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Normal Town Council: Future Move to Ban Tobacco Shops in Uptown, $223 Million Budget Approved

Written by on March 6, 2024

NORMAL, Ill.- The town of Normal held their first council meeting of the month on March 4.

Following the budget presentation for Normal just under a month ago, the council voted unanimously Monday night on the $223 million fiscal year budget for 2024-2025.

The plan stands between the economic boom following the pandemic and the anticipated economic concerns of the upcoming year, being described by town staff and the Financial Director of Normal as “conservative”.

A future towards smoke shop bans

The council also voted to move on a new item, which would prohibit future smoke shops from operating within uptown Normal. The approval would initiate a zoning amendment which would be planned to be passed in the future, and would allow existing tobacco shops within the specified area to be grandfathered into the provision.

The proposal arose from town staff citing concerns of the abundance of tobacco and smoke accessories available in the uptown, stating the shops would “run counter to the purpose and policy of the zoning district.”

Council members Andy Byars and Scott Preston voted no on the item, with Byars stating that discussions on tobacco restriction should begin at a different starting point rather than total abolition of new storefronts.

Updates & improvements

The council also approved various bids and contracts for improvements and additions around town, including a $885,975 contract with J.G Stewart Contractors, Inc. for ADA compliant ramps and other various sidewalk improvements to be completed through 2024. The town also authorized another contract with J.G Contractors for the relocation of a sanitary sewer on Landmark Drive.

One addition the council approved was the addition of the final plat to the Trails on Sunset Lake subdivision located off of Airport Road. The resolution would increase the amount of spaces to be developed within the subdivision.

Councilwoman Karyn Smith decided to add a few comments on the approval to the subdivision which would add three additional units, saying how the town was “getting there” in meeting its housing supply shortfall.

The town also approved a contract with Luci Creative to implement design plans for the Children’s Discovery Museum’s second floor. The plan’s budget is stated not to exceed $182,500.

In other business, the council:

-Amended Division-7 of the municipal code for the towns water and sewer rates, which would increase the utility rate by two percent. The codified change would lead to a permanent annual increase of two percent for a five year period, rather than the town addressing each year at council to approve the increase. City Manager Pamela Reece stated how the increased rates solely become reinvested back into water works upkeep and maintenance for the town.

-Passed an ordinance prohibiting loitering in medians of busy intersections in Normal, such as at the intersection of Fort Jesse Road and Greenbriar Drive. The ordinance would not apply to medians designed for pedestrians to walk.

The town’s next council meeting will be held at 7 p.m on March 18.