LOWELL | The town is poised to annex an 80-acre parcel that will anchor its push to the south and, after months of talks, finally complete annexation of pockets within the town.
It's a lengthy process over which Lowell Councilman Donald Parker, D-3rd, feels a sense of urgency.
"How do we streamline it? We can get things done in a more timely fashion," Parker said.
He said the town needs to step up the pace to control the effects of the proposed Illiana Expressway, regardless of which route is chosen.
During a Town Council work session Monday requested by Parker, consultant James Mandon said the first step is to have a joint meeting of the Lowell Plan Commission, Lowell Redevelopment Commission, Lowell Annexation Committee and the council to determine annexation goals.
The meeting is tentatively set for 6 p.m. Aug. 23 at Lowell Town Hall.
The meeting will begin the decision-making process necessary to create a formal annexation plan and land-use maps.
"You have to know where you're headed," Mandon said.
The town has legitimate needs for annexation, including bringing in the two parcels on which its water and wastewater utilities sit and adding acreage for economic development, Mandon said.
The town no longer has space within its boundaries for more light industry.
Council President Phillip Kuiper, D-4th, said he wants to speed up the process by having fiscal plans prepared by financial consultant Greg Guerretaz go directly to the Town Council, then on to the town attorney.
The most recent fiscal plan went to the Redevelopment Commission.
Doug Niksch, president of the Redevelopment Commission, said fiscal plans provide the dollar amounts, but not necessarily their sources. He said sometimes improvements that could be assumed as a town expense would be paid by developers.
Like Parker, Niksch has made no secret of his interest in the town heading west to Interstate 65. Companies planning to locate there because of the Illiana Expressway have expressed interest in the annexation.
Mandon said the annexation plan will help town leaders focus on the size, locations and sequence for annexation.
Kuiper proposed the town establish an annexation advisory committee made up of those in the agricultural community with Councilman Edgar Corns, R-5th, as its chairman. He suggested it have six members plus Corns.
The committee would help author an ordinance for annexing farmland, Kuiper said.
Corns, a longtime farmer, said, "We want them to understand we want to protect their way of life."
Kuiper said he wants the committee in place by the end of September.