By: Diane Benjamin
During the Pledge of Allegiance – the sign is courtesy of Chemberly Cummings:
The meeting began with comments from Janessa Williams, chairperson of the Human Relations Board of Normal. She did denounce the violence.
The part of the meeting that should outrage citizens was the selling of the property on Ft. Jesse. Everyone voted for the sale except Stan Nord.
- One of the neighboring property owners had talked to the Town a few years ago about buying it, Normal did not tell him they wanted to sell it now.
- A sign was never erected on the property to advertise the Town was taking bids
- Only one bid was received. We do not know where it was advertised, probably the Normalite
- That one bid was from the spouse of a Town of Normal employee.
- The property was sold for far less than the adjacent property assessed value. That property has less buildable area because of the flood plain.
This picture is from the County GIS system. I outlined the property that sold in black because the yellow lines were hard to see. The adjacent property assessed at a total value of $177,000 is in blue.
The two PIN numbers involved are #14-224-760-16 and #14-224-760-15
The lady who bought the property has no conditions. She can hold the property or resell it at anytime. The last time Normal tried to unload this property it came with so many strings the buyer sold the property back to Normal because he could not make the numbers work with what he wanted to build.
The first thing that is going to happen is the owner of the adjacent property is going to file to get his assessment reduced. That could set off a chain of properties devalued because of this sale.
One more note: Kevin McCarthy and Chemberly Cummings did not know the Town has been paying property taxes on this property. Both promoted the sale so they could start collecting property taxes. They already were collecting, just money they paid.
The optics are beyond terrible. At this same meeting the International City/County Manager’s Association was paid so Pam Reece could be a member:
The ICMA has a code of ethics: https://icma.org/sites/default/files/ICMA%20Code%20of%20Ethics%20%28October%202019%29.pdf
Was selling this property for $25,000 without a new written appraisal or notifying area property owners in “the best interests of the people”? Were the “anticipated effects” of plunging property values because of this sale disclosed to citizens and Council? Did the public have the ability to “actively engage”?
In Normal citizens can never actively engage on non-agenda items because of Normal’s illegal Public Comment policy. It appears the Attorney General’s office is never going to rule on this simple item, two reviews have been filed – both are getting moldy with age: https://blnnews.com/2019/09/05/normals-illegal-public-comment-policy-2/
People wanting to be heard are rallying and marching. Meanwhile the citizens of Normal have no right to be heard. The majority of the Council doesn’t care about that.
In other business – Uptown Normal businesses were provide picnic tables and concrete barriers for free. Businesses not in Uptown get nothing.
The roads into Uptown were also blocked last night to prevent looting. Businesses everywhere else were on their own. In Peoria armed citizens protected their businesses.
The north Normal warehouse TIF project was approved. Even though some Council members implied Stan Nord was against it, what he wanted was actual numbers to show citizens what the benefits will be to them. There are none, just a statement saying 50 jobs will be created. This project is better than most because the developer won’t get any money unless the value of the property is increased. Some Council members claimed schools benefit from TIF’s. I might have more on that one later. TIF’s by definition divert increased property value tax revenue from other taxing bodies.