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City rules against Fun Jump request in Sterling

Mall’s petition goes to Plan Commission

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST

STERLING – The council voted Monday to turn down a petition from a local business owner for an ordinance exclusion that was first filed almost 2 years ago.

Mardi Ybarra, owner of Fun Jump, 505 W. Lynn Blvd., wanted the council to exclude her bounce house from certain provisions of the amusements and entertainments ordinance. She was seeking the waiver of $340 in city fees, contending that her business is an indoor playground, not an arcade, for which she believes the ordinance was designed.

The fees breakdown was the annual city licensing amount of $100, and a $40 fee for each device.

The council had tabled Ybarra’s request at its June 16 meeting, and sent it back to staff for further study at the July 7 meeting.

The vote was 4-1 in favor of Alderman John Stauter’s motion to enforce the ordinance as written. Alderman Barry Cox cast the only dissenting vote.

“I disagree with this; we’re not comparing apples with apples here,” Cox said. “This is double-dipping, because the state does an inspection and they are already paying them.”

Three other businesses that fell under provisions of the ordinance were looked at: Blackhawk Amusement, National, and Northwest Music. Stauter said he thought it would be unfair to those businesses to honor Ybarra’s request.

City Manager Scott Shumard said he didn’t like the idea of making piecemeal exceptions to ordinances.

“If we’re waiving things, it opens the door to more exception requests,” Shumard said. “If an exception is needed, we need to talk about changing the code.”

The door has not been closed on that possibility. Ybarra said she isn’t ready to give up on the request. She plans to discuss with Alderman Lou Sotelo guidelines for having the city review the ordinance.

“This is a unique business, and there is nothing it can be fairly compared to in Sterling,” Ybarra said. “I believe it should be separate from amusements.”

In other matters, a petition from Northland Mall ownership to amend the sign code was referred to the Plan Commission.

Under current city code, the only mall tenants allowed to display signage on the building’s exterior are those that have a separate door leading outside. The petition requests that anchor stores with square footage in excess of 45,000 square feet be allowed to put up the exterior signs.

Dunham’s Sports, the mall’s newest tenant, would be the most immediate beneficiary if the request is honored. Dunham’s, J.C. Penney, and Bergner’s are the only mall stores that meet the space requirement, and the other two stores already have the desired signage. The proposed location of the signage would be just west of the main entrance, near The Spot restaurant.

Next meeting

The Sterling City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 18, at City Hall, 212 Third Ave., on the first floor in the Council Chambers.

Go to www.sterling-il.gov/ or call City Hall at 815-632-6621 for an agenda or more information.

 

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