000 cheaper. The city engineer recommended the concrete because it is projected to last about 50 years, while the asphalt would last about 20 years. Durability was a bigger consideration because of all the school bus traffic on the street.

Also, the budget hearing will be held during the next regular council meeting on April 21.

Next meeting

The Sterling City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. April 21 at City Hall, 212 Third Ave., on the first floor in the Council Chambers. The budget hearing will also be held at this time.

Go to www.ci.sterling.il.us/ or call City Hall at 815-632-6621 for an agenda or more information.

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