CHANNAHON – The village of Channahon may be scrambling, as it did last year, to get a few trees cut down by April.
The trees needed to come down last year at the Bluff Road and Interstate 55 interchange to make room for roadwork in progress there. This year, they need to come down because the Illinois Department of Transportation may need to pull wiring for existing light towers at the same site.
It all has to be done quickly, though, explained Channahon Public Works Director Ed Dolezal, because of bats.
The area seems to be prime habitat for the endangered mammal, the Northern long-eared myotis, which is the bat species Myotis septentrionalis. And its migration pattern brings it to the area in April.
The bat was listed as threatened two years ago. Its winter habitat is in caves or mines, and during the warmer months, it roosts in trees in forested areas, including in Will County.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s website, “Bats are critical to the nation’s ecology and provide billions of dollars in economic benefit to farmers ... through the consumption of tons of insects nightly.”
The Channahon Village Board on Monday approved contracting with Homer Tree Service for removal of the additional trees at the site, contingent on need and not to exceed $10,000.
“We gotta beat the bat,” Trustee Mark Scaggs said.
Trustees Monday also held a discussion about village land use, particularly concerning industrial development. The board is considering hiring a planner to perform a land use study, although the study could cost about $34,000.
According to Village Administrator Thomas Durkin, the study would address the land use pattern along the Interstate 55 corridor around Route 6 and Bluff Road and transportation use.
Currently, the village is working off its 2008 Comprehensive Land Use Plan, designed by a private consultant group. It was updated in 2011 by the University of Illinois at Chicago's Department of Urban Planning and Policy.
The document is still working for the village, President Missey Moorman Schumacher said, but an updated plan may need to be considered for future growth.
An example, Schumacher said, is to plan for the future of the land beside the Channahon Park District’s golf course on Bluff Road. Developers have shown interest in the acreage, she said, but the village should be careful what it allows there.
Right next to the town’s golf course is not the place for large industrial development, she said. An office complex or mixed retail and office space would be more appropriate there.
The height of business signs along the corridor should also be addressed for the future, she said. “Thoughtful growth” is what village leaders should keep in mind, she said.
As to truck traffic that new developments along the corridor will bring to town, Schumacher said that’s what most area communities are seeing, and it’s not such a bad thing. Channahon is getting truck traffic from a nearby Joliet distribution center right now, she said.
“Trucks are a way of life for us,” she said. “’No trucks’ is not an option ... There’s a ton of trucking around here.”
And using fields on the east side of I-55 near Route 6, which bring in a few thousand dollars of property tax income but are now under development, to bring business that could generate an annual $6.3 million in local property tax dollars is a good idea, she said. Those dollars will go to schools, libraries, the fire district and other taxing bodies in Channahon.
The $34,000 to hire a planner is in the village’s proposed budget, but Schumacher said the board is not sure yet if it will use it. The vote on the budget for the village’s new fiscal year will be held at the board’s next meeting, April 3.
Also during the meeting, residents Steve Czyz and Arnold Forrest asked several questions of the board, including about truck traffic, Brisbin Road development, retail development and jobs created by new development.
Czyz, who is running for Channahon trustee in the April 4 election, specifically asked about transparency, including telling the board that he believed answers to his questions about the tax levy and the equalized assessed value during a previous meeting were a deliberate effort to confuse him.
Village staff and the village president denied that they were intentionally trying to confuse Czyz and said they did their best to explain the matter to him.