City holds off on Neighborhood Business District

By Tara Kulash

City Council members pass Special Use Permit, liquor license updates

After a more than five-hour meeting Tuesday, the City Council approved five agenda items and tabled another.

The tabled item deals with an amendment to the city’s Neighborhood Business District, which allows businesses to be placed in residential areas. The district’s current text makes it unusable. The council voted 4-3 to discuss the item at its April 2 meeting after a two-hour attempt to tweak the amendment.


One of Councilman Don Monty’s suggestions was to require at least a half-mile between each business. While Councilman Chris Wissmann said he supported the idea, he thought only a quarter-mile would be necessary.

However, Councilman Lee Fronabarger said he didn’t think Carbondale is a big enough town for a Neighborhood Business District. Mayor Joel Fritzler reminded him, though, that the district already has been in place for around four years and the council just wanted to update its restrictions so businesses could take advantage of it.

Council Member Corene McDaniel, on the other hand, said Carbondale is a unique town that shouldn’t be compared to cities such as Chicago or Champaign. She said she believed the amendment would be good for Carbondale.

“I think this is what we are wanting to do, is to take something that has virtually no use — it has not had any use for a very long time — and make it into something viable for the community and for the neighborhoods,” she said.

Much of the debate centered on Council Member Jane Adams’ statements that she believed the whole project was a “backroom deal” to make one wealthy Carbondale businessman even wealthier. Other council members, such as McDaniel and Wissmann, said she was outright wrong.

An earlier agenda item included the allowance of a Special Use Permit for Lindsey Fisher of Home Rentals to build a four-unit residential rental building on West Monroe Street, which was voted down in 2011.

A few citizens living in the neighborhood spoke up that they believe there are already too many rental homes in the area, and the landlords don’t maintain those homes properly enough to be rewarded with more rental properties.

Diana Brawley Sussman, director of the Carbondale Public Library, said the library’s board of directors agreed it would like to purchase the property from Fisher to possibly expand the library. However, Fritzler said Fisher refuses to sell to the library because of an “offensive gesture” someone made against her. Sussman noted that whoever made the gesture is in no way affiliated with the library.

An issue raised frequently by citizens and council members was that there would be a lack of parking for residents and visitors.

“It creates problems when you don’t have enough space for everybody to park,” Fronabarger said.

Monty proposed an amendment, which passed, to require at least two and up to four additional parking spots as well as handicap accessibility from the parking lot. The item passed 5-2 with Adams and Fronabarger voting against it.

Another approved item expanded the Class H winery license to include microbreweries and microdistilleries. The license allowed wineries to make and sell products on their premises. Under the new ordinance, however, the license will split into H1 and H2 classifications. An H1 license allows production and sale on a winery, microbrewery or microdistillery’s premises. The H2 license will extend the H1 to allow 40 percent of the businesses’ sales to be produced off-premises. A Class 1 license will allow a farmer’s market to have product tastings.

With no comments or questions, the council unanimously passed a resolution against a split between SIU campuses, as well as an award of fair days for Springfest on April 13 and the CarbondALE Microbrew and Music Festival in the fall.