The meeting of the Pontiac Planning and Zoning Board Monday night created quite a stir, per  the minutes from that meeting. About 40 residents living in the condo properties near the Elks Club were present to protest further development of the Rittenhouse property without the implementation of an access road to Route 66 due to their concerns that additional traffic would create a safety hazard to condominium residents.
    The Rittenhouse property, about 6.61 acres located at 1031 W. Reynolds St., already features the Advanced Auto Parts that was recently built there. At Monday’s meeting of the Planning and Zoning Board, the petitioner and owner of the property, William Paul, was requesting that a preliminary plat be waived and that a final plat be approved of a subdivision to be known as “William Paul’s Second Addition.”
    In the petition, Paul was requesting that most of the remainder of that property, presently zoned as residential, be rezoned as commercial. What commercial designs, if any, Paul had for the property were not mentioned in the minutes, besides the minutes noting that he had a “landscaping plan for the proposed strip mall” on the property, fronting Route 116.
    Rumors have long circulated about the opening of a Jimmy John’s in Pontiac, a rumor all but confirmed to reality when the official Facebook account for the sandwich chain replied to a resident’s inquiry about the opening of a Pontiac facility with “I’ve got a shop in the works … Can’t wait to be there!” in October 2017.
    The original concept plan was presented in 2014. At that time, Paul had proposed to overlay the Elks Club Road and maintain it, and also hoped to obtain an easement to have a drive that would help reduce traffic out to Route 116 West, according to the minutes; however, the deal was nixed with the Elks Club, and the owner of the property where the easement would have been placed an exceptionally high price on it, so no alternative drive was included in plans.
    Residents that attended the meeting voiced concerns with the traffic and additional congestion that would be created by the opening of more businesses in the area, particularly ones with the potential for a high volume of traffic.
    Per the minutes, some of the main complaints residents had were regarding the traffic light at the intersection of Routes 116 and 66 and the “turn on red” that keeps cars continually moving towards the west, a situation that makes exiting the Elks Clubs Road onto Reynolds Street extremely difficult, particularly for elderly drivers. These residents also desired a stoplight at that intersection of Elks Club Road and Route 116.
    However, the condo residents were told by Mayor Bob Russell and City Engineer Brian Verdun that Route 116 is under the purview of the Illinois Department of Transportation, and not the City of Pontiac. They said that they had previous discussions with IDOT about the placement of a stoplight in that area, but the state transportation department replied that the traffic count on Elks Club Road does not warrant a stop light.
    After further discussion, the board agreed that since the preliminary plat was approved in 2014 and that the new request of the proposed subdivision involves no new streets, its waiving this time around made sense. A motion to waive the preliminary plat and approve a final plat for a one lot subdivision was given unanimous approval.