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Government Local

Sycamore OKs new gas station; increases fines

SYCAMORE – Residents could have another place to fill up their gas tank after the Sycamore City Council on Monday approved a new Casey’s General Store location for the north side of the city.

The new gas station would be located on the northeast corner of the Route 23 and Plank Road intersection, kitty corner from the Jewel Osco along Peace Road. Developers are still working through the permit process with the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy said a fueling center has been needed on the north side of the city for some time, as most of that potential money has been spent in Burlington or Genoa.

“We’re pleasantly surprised we’ll finally have a filling station there,” he said. “We expect to capture a lot of sales.”

The location would have entrance points off Route 23 and Plank Road, according to initial designs.

The council also delivered a blow to lawbreakers, increasing fines for city code violations in an effort to deter that behavior rather than raise revenue, which would only increase minimally, city officials said.

The new three-tier structure includes a $20 fine for traffic violations, $100 for “quasi-criminal” activity with a $200 fine for subsequent offenses and $250 for serious violations such as drug possession, with a $500 fine for subsequent offenses.

Parking meter violations would remain $1 and dog violations such as bites, running at large and incessant barking would increase from $50 to $100 for first offenses as Sycamore Police Chief Don Thomas said the fines were not deterring the behavior.

“We have learned a $50 violation fine really doesn’t send a message,” Thomas said.

Alderman Greg Taylor questioned the thought process behind the drug violations and asked if it was better handled in the court system. Thomas said for small amounts of marijuana, it is more fiscally responsible to issue a $250 fine instead of spending the money to bring the offender to court just to receive a similar punishment.

“It takes a lot of money to bring that person to court,” Thomas said. “This is streamlining the system.”

City Manager Brian Gregory said many of the fines had not been updated since 1988 and were well behind the level of similar sized municipalities. He said the fines are still lower than most comparable cities and fines would be reviewed more frequently moving forward.

In addition to updating existing fines, the council showed initial support for local regulation of video gaming, which was recently approved for bars and clubs by the council.

The local regulation would include a $100 annual license per terminal for businesses seeking video gaming machines. Businesses would need to include the number of machines and the exact location they would be placed to receive a license.

If a business is operating machines without a license or has allowed a minor to play the machine, the establishment would be fined $250, and $500 for any future violation.

The council approved the measure on first reading, but Alderwoman Janice Tripp asked the language to be stronger at the next meeting, requiring minors to be a certain distance from the machines. She said she did not want parents bringing their children into a bar or club when they planned on playing the machine.

“I don’t want them sitting on the parents’ lap while the parents are playing the machine,” Tripp said.

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