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Potential annexation deal moves forward in Marengo

MARENGO – The Marengo zoning commission Thursday approved at least one zoning change that clears the way for a sand and gravel miner to enter city limits, amid questions from city residents and Riley Township officials.

The commission presided over four public hearings, multiple zoning requests and one amendment to the city’s zoning code, as the city attempts to annex land southwest along Route 23 through Riley to entice the Illinois Tollway Authority to develop an interchange at Interstate 90.

Zoning Vice Chairman Chester Mazurkiewicz warned the City Council to weigh public concern on the expansion effort carefully before casting final votes Monday.

The commission then endorsed, 4-0, a special use zoning change that allows VCNA Prairie to continue its mining operation under a less restrictive Marengo manufacturing classification within its 253 acres west of Route 23.

“There is a lot of concern about big transitions happening in our area,” said Mazurkiewicz, who is running for 2nd Ward alderman in April. “… The City Council has a lot of work ahead of them to look at the questions brought up tonight.”

In a nearly 90-minute public hearing before the vote, Marengo residents and Riley Township officials questioned city staff and VCNA Prairie representatives about future land uses, tax incentives and the nature of negotiations.

Afterwards, City Manager Gary Boden announced that the City Council likely will not vote Monday on the deal with VCNA Prairie to allow for more negotiation.

Dennis Clark, land manager for VCNA Prairie, had alluded beforehand that the company still had reservations, predicated on the interchange, about annexing into the city.

Some of the 20 or so people in attendance Thursday started to murmur after Boden’s announcement.

“I don’t think there is an attempt on anyone’s part to confuse anybody or try to pass something that is not clear or defined,” Clark said. “Some of these issues seem to be taking time on everybody’s part because we want to make sure that nobody is hurt in the long run.”

VCNA Prairie had sought to opt out of the annexation deal if an interchange never materialized, Clark said. The company also was looking for at least five years of abated property taxes.

A.R. Land Co. was the second company requiring a zoning change for its 340 acres west of Route 23, before being allowed to annex into the city. Representatives presented a dramatic change to its territory, but the public hearing still was going on by press deadline.

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