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Posted: 12/18/13

Village trustees mull
property gift and uses

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      With Christmas around the corner, it seemed fitting that the Village Board of Trustees called Bill Parker "Father Christmas" as he entered the meeting room on Dec. 16.
       The moniker was perhaps a reference to the fact that the property owner informed them of his plans to give privately-owned land located in the southwest quadrant to the village.
       The board plans to review a resolution before them regarding the gift at the Jan. 13 meeting.
       Parker, along with four others, owns a 95-foot by 90-foot portion of land in the municipal parking lot that is bordered by S Rawles Street and W Lafayette Street. Parker serves as general manager for the partnership between the owners.
       Village Clerk Marian McLaughlin said an unwritten agreement between the village and Parker is that the tenants in businesses along Main Street can park in the lot overnight without penalty. If someone abuses the privilege, such as letting a junk car remain on the lot, Parker would give permission to remove it.
       Parker, who bought the property prior to 1983, said he may not be around for another 30 years, so the simplest idea to keep the agreement going was to give the property to the village. He said this would allow the village to go after any abusers instead of seeking permission.
       "We could wind down the partnership and we would be done with it," he said.
       Parker said there would be conditions attached to the gift, saying the lot would revert back to the partnership if it would no longer be used for parking. Village Attorney Mark Clark said if Parker and his partners wished to provide a gift with conditions to the village they could do so, but the village can't be forced to accept the gift.
       "It's do-able if both sides agree on the terms and any conditions that might be attended to it," Clark said.
       The board recommended that Parker meet with Clark to create a resolution it could look at during its January meeting.
       Property uses
       Village trustees discussed property that it currently owns and how to use it, such as placing buildings like the former WBRW cable studio on Morton Street and an empty fire hall on the market.
       Village President Mike Lee said someone approached the village to use the building for a quilting business, but noted this wouldn't be allowed due to the zoning.
       Trustees suggested the studio, along with the fire hall on S Rawles Street and vacant village-owned land, be put on the market to determine their values and possibly obtain revenue from the sales.
       "Even if it's just to establish a value to establish a rent, things like that, it's just a number that'd be good to know," said Trustee Matt Edwards.
       The former studio is within single family residential zoning. Permitted uses include licensed residential care for no more than six persons, family day care for no more than six persons and municipal buildings. Special land uses can be acquired for bed and breakfasts, churches, public and private schools, group day-care and recreational facilities. The fire hall is in a commercial zone.
       The studio was leased for $1 a year prior to cable operations moving to Wicker Street in Washington Township.


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