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Marengo City Council could have its annexation process completed soon

MARENGO – The Marengo City Council could have its annexation process completed by next month, after aldermen recently added another parcel to city limits in their quest to reach Interstate 90 and build an interchange.

City Manager Gary Boden said the city could have 1,300 acres annexed after the council’s May 28 meeting, when aldermen are expected to vote on the controversial agreement with property owner A.R. Land Co.

The city has been trying all year to annex 2,400 total acres southwest of its borders along Route 23 and begin formal talks with the Illinois Tollway Authority about financing an interchange at Route 23 and I-90 intended to spur economic development.

The council inched closer to that goal last week, when aldermen approved an agreement with WJR Enterprises to annex 176 acres west of Route 23. Earlier in the month, aldermen approved a much larger deal with Chicago Title Land Trust Co. for 750 acres.

“The momentum is building,” Boden said. “We have resolved some issues initially and now I think we are going to be rather programmatic about theses things. We’ve done a lot to get to this point.”

The agreement with WJR Enterprises did not generate as much intensity as other agreements in the process.

Riley Township officials did not have major concerns with the deal, after raising zoning and environmental issues with the city’s initial proposed annexations.

The city’s annexation effort cuts through Riley’s territory.

But a newly sworn-in alderman wasted no time raising his own objections about the city’s process. Alderman Dennis Hammortree, Ward 4, was the lone “no” vote on the WJR Enterprises agreement, which passed 6-1, with two aldermen absent.

He said he voted no because the city did not provide him with detailed reports on the money spent to annex WJR Enterprises’ land.

The city spent $4,300 total on the agreement, but the figure did not outline how the city budget was used to pay for the expense, Hammortree said.

“I don’t think what I’m asking for is unreasonable,” Hammortree said. “I’m just trying to figure out where the money is coming from and where it’s going. They don’t want anybody to ask a lot of questions.”

Boden did present the council with a report regarding the overall money spent on the city’s annexation process so far. But Boden said the council never directed him to conduct a more detailed cost-benefit analysis.

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