Normal City Council approves plans to expand 3 housing estates, adding nearly 70 new homes

Normal City Council on Monday approved plans to expand three of the town’s housing estates, paving the way for the construction of nearly 70 new homes.

“The developers are ready to move forward,” City Manager Pam Reece said.

The board unanimously approved several elements to accommodate the growth of The Vineyards, on Raab and airport roads; Trails on Sunset Lake, Fort Jesse and Airport Roads; and Greystone Fields, on Parkside Road, near Normal Community West High School.

Also at Monday night’s meeting, the city set aside $1 million for street resurfacing and heard from young residents sharing their 25-year outlook for Normal.

Of the planned housing builds, council member Karyn Smith said the main reason was clear: the growth of Rivian’s workforce.

“We have welcome economic development that is increasing demand for housing,” she said, noting that developers had signaled that Rivian employees wanted more single-detached home building options.

Some of those new subdivisions had stalled, slowed first by the 2008 housing crisis and then by a 2014 State Farm decision to slow hiring in the Twin Cities.

Mayor Chris Koos noted that the dozens of new constructions now planned are much needed, adding that a local real estate agent told him that as of February 20, only 20 homes were for sale in Normal.

Youth-Led Vision 2045 Plan

The city’s visionary plan, published every five years since 1990, looks ahead to the city’s future for 25 years.

For Vision Plan 2045, city leaders decided to take a different approach – soliciting input from young people, said city planner Mercy Davison. She said the decision was made, in part, because the pandemic had hampered the city’s traditional approach to its vision plan process.

Vision 2045 included participants between the ages of 3 and 15. The survey group came from three Normal-sponsored summer programs – a Children’s Discovery Museum Camp, a Normal Parks and Recreation Camp, and the Normal Public Library Reading Program: Each child helped design artwork showing what they envisioned for Normal in 2045.

At Monday’s meeting, three participants shared their thoughts with the board.

Siblings Connor Roehm and Avery Roehm, 8 and 10 respectively, who attend Benjamin Elementary School, made illustrations as part of their time at a CDM camp.

“In the year 2045, I wish every homeless person had a place to call home and had warmth, food and a place to sleep before they got into electronics and technology,” said Connor Roehm.

Her sister described the happy scene she had depicted in her artwork – with lots of colorful houses and people “smiling from ear to ear”.

Chiddix Junior High School student Druv Ravinuthala, 12, who was part of Vision 2045 through the Department of Normal Parks and Recreation’s Teen Adventure Camp, also spoke.

He said he would like a future Normal with more wheelchair-accessible playgrounds, sports equipment loans and more environmentally friendly buildings, among other things. He also said he wanted people to see more monarch butterfly gardens, to help increase this population.

“It’s pretty crazy to think about it, but I’ll actually be 37 in 25 years. And hopefully some of those changes will actually be made by then,” the seventh-grader said.

$1 million for street resurfacing

The council also voted to allocate $1 million of its fuel tax funds to the MFT Street resurfacing project for the 2022-23 fiscal year. Then the city will ask for bid proposals, with rewards expected this spring.

In other cases counsel:

  • Modified rules, based on recommendations from the Normal Planning Commission, for outdoor dining spaces, as well as the use of off-aisle parking areas in Normal.
  • Awarded a bid valued at $115,000 to Bloomington-based Water Products Co. for materials management of the water main and service line for the city.
  • OK’d a 5-year agreement with Illinois State University to share some parking spots, primarily allowing the city to offer summer parking spots in an ISU lot near the Fairview Family Aquatic Center.

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