The Paxton City Council made no decision on rezoning the 1902 Westlawn School building from single family to multi-family use. Instead, after a lengthy discussion, the council decided to table the matter till next month when it is hoped two absent council members, Deane Geiken and Susan Satterlee, should be in attendance. Alderman Rob Pacey said he thought those two need to be part of the discussion.
Last week the Planning Commission turned down prospective buyer, Richard Miller’s request for the rezoning so he could turn the building into five apartments. The council could have concurred with the commission’s recommendation, rezoned the parcel at 465 E. Orleans or sent the matter back to the commission.
Miller said he plans to spend $250,000 rehabilitating the building and each apartment would be about 850 square feet. He said he’s in the business of “saving history one building at a time.” He plans to hold on to the property and not flip it though Alderman Jonas Hoedebecke questioned how Miller would see the return on his investment. Hoedebecke did say he thought Paxton could use some more multi-family housing.
Neighbor Brad Eichelberger restated his objections to the project that he outlined the previous week. “It will change the feel of our neighborhood,” he said. Randy Smith, chairman of the board of the Upper Room Church said he would take no position. He noted his church is connected to the old school building whether it is redeveloped or not.
Pacey noted that the old school generates $232 annually to the city in property taxes but if it were renovated, would bring in five to ten times that. But Alderman Cody Evans asked Miller what value he would bring to the neighbors’ properties. Miller said the improvements would be better than the rundown building with boarded up windows that is there now.
The council will meet again March 9 at 7 p.m.