UCC opposes citizen’s plan

By Jonathan Jacobson

The Urbana City Council voted on four zoning issues Monday night, one of which caused an outburst from a frustrated Urbana developer.

Howard Wakeland, an Urbana resident, has been trying to develop properties he owns at 1010, 1012 and 1012 1/2 W. Main St. since 2005.

When he first proposed his plan to the council, it was for an apartment building containing 57 units. Due to financial reasons, he planned to build the apartment in two phases.

However, buildings on his property are required to have a 15-foot setback from the edge of the property, a city zoning ordinance Wakeland knew he would have to break in order to build the apartments.

He proposed an exception to the council, who voted 4-2 against it last night, despite the planning committee’s earlier 6-0 vote supporting Wakeland.

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    Some members who voted against the proposal explained that they did not feel Wakeland’s property deserved to be an exception to the rule.

    Council member Brandon Bowersox (Ward 4) said that he would prefer to amend the ordinance rather than make exceptions to it.

    “We should provide an amendment to (the ordinance) that is fair for everyone to develop in that area,” said council member Danielle Chynoweth (Ward 2)

    Wakeland, who attended the meeting, became very upset when he heard the council’s decision.

    “Those bastards,” he could be heard screaming from the lobby outside of the council chambers.

    When the council began to deliberate other matters, he came back into the room and interrupted the meeting.

    “I know I’m out of order,” he said. “I cannot believe that I was not allowed to comment on my own project.”

    Although the council ignored his interruption, Mayor Laurel Prussing later said she didn’t stop him from commenting.

    The council also voted to protest against a proposed amendment to the Champaign County Zoning Ordinance. The protest concerns special uses within certain zoning districts, including electrical substations, long-term vehicle storage, and kennels and veterinary hospitals with animals kept outdoors either temporarily or permanently.

    This is the largest overhaul of that ordinance since 1973, said Matt Wempe, a community development staff member.

    Champaign County has already received five formal protests from municipalities, according to a planning committee report.