MATTOON -- Concerns and questions from the community led to the City Council on Tuesday not voting on a proposed new set of regulations for private ambulance services.
In other matters, the council approved rezoning petitions for four projects -- a planned solar farm, a new location for ILMO Wholesale Welding Supply Co., a new location for the Mattoon school district's bus barn, and a planned go-cart track.
Regarding the regulations, the city drafted these updates in preparation for the planned elimination of the Mattoon Fire Department's ambulance service. The private ambulance services in Mattoon, currently Dunn's Ambulance and Mitchell-Jerdan Ambulance Service, will handle all of the calls for ambulances once the city service is eliminated.
Council member Rick Hall, as fire commissioner, opted not to motion for a vote on the proposed regulations Tuesday evening. Hall and other officials indicated that they had received much public input about these regulations prior to the meeting.
"We heard from a lot of people who had questions and concerns," City Administrator Kyle Gill said afterward, adding that all sections of the regulations have drawn comments. The regulations cover response time for calls, training, coordination with Mattoon emergency responders, and other issues.
Gill said the city will work with the Coles County 911 system and Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center to ensure that the regulations clearly address these concerns about readiness for the ambulance coverage change in Mattoon. He said the revised regulations will be brought back to the council for consideration.
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The council voted on July 18, 2017, to eliminate the fire department's ambulance service by May 1, 2018, but the city has kept this service in place as the city and firefighters' union go through contract negotiations and related grievance processes. The city has budgeted for continuing to operate the ambulance service in 2018-19.
Regarding the solar farm, Serenity Solar, LLC and Marilyn Degler McClean petitioned to rezone 43 acres of farmland at 1021 N. 33rd St. from rural suburban/commercial to service commercial district. The council also approved their special use permit and annexation requests. Serenity is a division of Cypress Creek Renewables of Durham, N.C.
Gill has said the developers plan to place solar panels on about 20 acres at the north end of the property, pending approval from the state. He said the electricity generated there will be transmitted to the regional electric grid via an existing Ameren Illinois substation along North 33rd. He has said the rest of the property may be developed as a solar farm at a later date.
The council also approved the petition of Roy Schmidt Motors Holdings for 4112 Lake Land Boulevard to be rezoned from service commercial district to general commercial district for use as ILMO's new Mattoon location. This property was previously the site of a Roy Schmidt Auto Sales & Service location. The current location of ILMO's wholesale welding supply business is at 213 N. 14th St., just north of downtown.
In addition, the council approved the petition of Barak Properties, L.L.C. for 4814 Paradise Road to be rezoned from service commercial district to general commercial district for use as the new location for the Mattoon school district's bus barn. M & M Pump & Supply previously occupied a facility on this property. The bus barn is currently located at the old Brown Shoe Factory property on the north side of town.
The council also approved the petition of Zax Trax, L.L.C. for farmland at 1104-1120 Old State Road to be rezoned from agricultural to service commercial district. The council approved a special use permit and annexation request for this property, as well. Mattoon resident Dan Haifley has said he and his son, Zachary, hope to open a go-cart track there by July 4.