Woodstock approves designated on-street parking
The Woodstock City Council voted Aug. 21 in favor of designating existing on-street parking spaces to accommodate expanded leased office space for an Illinois Department of Human Services office.
Currently, the building at 113 Newell St. is leased by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. The state wants to lease additional office space, which would require a 5,000-square-foot addition. Owner Tom Harding has indicated he would build an addition and lease the space. The state, however, is requiring 48 parking spaces as part of the lease, but the current parking lot only has about 40 spaces.
Harding approached the Woodstock Historic Preservation Commission July 23, seeking permission to demolish a house and garage on property at 122 Newell St. to make way for additional parking. At the meeting, the commission expressed concern about how the demolition would impact the historic character of the neighborhood, since it is one of just two houses remaining on the block.
Rather than demolish the house, the council at its Aug. 7 meeting suggested the possibility of designating public on-street parking spaces for the building.
“We can’t just give away public property for private use,” said City Attorney Richard Flood. “We do have to address the issue, but there are … possible ways to do it.”
Flood said the city could rent or sell the spaces or could allow use of the spaces if they established that offering them was a direct benefit to the city.
While council members were hesitant to reserve public parking spaces for a specific use, they felt the benefit outweighed the loss of public parking spaces.
“I’m open to it, but I think we have to be very clear [that they are leasing the spaces],” said Council member Julie Dillon.
City Manager Tim Clifton suggested Harding be required to pay for the initial striping and signage for the spaces and also pay a mutually agreed-upon lease on a year-to-year basis.
Harding asked for a 20-year lease, but the city decided to offer a 10-year lease, the same number of years as Harding’s agreement with the state.
“You need to look long term,” Clifton said. “The economy is going to eventually turn around. We will eventually have something on the DieCast property.”
Harding said he was worried that if the state left, and the lease expired, he would have a nonconforming building. The city’s Unified Development Ordinance would require 72 parking spaces based on the size of the building, while the state requires only 48. Before the project can get started, Harding will need the city to approve a parking variance.
“This is meeting the requirement the state requests,” Clifton said. “They’re going to be coming back with a much larger variance [with the city].”
The council voted 6-0 in favor of dedicating the on-street parking as part of a lease agreement. Harding will work with city staff to determine the appropriate locations for the on-street parking.
Council member Mark Saladin recused himself from the discussion, indicating a conflict of interest.