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Peoria council OKs $2M for South Side sidewalks, preliminary plans for north side subdivision

Peoria City Council members listen to a speaker during Tuesday's meeting at City Hall.
Joe Deacon / WCBU
/
WCBU
Peoria City Council members listen to a speaker during Tuesday's meeting at City Hall.

The Peoria City Council is moving forward with sidewalk improvements on the South Side, and preliminary plans for a large new subdivision on the north side.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, members unanimously approved acceptance of a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the sidewalk upgrades in the 61605 zip code.

The Community Project Funding Grant allocation is part of the Economic Development Initiative for the 2023 fiscal year. City manager Patrick Urich said Tuesday’s administrative step came after a 30-day deferral at the request of First District Council member Denise Jackson.

“This has been in the works for over two years now,” said Jackson, crediting former U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos with initially securing $1 million before the allocation was doubled. “I just want to say, this doesn't begin to scratch the surface for the need for sidewalks — not only in 61605, but throughout the city.”

The grant money will be used to install or replace sidewalks in identified areas of the South Side, as well as sidewalk ramps in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act [ADA]. Selected locations were chosen to improve access to Manual High School, the Southside Mission Store, Elise Ford Academy, and the Proctor Center.

In response to a question from council member John Kelly, Urich explained the project will include adding new sidewalks in certain areas.

“We're looking at trying to address areas around most of the schools and other areas of potential pedestrian activity,” said Urich. “So we're trying to fill gaps where there are no sidewalks, and then also looking at intersections so we can make sure that they're doing ADA compatible intersections.”

Grey Oak subdivision

Council members voted unanimously to approve an amended preliminary plat for a proposed Grey Oak subdivision, featuring 115 single-family homes on 86 acres north of Hickory Grove Road between Allen Road and Knoxville Avenue.

Assistant director of community development Leah Allison said lot sizes will range between a half-acre and 1.7 acres.

“Density is well below the maximum allowed, it's about 1.3 dwelling units per acre,” said Allison. “So it's a low-density development. It will be served with public sewer, public water.”

The plan forwarded by the planning and zoning commission recommended having two vehicle access points, but a waiver offered by Fifth District council member Denis Cyr allowed for a single access off Knoxville.

Cyr also posed amendments allowing two cul-de-sacs longer than 14 feet, and three detention ponds capable of handling a “500-year storm,” with future phases, including “sufficient ponds” with similar capacity. The changes were approved unanimously.

Seven of the eight speakers during the meeting’s public comments period were residents of nearby existing subdivisions, Devonshire Estates and Augusta Estates. They voiced concerns over possible stormwater drainage and traffic flow issues.

“The fact is that the property that's being developed sits up on elevation above our property, and that puts a great concern to us,” said Todd Baker, president of the Augusta Estates homeowners’ association.

Allison noted that approval of the preliminary plat is an initial administrative step toward authorizing “the totality” of the development.

“The developer then takes the time to fine tune it, working through all the requirements of the city's regulations,” said Allison. When development proceeds at that point, it's typically in phases of the subdivision — it's not likely to be all 115 lots at once.

“But with each phase of development, we require a final plat, and that final plat is submitted to staff for an administrative review. We compare it to the city's regulations and to what you have approved with this preliminary plat and making sure that it complies and matches.”

Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.