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posted: 9/4/2013 5:30 AM

St. Charles aldermen approve 20-year plan for city

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It was a night of big plans in St. Charles Tuesday with both the future of the city and the implementation of one of the most-watched state laws in several years on the table.

Aldermen approved a new comprehensive plan for the city. The plan two years in the making is meant to be a document that guides development and redevelopment of key areas of the city for the next 20 years. But the plan is not legally binding, and the final vote by aldermen showed some aspects of the vision will remain blurry.

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Aldermen Ron Silkaitis, Art Lemke and Jim Martin all voted "no" on the comprehensive plan. Alderman Dan Stellato abstained from the vote because of professional conflicts of interest. That means the vision for the future of the city passed by just six votes, the bare minimum necessary for a majority on the city council.

Lemke voted against the plan because of ongoing concerns with a lack of detail in the plan regarding the legal constraints surrounding the Oliver-Hoffmann property next to Charlestowne Mall. A legal settlement agreed to by the city a few years ago divided a 30-acre site just north of the mall into several smaller lots with restrictions on what can be built on them.

Lemke said he didn't believe the development parameters of that agreement were made clear in the new comprehensive plan. Mayor Ray Rogina didn't agree with Lemke, but he said it didn't really matter if the settlement was reflected in the comprehensive plan or not.

"We can agree the decree stands on its own merits," Rogina said.

That didn't change Lemke's "no" vote.

Martin and Silkaitis voted against the plan because it opens the door to some level of residential development on the Old St. Charles Mall site.

Despite lingering concerns from St. Charles police, there was no dissension when it came time to vote on changes to the city's weapons ordinance.

The changes approved by aldermen Tuesday night bring the city's laws into alignment with Illinois' new concealed carry law. Namely, the changes allow for the possession of firearms on public property as long as a person has a concealed carry permit.

All other people who are not members of law enforcement are still prohibited from carrying firearms in the city anywhere except at a firing range.

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