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by Chris Russell
Aqua Illinois updated the Peotone Village Board at the Committee of the Whole meeting last month.
The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) is reviewing the agreement and received testimony from Aqua. Testimony from Aqua is typically data requested for the ICC to review. Now, the ICC is taking staff testimony.
February 20 will be a status hearing where the Village of Peotone and Aqua will likely agree with the ICC testimony and move forward to an evidentiary hearing.
Aqua representatives tell board members that they feel confident the asset sale will be finalized before June 1.
Also, Aqua representatives would like another informational open house, possibly in March.
Aqua requested Peotone’s assistance with some of the right-of-way properties for the Watermain that would connect to their University Park line.
Since Aqua does not have ICC approval for the Peotone water system yet, the right-of-way properties needed are out of their certificate area. Therefore, they cannot expend funds to for parcel acquisition for the Watermain.
To speed the up the process, the Village of Peotone could purchase those properties for the Waterman right-of-way and be reimbursed by Aqua.
While the process is still in the planning phase, the Watermain would likely to run down Egyptian Trail to Peotone-Beecher Road to Hawthorne and connect to the Corning Avenue Watermain.
When Aqua was planning the University Park Waterline, a group of property owners formed a group and hired an attorney from the Quad Cities.
So, Aqua negotiated an agricultural impact mitigation agreement with the group and paid those agriculture property easements higher than the land appraisal studies showed.
The agreement included other requirements and circumstances, such as having an agricultural inspector on site along with the engineers.
Learning from that experience, Aqua plans to offer that same deal to these property owners, saving everyone time and money.
A couple of scenarios are possible. Robinson Engineering or the Village Attorney would send the bill to Aqua and Aqua would pay the bill or write the check to the village for the expense. Or, the expenses would be totaled and paid to the Village at the time of closing.
Robinson Engineering would handle all the negotiations with property titles transferred to Peotone and then to Aqua once the agreement is completed.
The Village and Aqua are expediting the process because State legislation allowing this agreement expires in June. State legislators will likely renew the law, but with the uncertainty, officials feel its best to close the agreement before the expiration date.
Aqua will model the Waterline to Peotone with future growth in mind and will choose a 12, 18 or 24-inch line that will tie into Peotone’s 12-inch Watermain.
Aqua representatives stated that Peotone might have timed the sale well, as state lawmakers are looking to push through legislation to eliminate all lead in municipal water systems within ten years. That process will be extremely expensive.
New Jersey passed similar legislation, and Illinois might use that as their model.
Also at the board meeting, Trustee Mike Jones told board members that Mark Mostert approached him regarding erecting billboards on Village easements.
Mostert stated the village could receive $1,000 a month to lease the land to him for his billboard business.
He’s been discussing the issue with trustee Jones for a few years. Also, the village would have a portion underneath the signs to display messages.
Village Administrator Gregg Spathis stated the matter would have to be thought through as the State regulates how many signs can be erected within a mile.
Therefore, the Village will have to consider those limitations and how future businesses near the interstate will want signage.