Council hears opinions
for, against rezoning

[AUG. 30, 2000]  The Lincoln City Council heard arguments at the Tuesday evening work session both for and against rezoning the property at 404-416 Woodlawn Road, east of the Kroger store, to allow the construction of an auto parts business. The Plan Commission has already rejected the petition for rezoning the properties from R-2 residential to C-1 commercial, but the final decision will be up to the council.

The property, owned by Don and Marilyn Buelter, consists of a garage-type building used for storage and a house that has been damaged by fire. The proposed use is a 6,080-square-foot auto parts store with 27 parking spaces. The developer of the property has asked that his identity remain confidential.

Gary Johnston, who lives on the corner of Woodlawn and Palmer, asked the council not to rezone the property because of safety hazards. He said he had no information on the number of accidents at that site but called the traffic "horrendous."

 

"School children come down Elm Street," he told the council. He suggested that council members "sit there from 4 to 6 p.m." and then decide how important the safety issue is.

Julian Johnson, who lives across the street from the proposed development, said he was also against changing the zoning, because of traffic congestion. "Traffic on Woodlawn is terrific, and a new store would make it worse."

He noted that the shrubbery was untrimmed and the condition of the site was "the worst Iíve ever seen it."

Frances Kendrick, who lives across the street and said she had just celebrated her 85th birthday, also asked the council not to change the zoning, because of the traffic.

Marilyn Buelter, who with her husband, Don, owns the property, said the prospective developer came to her and "didnít ask for a tax abatement or an enterprise zone." She said the developer is interested in the property because of the high volume of cars going by on the combined state routes 10 and 121.

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Realtor Dan Boch spoke of "internal growth, new uses for older properties," and said that with the zoning changes, the taxes paid to the city would increase $16,200 from the present $2,509. He said statistics show 17,800 vehicles pass the site each day.

Alderman Benny Huskins said he believed the council should take the recommendation of the Plan Commission and reject the zoning request. City Attorney Jonathan Wright pointed out that the council would need a two-thirds vote, that of seven members, to rezone against the Plan Commissionís recommendation.

 

Huskins also said he thought it was "only fair to know who is going to be building there." Boch replied that the developer had asked for confidentiality. Mayor Joan Ritter said that in her meeting with the developer, he had stipulated that he would build an auto parts store.

Alderman Patrick Madigan said he believed the opinion of the current residents was important. "I live one and one-half blocks from the area. I would like the council to give some thought to the safety factors and the people in the area."

In other business, the council discussed postponing the proposed road improvement on Wyatt Avenue until the school year is over, because of the traffic problems that would result.

 

The council also heard an opinion from City Attorney Wright that there is no conflict of interest for Alderman Steve Fuhrer in voting on a liquor license ordinance. A letter from Lester C. Van Bibber III, of Citizens for Justice, Inc., requested that Fuhrer not discuss or vote on liquor license issues because his wife is owner of the Blue Dog Inn, which has a city liquor license.

Wright pointed out that Fuhrer is not an owner of the establishment and "the simple fact of marriage" to the owner does not constitute a conflict of interest.

[Joan Crabb]


Birds bring problems
to Mayfair residents

[AUG. 30, 2000]  Although many people try to attract birds to their yards, some residents of Mayfair are trying to do just the opposite ó find a way to get rid of them. This group would like to have a city ordinance revised so they can legally use a noise-making device called a "bird-banger" to chase away large flocks of grackles and starlings that roost in their trees.

The birds, which come in flocks of hundreds, even thousands, according to the Mayfair residents, are not only a nuisance but a health hazard. Patricia Birk of 160 Eaton Drive told the Lincoln City Council at its work session Tuesday evening that she fears her husband, who is being treated for a severe pulmonary condition, may become infected with histoplasmosis, a viral lung disease sometimes spread by birds.


 

She introduced Brendon Bacon, a Lincoln boy who has recently had the disease, and his mother, Stacey, who also addressed the council. Brendon does not reside in Mayfair but visits grandparents who live there.

Birk also spoke about the nuisance caused by the roosting flocks. "Three years ago my back yard was so bad I couldnít take a step without walking on bird droppings and feathers." To frighten the birds away, she said, "I stood outside for hours banging two-by-fours together."

She said bird droppings had ruined the paint on cars parked in the streets, and the odor was so pervasive people could not sit outside.

 

Several sources, including the Illinois Department of Public Health, recommended the use of the bird-banger, a pistol-like device which shoots a cartridge into a tree full of roosting birds. The cartridge does not kill or injure the birds, but frightens them by exploding with a loud noise, Birk explained.

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The noise, however, has brought complaints from nearby residents who say it disturbs them and their pets. After responding to these complaints, Police Chief Richard Ludolph told the Mayfair residents that the device violated the city noise ordinance and suggested they talk to their aldermen, Joseph Stone and Michael Montcalm.

 

The officers who came out as a result of the complaints were "very professional," Birk added.

"We just want you to let us use the effective means we have," Birk told the council. "If you want to make us get permits, thatís fine." She presented the council a petition with the signatures of 86 Mayfair residents and a note from her husbandís pulmonary specialist.

Chief Ludolph said he has visited the Mayfair area and agrees the residents have a legitimate problem with the roosting birds. However, he also noted that the bird-bangers are very loud, and shooting 10 or 15 of the devices could be disturbing to people and pets.

"It is a difficult problem," he told the council. One solution might be assigning specific times when it would be legal to use the devices.

 

Alderman Montcalm said he believed the health issue should outweigh the noise problem and asked that the ordinance be amended quickly so the council could vote on it at the next meeting Sept. 5. The committee agreed to meet at 6 p.m. on Sept. 5, before the regular board meeting, to discuss the ordinance change.

"Iíd like to see it moved on quickly," Alderman Stone said. "The birds are there now."

[Joan Crabb]