Urbana agrees to provide utilities to new school

By Joshua Keeran - [email protected]

The Urbana City Schools Board of Education’s request to have city utility services made available to the district’s new pre-kindergarten through eighth grade school building being built just outside city limits on South U.S. Route 68 was approved by City Council on Tuesday.

Presented in the form of two resolutions – one for sewer tap-in and the other for water tap-in – council agreed to waive the three-readings rule and passed both on first readings.

“We have, over the last several months, reviewed all plans related to both the water and sewer for the project,” said Community Development Manager Doug Crabill.

While the water tap-in will go by the book, Crabill said, the sewer tap-in is more unconventional.

The current sanitary sewer main in the area is a mix of a force main and gravity main. The school, Crabill said, is interested in one uniform main.

“Basically, the school is going to construct a gravity sewer main from approximately its drive back north to state Route 55,” he said.

Considering development that could spring up on the south end of Urbana, Crabill told council plans are in the works that would allow the city to expand its sanitary sewer capacity by altering the school district’s plan by increasing the diameter of its proposed 8-inch sewer main to a 12-inch main, which would require the pipe to be buried at a greater depth. The additional charges would be covered by the city.

“Our plan is to work with the school through a memorandum of understanding on the pipe size and depth, because in the long term, it’s going to benefit the city by having more capacity on the south end of town for sanitary sewer,” Crabill said.

Along with approving the water and sewer tap-ins, the approved resolutions require the school board to file for an annexation petition within 60 days of the issuance of a new sewer connection permit.

Managing traffic on south side

With construction underway on not only the new school on South U.S. Route 68, but also on a new Navistar warehouse on Phoenix Drive, council approved a Board of Control request to pay Security Fence Group Inc. $6,574.03 for a traffic signal upgrade at the intersection of U.S. Route 68 and state Route 55.

City Engineer Tyler Bumbalough said the need to address traffic control at the intersection was brought about following the completion of traffic studies centered around both construction projects. The studies concluded the left-hand turn lane from U.S. Route 68 northbound to state Route 55 is not functioning as it should.

As part of the upgrade, the current 3-head traffic signal (green, yellow and red lights) will be replaced with a 5-head signal that will include two left arrow lights (green and yellow). In addition, a detector will be installed in the roadway that will prevent the turn arrows from being activated when no traffic is waiting in the turn lane.

“Originally, (the upgrade) was scheduled for next year,” Bumbalough said. “We decided to advance it a year because these things (new school and warehouse) are coming, and also because of the construction traffic. Semis are already having a hard time making a left-hand turn as they are coming from Springfield.”

In other business:

•Council heard the first reading of an ordinance seeking to amend the city’s official zoning map by rezoning a 1.023-acre parcel on Lippincott Lane (Subarea C of the Urbana Commons Planned Unit Development) from fuel station use only to principal uses allowed in the B-2 General Business District.

The parcel in question is an outlot located on the western boundary of the Walmart development that was originally designated to be the future site of a Walmart fuel station.

•The city’s Water Division will be receiving a new 2017 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck after council approved the purchase at a cost of $19,746 from White’s Auto Group.

Brugger said the truck will replace the division’s early 2000s Ford Escape, which was towed recently due to a transmission issue.

•Council passed on first reading a resolution authorizing the transfer of a Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) agreement involving the former Interstate Truckers property at 668 state Route 55 from the current owner to the next potential owner of the site.

“By keeping the abatement, it will make (the property) easier to get rid of,” council member Eugene Fields said.

Champaign Economic Partnership Executive Director Marcia Bailey said the CRA agreement is a 100 percent tax abatement through 2019 on the current structure only that occupies a portion of the 10-acre property.

She added the facility is currently vacant, but an undisclosed company has expressed interest in purchasing the property.

By Joshua Keeran

[email protected]

Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.

Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.