Ottawa Planning Commission Hearing on April 1


Things have been quite busy over here in Sierra-land. Please join us April 1, 7pm, in the Council City Chambers in the City of Ottawa (301 W Madison St, Ottawa, IL).

The Ottawa Planning Commission will be meeting to decide whether to add “silica sand shipping” into the “R” Rural conditional use permit language. This is significant and related to the Starved Rock mine, since it will ultimately determine where Mississippi Sand will truck their sand to be shipped out of the area.

I would urge all who are able to attend, this is our chance to get concerns related to increased dust and traffic on the record.

Just a quick update on what has been going on in the past few months:

January 7, 2013: The Ottawa Planning Commission holds a special meeting where they recommend (to the City Council) to add a new conditional use for shipping sand under “R” Rural Zoning.

 January 15: The City Council votes to adopt the change in the zoning ordinance recommended by the Planning Commission.

January 28: The Planning Commission met with an Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) representative. ADM hopes to use their facility off Route 71 as the sand shipping terminal for the Mississippi Sand Mine, and was seeking 1) Annexation (into Ottawa) and zoning of three parcels east of the city to the new “R” rural, and 2) A conditional use to use the parcels for barge fleeting and shipping sand.  The Planning Commission tabled the requests after the lawyer for one adjacent landowner testified that proper notice had not been given for the hearing to proceed.

Jan 28-March 4: ADM decides to restart the whole process of their request; this time posting proper notice.

March 4: The Planning Commission again meets with ADM representatives. After several hours of public comments, the PC tables their annexation vote for April 1. Earlier that same day, a lawsuit against the City was filed, citing a violation of the Open Meetings Act for the January 7 and 15th actions the Planning Commission took.

March 14: The Planning Commission cancels their April 1 annexation vote, and notifies affected parties.

March 15: Advertisements in the paper show there is a new meeting April 1, 2013 at 7 pm in which the Planning Commission will meet in special session for the purpose of conducting a public hearing on a proposed amendment to Section 10B of the City of Ottawa Zoning Ordinance (“R” Rural Conditional Use”). The proposed amendment would add as a conditional the following:

“Barge Fleeting operations for trans-loading and hauling of grain, sand, including silica sand, gravel or other non-hazardous granular products, and using equipment buildings and/or silos for storage and shipping of such for market, but not including manufacturing”

In essence, it is the same discussion that was held on January 7. It is likely the City felt they had violated the Open Meetings Act, and so to avoid further legal action they have advised ADM to withdraw their request for now. From a legal vantage point, everything in terms of the rules and regulations has returned to pre-January 7 decisions, hence the need to repeat the Jan 7 discussion.

April 1: The Planning Commission will hold their meeting/public hearing to discuss this advertised issue, April 1, 7pm, in the Council City Chambers in the City of Ottawa (301 W Madison St, Ottawa, IL).

I would again encourage all who can to attend. If silica sand shipping is not added to “R” rural special use, then ADM will not be able to move forward with their request to ship the Mississippi Sand mine’s sand at this location.