East Hazel Crest gets 6 months to study water switch

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East Hazel Crest gets 6 months to study water switch

October 03, 2021 - 21:58
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The Homewood village board approved a memorandum of understanding Sept. 28 that gives East Hazel Crest six months to complete due diligence on switching its Lake Michigan water source from Harvey to Homewood.

Homewood’s transition in water suppliers means there are several water tests, engineering, cost sharing and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency requirements that must be evaluated, according to the village. The MOU with East Hazel Crest outlines a six-month period to attend to some of those matters and to resolve issues to permit the purchase of water.

“Both municipalities will work together to review information, reports, plans and documents to enable us to begin to negotiate a contract,” Jim Marino, village manager, said in an email to the board.

Purchasing from Homewood would allow East Hazel Crest to pay a lower cost for water and it would add revenue into Homewood’s water fund. That money would be used to cover costs of maintaining the water system, according to information provided by Homewood.

Homewood is in the process of changing its water supplier from Harvey to Chicago Heights. When the village’s current contract with Harvey expires at the end of 2022, a 25-year agreement with Chicago Heights will begin.

According to the agreement with Chicago Heights, the initial rate Homewood will pay for water will be $4.05 per 1,000 gallons. Hammond, Indiana, from which Chicago Heights gets Lake Michigan water, will be paid $2.05 of that cost. The rate will be adjusted each year based on the consumer price index. Any increase cannot be less than 1% or more than 3%.

In other business, Homewood approved a ordinance aiming to seek alternative bids and proposals for the development of the former Borgart’s Charhouse at 18225 Dixie Highway.

The building on the property was demolished with the help of the Cook County Sheriff’s Restoring Neighborhoods Workforce program and now, the village is looking to move forward with development. In a village document, Marino said the redevelopment would benefit Homewood through property tax and sales tax revenue.

The Homewood Brewing Company submitted a letter of intent to purchase the property and to develop a single-story brewery and restaurant. In his memo, Marino said the village is prepared to move forward with this proposal, it is required to give other interested parties a chance to submit alternate proposals.

Village Attorney Chris Cummings said when the village sells property it owns within a TIF district and is looking to sell it for less than 80% of the appraised value, it must advertise for alternate bids.

Trustee Jay Heiferman wondered whether a lack of bids would automatically ensure a sale to the Homewood Brewing Company.

“No, there’s no contract to sell at this point,” Cummings explained. “This is just we’re putting it out there and at some point in the future that would all have to come back before the board.”

Proposals must be submitted to the village by 5 p.m. on Oct. 12.

Homewood and Flossmoor entered a similar agreement last year. Marino said officials from both villages are working on a contract. Flossmoor has purchased water from Homewood for years.