Town of Normal staff has asked Town Council Member Stan Nord to halt development on his property in west Normal for a business until the town approves a site plan he has yet to submit.
Nord, owner of the former Swim Team Store site, 2012 W. College Avenue, said he’s helping bring economic development to the community and the town should be more flexible in assisting prospective businesses.
Phoenix-based Mobile Mini Solutions, a portable storage company, started setting up rental containers on the property while Nord has expanded gravel on the 15-acre property, both of which violate town code until the town signs off on a site plan.
“There are more than 60 containers on the property and a greatly expanded gravel area north of the building,” Town Planner Mercy Davison wrote to Nord in an email WGLT obtained through a public records request. “Please let us know how you’d like to proceed, as we can assist with the process. In the meantime, please refrain from adding any containers to the site or expanding the gravel area further.”
Nord told WGLT he was operating with the understanding he had the go ahead to make changes based on the final plat which the town council approved last May.
“To be honest I wasn’t aware I was going to have to give them one for property that’s been final platted in the town that is zoned for doing this and that all I was doing was using more property that I already owned and pay taxes on,” Nord said.
City Manager Pam Reece said town staff told Nord at the time that any changes would require a new site plan.
“We believe it was very clear that for further things to happen on the site a site plan would have to be on file and get approval,” Reece said.
Nord said the work at the site was finished in December and the company is now in operation. He said other businesses have also expressed interest in locating at the site.
Nord said much of Mobile Mini Solutions’ business comes from cities with industrial economies. He said that could provide a significant economic boom to the area because it would attract outside investment.
He didn’t offer details on the number of jobs the company plans to create.
Company officials haven’t responded to requests seeking comment.
Nord wouldn’t say if he feels his role as a self-described watchdog on the council has fueled this dispute, but he’s concerned that more roadblocks and delays could eventually prompt Mobile Mini Solutions and other prospective businesses to look elsewhere.
“I would say in hindsight, if this is going to blow up, I would have been better off letting this company choose some other community to move to than me being involved because that’s the reality,” Nord said.
“It’s so frustrating to me to see how difficult it is to bring something good to the community,” Nord said. “If this is what it takes to make a change so that other businesses will have an easier time, then I’ll go through the process.”
Reece said the town has been flexible in working with Nord.
“We certainly try to work with business owners,” Reece said. “We gave Mr. Nord notice in May of 2019, it’s now January of 2020.
“He had ample time I believe to get a site plan filed and through the process. So we are working with him now to make it as expeditious as possible.”
Nord said engineers with Mobile Mini Solutions are working with the town to get plans submitted before the Feb. 3 deadline to get it on the March 5 town’s planning commission agenda.
The area is zoned for manufacturing. Reece said any site change must be approved because of its close proximity to an area zoned for single-family residential.
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