Tri States Public Radio Staff
Tue March 16, 2010
Macomb Aldermen Change Zoning Definition
Macomb, IL – A much debated revision to Macomb's zoning ordinance was narrowly approved by the city council.
The change is to the definition concerning single family housing. The new definition allows a health care or child care professional to live with a family. It also allows families to host foreign exchange students from Macomb School District 185.
Alderman At Large Dennis Moon opposed the changes, saying there have been no complaints under the current system.
"I think it's unfortunate we've had to go through this ordeal to, in some people's perception, correct something that probably didn't need to be corrected," said Moon before the vote during the city council's March 15 meeting.
The discussion over the matter lasted more than half-an-hour. The issue has also been the subject of lengthy debate during earlier city council and planning commission meetings.
The final tally was four-to-three. Aldermen Lou Gilbert, Clay Hinderliter, Ed Lavin, and Don Wynn voted in favor of the revision. Aldermen Dave Dorsett, Tim Lobdell, and Moon opposed it.
Aldermen Ryan Hansen and Mike Inman were absent from the meeting.
Lavin tried to amend the definition to include changes proposed by Western Illinois University, but he made the move after there was a call for a vote. Thus, the amendment was not considered.
WIU wanted its international students to be included in the definition. Associate Provost Ken Hawkinson said there are generally no more than five to ten international students per semester who ask to live with host families, but allowing the possibility could prove to be an important recruitment tool.
"(It would show) the openness of the Macomb community and the willingness of its residents to open their homes to students who may visit us from another country," said Hawkinson. "The impact on the neighborhoods would be small but the impact on the individual lives of each high school and college student would be great."
Hawkinson told aldermen he was a foreign exchange student in Finland and said the experience changed his life.
Planning commission member Kathy Balderson - who said she was not speaking on behalf of the commission - urged aldermen to send the issue back to the group.
"We've already hashed it over a couple times," said Balderson. "I think we understand the issues here and we can spend some time on it."
But with their vote, aldermen decided to take care of the matter themselves.