A contract for the property at the northeast corner of Hershey and Shepard Roads will be drawn with the intent to relocate Fire Station 2.
Residents from the neighboring Blackstone Trails subdivision voiced concerns at the meeting about noise and light pollution at the proposed location. They also said they were not made aware of the proposal until three days before council’s vote.
Brian Day, the town corporation counsel, said the council’s approval does not mean the location for the station is necessarily set in stone. It must first pass through the planning commission.
“If the planning commission or the council were to reject the rezoning of the property, or reject the amendment of the subdivision plan, then the sale wouldn’t go through," Day said. "We’d probably either renegotiate something else with this particular property or we’d look to some other property.”
Town council member Kathleen Lorenz said she visited one of the neighboring subdivision properties.
“You know, it is close. It is without a doubt close," Lorenz. "And so, that’s why I think there was some good discussion around, although we’re not at the place of design yet, but nonetheless, we were still able to talk about ways that should this move forward, can we mitigate some of the concerns.”
Solutions included building the station on the far end of the property, having fire apparatus enter and exit on the nonresidential side of the property, and what Fire Chief Mick Humer called being a “good neighbor” by doing their best to keep sirens and lights to a minimum in the overnight hours.
Various council members voiced their experiences living near a fire station in Normal. Jeff Fritzen expressed his gratitude for living near a fire station after emergency responders went to his home in July when Fritzen had a heart attack.
Councilman Scott Preston said he is a former resident of Blackstone Trails, and that he understands the residents’ concerns. But he stressed the council must do better to inform residents about upcoming plans in their area.
Fire station 2 currently sits on College Avenue, west of Veterans Parkway. Humer said the new location will alleviate the stress and safety concerns about crossing Veterans Parkway for calls on the east side of town.
The next planning commission meeting is Dec. 6.
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