City Council votes against rezoning of property

By Gus Bode

Residents in the area are relieved

Many residents that live on and around Morningside Drive could not help but smile when the Carbondale City Council denied a request to rezone property for the construction of an apartment complex for students in their neighborhood at Tuesday’s meeting in the City Council Chambers at City Hall.

Roxann Hall of Carbondale lives in the area and was excited with the council’s decision.


“I’m happy, baby. It keeps our neighborhood nice and quiet,” Hall said. “I don’t want it to be a racetrack.”

Jerry Koonce of Carbondale had requested to have the lots on 1000 and 1001 S. Morningside Drive rezoned from R-1-8 low density residential to R-3 high density residential, so that he could build an apartment complex for SIUC students.

The city staff had previously recommended denial of the request in a staff report that was sent to the city’s Planning Commission. The commission had a public hearing June 25 and voted against the motion to recommend approval of the rezoning.

Although both the staff and Planning Commission had recommended denial of the request, it was still left up to the council to decide.

Residents of the area had been objecting to the rezoning and construction, sighting that the neighborhood was designed to house single-family residents, and that is how it should stay.

The crowd at the meeting was full of these residents and several of them took time to speak in front of the council about how they felt about the issue.

“I know he’s trying to build some decent housing, but we should do it somewhere else,” said Robert Hisgen of Carbondale.


The main concerns of Hisgen and the other residents were that the construction of more apartments in the area would bring college students who would bring noise, traffic, trash and crime to the neighborhood.

Koonce said that he did not want to encroach inside of the neighborhood; he just wanted to stay at the corner of Park Street and Morningside Drive. Koonce also spoke out about the traffic and noise problems the residents were worried about.

“We all have traffic problems when students come back to town,” Koonce said. “And whenever we have a problem with noise, we usually just call the PD. They usually address it fairly well.”

After listening to what everyone had to say and discussing the situation at length, the council had a 4-3 vote on a motion to deny the request. Council members Lance Jack, Sheila Simon, Maggie Flanagan and Chris Wissmann voted for the resolution, while Steven Haynes, Corene McDaniel and Mayor Brad Cole voted against it.

Marilyn Hisgen of Carbondale has lived in the area for about 35 years. She said she is glad that the council voted against the request but did not think that the vote would be so close.

“I thought it would be more in our favor,” Marilyn Hisgen said.

Although the decision made her happy, Hisgen said she believes it would not have been possible if the people of the community had not come together like they did.

“It was important that we stuck together and worked as a neighborhood to voice our concerns,” Marilyn Hisgen said. “I think the council made the right decision.”

The council also passed an ordinance amending a 14-year-old ordinance that provided for the city to abate its property taxes on improvements made to land within the city’s Enterprise Zone.

The problem with the ordinance was that there was no provision in the city’s ordinance that addressed the situation of a Tax Increment Financing District being formed within the Enterprise Zone.

In order for a Tax Increment Financing District to be created within the Enterprise Zone, the council had to add a provision to the ordinance that states, “No abatement shall be applicable to any such improvement located within the boundaries of a Tax Increment Development Project District.”

Other items tended to at the meeting included a public hearing to discuss a proposed application for a Housing Rehabilitation Grant from the Community Development Assistance Program. Later in the meeting, the council passed a resolution authorizing the submission of the application for the grant with a unanimous vote.

The funding available for the rehabilitation is $400,000. Don Monty, the assistant city manager, said the city will match $12,000 of the funding.

The council also unanimously passed a request for the Planning Commission to conduct a public hearing on a proposed zoning ordinance text change to allow residential use as a special use on the main floor in a BPR, Primary Business District.

As a special item in their general business, the council passed a resolution commending Robert P. Hisgen for contributing more than 30 years of service to the city of Carbondale. The council presented Hisgen with two plaques as well as their gratitude.

“It’s been a great place to work,” Hisgen said. “I’m going to miss working with members of the city.”

Reporter Jacey Cain can be reached at [email protected]