Proposals that will add housing in part of the city and close streets in another part will go before the city’s full council.

    The Effingham Plan Commission approved the proposals Tuesday night. In the first, developers would demolish two existing houses and create an apartment complex on East Washington Avenue. In the second, St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital would close two streets near its campus for additional parking.

    CK Development LLC contractor Scott Conamp spoke for Midland States Bank, which owns the property on East Washington Avenue through a bank trust. The plan is to demolish the “run down homes,” Conamp said, on East Washington Avenue and build a six-unit apartment complex in its place.

    Jim Calhoun, who developed the trust and serves as the landlord of the properties, said during the meeting that the properties are in poor condition. He said he is not getting enough in rent from the residents to make payments on the homes. It is better for him to have the two houses demolished and have a modern apartment building built in the house’s place, he said.

    “(We want to) have a nice-looking apartment building downtown,” said Conamp.

    Conamp also said the complex would be close to restaurants in town.

    Not everyone was at the meeting said they approved of the prospect of the destroying the rentals. Delores Butler, who lives in one of the properties, spoke out against the proposal.

    “They take my home away from me,” she said. “What am I supposed to do?”

    But Conamp said he disagrees with her conclusions.

    “We’re not gonna throw anyone on the streets,” said Conamp who also said the owners of the property needed to do what they thought was best from a business point-of-view.

    The commission members said they agree it would be good to have more apartments in the area. All members of the plan commission agreed on the plan to have the two homes demolished to make room for the new apartment complex.

    In the proposal made by St. Anthony’s, Jody Puckett, director of support facilities and services, said the expansion would benefit the hospital, but not obstruct Kentucky Avenue or Linden Street.

    Commissioner Steven Miller supported the proposal that Puckett presented. He also said the city would not have to maintain the portion of the road any longer, so it would save money.

    The only major concern that came up were the utilities that the city owns in the right of way. Miller said the city would need an easement over the right of way to access the sewers, which are connected there.

    “We’re not sure how and when those utilities would be used in the future, so we may be able to reduce the easement,” said Miller.

    No one at the meeting questioned the proposal. However, the commission wanted to know if vacating part of the road would make it difficult for the Effingham Fire Department to do its job, but Miller said didn’t think there would be a problem. The commission also asked if there would be any costs that the city would have to pay for the hospital to expand.

    “I don’t see any (costs),” said Miller. “Taken the strength of the city’s maintenance, I see it as an advantage (to the city.)”

    The commission accepted the proposal. However, Commissioner Dave Storm abstained from the vote because he is employed at St. Anthony’s.

    Ryan Ellis can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 138, or at ryan.ellis@effinghamdailynews.com.

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