Minutes of the Committee Meeting of the Gurnee Village Board - June 23, 2014






JUNE 23, 2014



Call to Order

Mayor Kovarik called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.


Other Officials in Attendance

Patrick Muetz, Village Administrator; Bryan Winter, Village Attorney; David Ziegler, Asst. Village Administrator/Community Development Director; Tracy Velkover, Planning Manager; Fred Friedl, Fire Chief; Tom Keefe, Fire Marshal


Roll Call

PRESENT:       6- Balmes, Hood, Wilson, Ross, Park, Garner

ABSENT:         0- None




1.  Presentation by Gurnee American Legion Regarding Video Gaming


      Legionnaire spokesperson Mr. Jim Huisel gave an overview of  Gurnee American Post 771 including history, the four pillars of the American Legion (Americanism; Children & Youth; National Security & Foreign Relations; Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation) and a financial review of the past nine years indicating they only have enough funds to operate for the next three years.  Mr. Huisel stated that in order for the Legion to survive, grow, and remain solvent, they need a new source of income; thus, they have come before the Village Board to request video gaming at Post 771.


      Upon completion of their presentation, Village Attorney Bryan Winter reviewed the legal gaming Statute.  He referred to the 2009 Video Gaming Act and its definition which includes Fraternal and Veteran’s Organizations and Section 27 which indicates “a municipality may pass an ordinance prohibiting video gaming within the corporate limits of the municipality.”  Attorney Winter cited several cases that are currently in litigation regarding video gaming.  To summarize, he stated the Village has two options:  1) Take No action:  By Statute, Video Gaming is Automatically Allowed, or 2) Pass Ordinance to “Opt Out.”  He stated if the Village allows gaming, it would be available to all that qualify.  The Village cannot just allow it for the Legion.


      The Mayor clarified stating the Village wants to help the American Legion; however, the Village is not on firm legal ground making the American Legion an exception.  She then queried the Village Board to find out if they wanted to reconsider video gaming for  the American Legion understanding that it not be limited to just the American Legion.




      Trustee Balmes asked how many of the 52 liquor licenses currently held by the Village are non-franchise and what the hours of operation the American Legion would have. Attorney Winter stated we would certainly not have 52 establishments requesting video gaming and he would check and determine the number of non-franchises.    Legionnaire Gordon Finkel, 5055 Glendale Drive, stated the hours of operation would typically be noon to 10 p.m.


      Trustee Hood stated he compares the Legion to the church regarding relevancy.  He believes the Village wants to be part of the answer; however, video gaming is not an avenue he would like to pursue.


      Trustee Garner echoed Trustee Balmes’ question regarding the licenses already held by the Village and also asked about the problems and issues incurred by those Legion Posts who currently hold video gaming licenses.  He further stated that he is in favor of taking a closer look at video gaming and all it encompasses.


      Trustee Wilson stated he would like to move forward with something that protects the Village while at the same time provides the needed funding source for the American Legion.


      Trustee Park asked if the establishments that have seen an increase in income was due to an increase of new people generating new revenue.   Legionnaire Gordon Finkel answered stating his observation at other local Posts is that there are no new people.


      Trustee Park asked if the Village chose to “Opt In” which would allow American Legion to have video gaming and then chose to “Opt Out”  if litigation occurred, would that be feasible.  Attorney Winter stated that Village could not reverse their decision as it would cause significant consequences.


      Trustee Ross stated she is Chairman of the Board of Visit Lake County, which is highly dependent on visitors, and the perception is that Gurnee is a family oriented Village; however, if visitors see that Gurnee allows video gaming, it would not be a favorable reflection and feels this not the way the Village would want to go. She further stated if we can’t make an exception for the American Legion, she would have a hard time agreeing to a gaming license.


      Trustee Wilson stated that he sees the decision as an “Opt In” or “Opt Out” decision.


      After final discussion, the Mayor concurred with the Board that video gaming is not a good fit for the Village of Gurnee but committed to finding a viable solution to increasing the American Legion’s financial base.



2.   Discussion of Future Land Use Along Old Grand Avenue


      Asst. Village Administrator/Community Development Director David Ziegler addressed the Board stating they are nearing the end of the initial drafting of the Zoning Ordinance update and would like to obtain feedback on the C/S-3 Village Center-Residence/Business District and how to move forward.  Mr. Ziegler gave a history of the changes that have occurred since the adoption of the 1997 Comprehensive Land Use Plan that include Building Codes, Fire Prevention Code and Illinois Accessibility Code and ADA standards.   Mr. Ziegler then proposed four options for the Board to consider:  1) Remove commercial conversion from the district, 2) Further Amend Building and Fire Codes,   3) Amend Development Standards for the District and 4) Make No Changes at All.




      Trustee Wilson asked if there have been any loss or issues related to code violations on Old Grand Avenue in the 17 homes that have converted into businesses.  Fire Marshal Tom Keefe stated that we have not had an incident in his tenure but stressed the reason the Village has codes is due to past history and situations that have occurred.


      Trustee Park stated in order for the Old Grand Avenue area to continue the style, sense of place and have it be as lively, active, and interesting, we need to still allow commercial development.  He also stated local amendments to the International Building Codes may be necessary to accommodate the building transitions consistent with the intent of the district.


      Trustee Ross asked about the egress from a basement and if larger windows can be installed and also questioned the installation of elevators in the older two-story homes. Fire Marshal Keefe stated the codes don’t recognize the installation of larger windows for commercial use and that it has to be navigable and ADA compatible. Regarding elevator installation in two-story buildings, he explained that safeguards are in place in case of a fire.


      Trustee Garner stated that to maximize Old Grand Avenue, staff should determine if we want to keep it all residential or all commercial and look at a long-term plan while keeping the aesthetic value. 



      Trustee Balmes stated current homeowners who want to stay as homeowners should be given the option to remain on Old Grand Avenue, as well as selling their property for commercial use. 


      Trustee Hood stated he would like to see Staff continue with re-development while adhering to code enforcement and compliance responsibilities.


      Planning and Zoning Board Chairman Jim Sula addressed the Board stating Old Grand Avenue is not an ideal residential area and mainly a cut through to specific locations in that area.  He’s in favor of the orderly redevelopment of Old Grand Avenue.


      The Mayor summarized by stating the consensus is for Staff to go with Option #4 and continue with re-development while maintaining code enforcement and compliance responsibilities to verify that the businesses are operating in a safe and conforming manner.


      Mr. Ziegler will move forward with finalizing the Zoning Ordinance.




It was moved by Trustee Balmes, seconded by Trustee Park to adjourn the meeting.


Voice Vote:      ALL AYE:         Motion Carried.

Mayor Kovarik adjourned the meeting at 9;15 p.m.




Donna Dallas

Deputy Village Clerk