Local

McHenry tables $1 million request from gas station property developer

The development would include retail space, Thortons truck stop

This rendering shows a proposed gas station for a 7.5 acre site at Route 120 and Chapel Hill Road in McHenry.
This rendering shows a proposed gas station for a 7.5 acre site at Route 120 and Chapel Hill Road in McHenry.

The McHenry City Council has tabled a potential million-dollar incentive agreement for a gas station development.

The developer has proposed a Thortons gas station and retail center on a 7.5 acre site at Chapel Hill Road and Route 120.

The council previously had agreed to offset the $15 million development cost with a 20-year incentive agreement that would rebate sales taxes up to $1 million, according to city documents.

City officials originally gave the plan the OK in 2016, but the agreement has expired. The original plan was proposed to include a Ricky Rockets-brand gas station instead of a Thortons.

Other changes to the plan include adding 10 pumps instead of seven, decreasing the size of the convenience store and eliminating retail space that was supposed to be attached to the store, according to city documents.

A separate retail space on the west end of the property still is planned. The developer’s request for multiple liquor licenses to offer video gaming was a sticking point for some council members at the last meeting.

The developer wants three liquor licenses – one for the gas station, which technically is considered a truck stop according to state definition, and two for units within the retail space. The state of Illinois regulates video gambling licenses, and a business must have a liquor license to offer gaming.

Council members are concerned that gaming parlors will occupy the retail space and don’t want to approve the licenses until specific tenants are identified.

“I feel very strongly about not approving something when I have not been given all the full information I need to make a reasonable decision,” Ward 7 Alderwoman Geri Condon said. “This is giving you a blank check.”

The council recently debated whether tighter restrictions should be in place when it comes to video gambling.

“This was first approved in 2016,” Ward 1 Alderman Victor Santi said. “It’s now 2019. In this length of time we’ve had multiple gaming discussions. The thought process has adjusted.”

McHenry has the most video gaming terminals in the county, with 36 businesses offering 169 machines within city limits as of Jan.1, according to the Illinois Video Gaming board.

Council members will consider the matter again at their April 1 meeting.

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