Road project, zoning topics for county

Pictured is a proposal for a restricted crossing U-turn at EE Road and Route 3 near the entrance of the Monroe County YMCA-HTC Center.

Monroe County Engineer Aaron Metzger talked about future projects for Route 3 between Waterloo and Columbia during last Tuesday’s meeting of the Monroe County Board. 

He said the Illinois Department of Transportation and the county are seeking federal funds for these projects through the Local Highway Safety Improvement Program. 

The biggest update is a proposal to restrict access to cross Route 3 at EE Road at the entrance to the YMCA. This would be accomplished by building a “restricted crossing U-turn,” or RCUT, near the intersection.

The project was discussed at a December meeting, along with similar proposals at Hanover and Coxeyville roads. The proposed RCUT at EE Road is the first to gain official application status and board approval.  

The RCUT would also restrict left turns onto Route 3 from Granny Lane. 

If grant funding is approved, corresponding U-turn lanes would be constructed on the Route 3 median about 1,000 feet from the intersection, one near Asselmeier Estates just north of LifeChurchX and one south near the end of Booster Station Road.   

Metzger said the RCUT would allow traffic to merge into the flow of traffic, thus providing safer access to Route 3.  

RCUTs are designed to restrict left-hand turns onto highways, thereby reducing the amount of “conflict areas” which lessen the potential for traffic accidents.

Motorists at RCUT intersections are allowed to make right turns only to access legal U-turn medians, reducing not only the potential for collisions but also eliminating congestion and stopped vehicles in perpendicular intersections.

With current traffic created by YMCA patrons and the recent opening of the new LifeChurchX facility, in addition to future development expected along Route 3 north of Caring Way, traffic volume is expected to increase in the area.

There is no timetable for construction as the project is in “application phase only” at this time, Metzger said.

In other business from the meeting, Human Support Services Executive Director Anne Riley requested funding for two agency initiatives.

The first request was for $225,000 for HSS to implement a new “electronic health record” system. Riley explained HSS has used a smaller-scale system since 2010, but changes in the Illinois Medicaid system and new mandatory tracking and assessment requirements are needed to “expand the way in which (HSS) provides services.”

Riley also said the new system would be more “efficient” in light of the “unique  needs for reporting and tracking” throughout the variety of programs HSS offers.

The second request was for $10,000 in order to expand the Monroe County Criminal Justice Behavioral Task Force. This task force was established in 2018 with a goal of reducing “recidivism among the Monroe County Jail population” by providing access to mental health and substance abuse treatment services.

Riley said the funds would be used for a communication campaign to create public awareness of the task force goals. Funds would also be used to maintain the crisis intervention team consisting of local law enforcement and EMS personnel. 

Additionally, HSS would like to provide training for three local pastors who have expressed interest in being volunteer police chaplains for the Waterloo and Columbia police departments and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.

The board approved both requests.

Commissioners also approved a $7,400 request for six new laptop computers and four docking stations to be used by Monroe County State’s Attorney’s Office.

In other county business, a tie vote at the June 2 meeting of the Monroe County Planning Commission prompted a planned withdrawal of a rezoning request by the owners of the property in question, Monroe County Electric Cooperative.

It will be the second such withdrawal of a zoning request by MCEC in as many meetings of the planning commission.

At a May 5 planning commission meeting, MCEC was requesting a rezoning recommendation of just under 18 acres near the intersection of Kaskaskia Road and Route 3 south of Waterloo.

This request was to rezone the section of the parcel from A-1 agricultural use to B-2 highway business zoning “with the intent to sell as a commercial lot.” 

After hearing public input, MCEC President/CEO Alan Wattles informed the board he would withdraw the request and bring a new plan to the June 2 meeting that would be better received by nearby residents.

The request for rezoning during this meeting was to rezone a different 33-acre section of the parcel resting just north of Route 3 and west of Old Route 3 from A-1 to B-2 “with the intent to develop or sell.”

During public comment, nearby residents expressed concerns regarding both the uncertainty of what business would eventually be located on the property and its impact on traffic in what was described by residents as an already problematic area.

Planning commission member Dan Davis pointed out changes on Route 3 – including any additional traffic control signals – are at the discretion of the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Before making a motion to recommend approval of the change to the Monroe County Zoning Board of Appeals, Davis added the county’s comprehensive plan is designed for creation of commercial development along the Route 3 corridor.

During discussion, commission member Dave Glosecki said, “I’m not knocking the concept, I just wish I knew what was going in (the lot). Without a definitive answer on what we’re leading to here … to rezone it and put in on the market … I’m picturing another Stumpy’s (Distillery and Spirits) adventure,” referring to a controversial zoning change request in September for a parcel along Route 3 near Hanover Road to be rezoned to a B-2 business district.

That request was granted in October.

“I’m all for doing something, we just need to know what,” Glosecki concluded.

After the planning commission split its vote 3-3, Wattles told the board he would withdraw the request and sell the parcel “as-is,” with A-1 zoning. 

After discussing the matter with the MCEC Board of Directors, a formal withdrawal is expected to be filed later this month.

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