Urbana council appoints new fire chief

By Pamela Nisivaco

As Michael Dilley was announced as the newly appointed Urbana fire chief at Monday’s Urbana City Council meeting, a group of firefighters lined the back wall of the council chambers applauding him. Dilley said he credited his wife and son as two of the most important people in his life.

“We’re going to do our best to make the citizens of Urbana proud,” Dilley said. “These are the best firefighters I know.”

Dilley was the only candidate and was unanimously approved by the Council after a closed-session interview.

“Quite frankly, I never thought I’d reach this level,” he said. “I’m just excited that people would feel me worthy of this position.”

The positive tone of the meeting changed when the Council turned to discussion of an ordinance adding a “Neighborhood Conservation Districts” section to the Urbana zoning ordinance.

The districts provide protection for areas where residents and property owners feel there is a “special character,” but the area is not necessarily a historic district, said Robert Myers, a manager in the city’s planning division. These districts have been called for by numerous groups, but each has different thoughts on program details, he said.

“In a way, (the districts) are a grass-roots petition to get the city to collaborate with property owners,” Myers said.

Some residents were not pleased with the ordinance, which was moved to the agenda for the first November Council meeting. Dianna Visek, an Urbana resident, said she is concerned with the low percentages proposed to start the process and finalize it.

Tyler Fitch, a city plan commissioner, said he supports the idea but wants to see more consensus.