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Craft brew establishments a possibility for downtown

A change in the City of Joliet’s ordinance governing businesses in the downtown area could soon pave way for brew pubs and craft breweries. At the Tuesday, Feb. 2 regular meeting of the City Council, officials approved an item that would allow for new license classifications and regulations for craft brew establishments in Joliet.

James Haller, director of community and economic development, recently noted how a developer reached out to city officials with a proposal inquiring about an interest in setting up a brew pub. Haller said the city’s zoning ordinance and regulation were previously vague in terms of what’s allowed and what’s prohibited.

“In the downtown area, it allows for bars and restaurants to serve alcohol,” he said of the ordinance’s revision. “It didn’t specifically allow breweries.”

The change creates class A1 and A2 definitions and regulations for these establishments, allowing Joliet to comply with Illinois Liquor Control Act.

Haller said the growing popularity of craft breweries and brew pubs at the national level is one reason for Joliet to consider the ordinance’s revision and act on it.

“People in their age categories don’t frequent sports bars,” he said of millennials aged 21 and older. “They like a good meal with their beer.”

Officials hope that adding classifications to Joliet’s existing liquor code will allow for future business endeavors and in the meantime, allow the City to lease a portion of Union Station to a potential craft brew establishment.

Almost every other establishment serving alcohol operates in the B-3-zoned commercial corridor. In moving forward, city officials denote that craft breweries and brew pubs will be permitted uses in the B-2 central business district.

City officials hope the community will respond positively to the change. “There’s no doubt that it’s allowed,” Haller said of brew pubs and craft breweries. “It’s meant to clear up any confusion.”

TASER Officer Safety program to see expansion

City officials unanimously approved the Joliet Police Department’s request to purchase 50 additional TASER devices at a cost of $109,626.

The request, which the city council approved at its Feb. 2 meeting, would allow law enforcement officials to improve officer safety and reduce injuries to officers and offenders.

Joliet police first implemented a Taser Officer Safety program in 2010 with an initial purchase of 25 devices.

Since then, the department said it has continued to expand the program.

According to the Joliet Police Department, the program was started after a department analysis showed that a total of 83 cases considered use-of-force encounters led to lost work time and workmen’s compensation claims due to on-duty injuries.

Because the Taser devices have a five-year shelf life, the police department will replace the first round of Taser issued and upgrade to the more efficient Model X2. The purchase is part of the police department’s 2016 budget.

Joliet hires engineering consultant for Run Rock Creek project

The Joliet City Council last week paved way for the city to move forward with plans for the Run Rock Creek improvement project.

Officials said the project will look at the existing roadway conditions and weight limit restrictions on Essington road near Run Rock Creek. Improvements include the replacement of the existing two-span concrete beam structure for a three-span concrete slab structure.

The City Council approved a professional services agreement for Phase I engineering services on the project, as well as an agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation that allows them to recoup 80 percent of the cost. The city will initially pay the consultant and invoice IDOT for the federal share of the project once Phase 1 engineering is completed.

Reconstruction of the roadway over Run Rock Creek will cost an estimated $3,018,000.

Public utilities efficiency study

Joliet also authorized a professional services agreement for a Department of Public Utilities efficiency study.

In 2015, the city could initiated this request as part of a review of the 2015 comprehensive water and sewer rate study.

The vote allows Matrix Consulting Group to manage the project, including conducting interviews with stakeholders, touring facilities, reviewing organizational structure and evaluating staffing, work practices and level of service.

Joliet will pay $54,700, out its water and operations fund, for the study.