By: Diane Benjamin
Last Wednesday Normal passed ordinances limiting gatherings to 10 or fewer people within the ISU campus area and additional bar and restaurant social distancing restrictions. This was in response to the skyrocketing infection rate of COVID in the campus and Uptown area.
Town hall is located near the epicenter of the outbreak area. No in-person Council meetings have happened and the Mayor declares at every meeting it is not safe to meet in person. The Town is keeping the Council meetings virtual.
The “professional staff” wants to settle the One Normal Plaza zoning change fast. There are many long term residents who oppose the Town’s plan in the zoning changes to make ONP a alcoholic drinking destination. Many of the opponents are older or have health concerns which put them in the highest risk demographic to die from COVID.
Here is the hypocrisy: The residents want an in-person meeting – when it’s safe. The Town scheduled the Zoning meeting to happen next week. They made it in-person that will require those who have concerns about ONP to attend in person. The older folks and health compromised must choose to go to the Town Hall and speak or stay away from the “highly contagious and deadly” (to them) virus outbreak area. We know Normal despises citizens who oppose their “master plans” but this is a ridiculous way keep the voices of decent from speaking.
The Town has told them there is no rush to push this through. There are no businesses or residents who are listed as applicants wanting the changes. The Town Manager says this is something the Council wants done. Council didn’t start the process, the “professional staff” did.
Residents of Normal should ask the Mayor, Town Manager, and Council why it is so important to make ONP a drinking destination and why they want to put their citizens at risk to get the zoning changed!
The answer is likely because Julie Hile and Bob Broad are Koos pals. They own Normandy Village which one of the business parks inside of ONP. Koos has appointed them to Town boards, Julie to Connect Transit and Bob to the Zoning board. Julie Hile is also a paid transportation consultant to the Town and County. One would think this is a conflict and a no-no, but the appearance of corruption among Koos allies hasn’t stopped anyone before. It appears the Hile-Broads are behind the alcohol in the park request debacle. Instead of them transparently making the zoning change request for their property, they have the Town staff doing it for them and thus taxpayers paying for it.
Enter JB to the rescue. Shortly after the Town staff frustrated the residents with suddenly scheduling an in-person meeting during a severe outbreak, the Town pushed One Normal Plaza zoning to next month. Instead of saying it was out of concern for the health and safety of the concerned residents they said it was because JB identifies McLean County as an area with rising infection numbers.
In typical Normal fashion, JB got the blame instead of the “professional staff”.
The question still is: What’s the RUSH Normal?
What aren’t citizens being told?