(Heartland Newsfeed) — Prior to the regular session of the Wenonah Village Board on Tuesday, October 17, a public hearing was held regarding a proposed ordinance vacating Jefferson and Washington streets from Idaho St. to N. 22nd
Ave., all alleyways running north and south between the village streets and Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Ohio, Iowa, Indiana and Illinois streets from Washington St. to the Nokomis-Taylorville Blacktop/Taylorville Rd.
Frank Anderson and Eric Brown, representatives of Hanson Material Service (a division of the Heidelberg Cement Group out of Texas), were in attendance to discuss with the board requiring the acquisition properties and eventual closure and vacating of all properties and streets in the ordinance.
Due to businesses owned Leland Dewerff and John Bauman, interim Village President Jeffrey Sanders explained to Anderson and Brown that they currently cannot legally vacate the roads, which are currently utilized by the businesses. Also mentioned was a request for compensation for any cash rent monies the village is owed for land that has been farmed over the past 13 years, mentioning they are potentially willing to negotiate and settle on an amount that’s fair to both parties.
As part of the proposal, Hanson is trying to acquire properties owned by Randy Dollins and Donald Cravens and is seeking to lease the property from Dewerff and Bauman. Should Hanson be unable to purchase and lease the four properties, they would still seek vacating the roads already attached to the property they already own.
Prior to the meeting, neither Anderson nor Brown knew any additional information regarding the acquisition process of the properties other than what Heidelberg Cement Group’s Lehigh Hanson subsidiary was telling them. Both were under the assumption that the Dollins and Cravens properties were in the final phases of the acquisition process and that the process had begun with Dewerff and Bauman.
Public comments from Dewerff cited history of the area that was farmed out 13 years ago and a clear miscommunication between Hanson and the property owners. He doesn’t think it’s right to lease out the property only for them to dictate what he can and cannot do with his property. Anderson noted that Dewerff will still be able to use his property as he sees fit, but added that they are doing their part to be compliant with a state mandate regarding mining setback requirements. Regarding the Dollins property, Anderson and Brown were under the understanding that the deal was final, but according to Dewerff’s discussion with Dollins, it’s nowhere close to deal. The Cravens deal was also considered a done deal.
After some additional questions and discussion, the public hearing closed at 7:21 p.m., with the regular meeting starting at 7:24 p.m.
Following approval of the meeting minutes from the September meeting and the treasurer’s report, following newly discovered information in the public hearing, further discussion on vacating streets based on the proposed ordinance has been tabled until the next meeting.
The board motioned to go into executive session with village attorney Trent West at 7:31 p.m., with the only business being related to the sale of real estate and financial implications related to the proposed ordinance as well as the land that is already farmed out. Any executive actions by the board were tabled due to the absence of Village Trustee Richard Waggoner and would return to regular session at 7:39 p.m.
In new business, resident Twila Presnell inquired on why Sanders can break ordinances but no one else can. In one incident, Sanders had let his dog off the leash and it resulted in one of her cats being killed. She had spoken with Montgomery County Animal Control and has warned that in the case of any other incidents would result in a fine from the county.
Presnell added that four-wheelers trespassing on her property and on other properties, out on the streets late at night, driving dangerously and excessively fast and not slowing down at village intersections. Due to the hazards presented, some residents are unable to drive down village streets due to dangerous conditions. She once again requested that posts be placed along corners of the ditches because vehicles and ATVs wearing them down. Resident Steve Oltmanns, who was in attendance, noted that there were no ordinances on file with the county from the last time he checked. Sanders noted that Glenn & West are working on their ordinances. Further discussion on the issue was tabled until the next meeting.
With no additional business up for discussion, the board adjourned at 8:00 p.m., set to reconvene Tuesday, November 21 at 7 p.m. In attendance were interim Village President Jeffrey Sanders, Village Secretary/Treasurer Brianna Coss and Village Trustees Tammy Waggoner, Karla Oltmanns and Matt Bolyard. Village Trustee Richard Waggoner arrived later in the meeting. Members of the community present were Steve Oltmanns, Twila Presnell, Brian Wanger and Leland Dewerff.
A version of this article will be published in Wednesday’s issue of the Free Press-Progress.