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NORMAL - Several property owners along a proposed east-side highway corridor spoke against including it in Normal's comprehensive plan Thursday night.

But in the end, the planning commission was split on the idea.

"I don't have a problem with a study," said member Alan Sender, referring to a proposal for further study of the need for an east-side highway. "I think once you show it on the map, it's not something that's tentative; it's something permanent - developers will plan on it - residents will expect it to become a reality.

"I'm not convinced we need this kind of road."

Commission Chairwoman Jeanne Moonen disagreed, arguing if the road is not depicted on the map in the comprehensive plan, the land could be developed.

"It's hard to recapture land after it's been developed," she said.

City Manager Mark Peterson said if the proposed highway is on the map, the land would be protected from development, annexation and rezoning for about two years to allow the start of a study on the long-term transportation needs on the east side.

"All indications are growth will continue on the east side," Peterson said. "It behooves us to think about how to handle all the traffic."

But landowner Melvin Jeter said such a moratorium would unfairly put the investment in his property on hold.

"Two subdivisions were approved this winter in Bloomington. Why can developers continue to pursue profit but - I can't?" Jeter asked.

Landowner Jerry Hayden agreed, saying a moratorium would take the price of his property from $40,000 an acre for a subdivision to $5,000 an acre for farmland. "That's not fair to me," he said.

Commission member Rick Boser questioned why the corridor should be on Normal's plan when it only involved a short distance and was in an area that couldn't be developed without major infrastructure improvements that so far the City Council has not been willing to do.

"Bloomington needs to be in a position to deal with their expansion, but our area is clear," he said.

The proposed corridor starts just south of Towanda on Interstate 55, runs parallel to County Road 2000 East until about County Road 1300 North, where it begins moving west, eventually crossing Towanda-Barnes Road and connecting with Interstate 74 west of Downs.


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