Farmer City takes no action on controversial land swap

FARMER CITY — About a dozen local residents showed up to a Farmer City Council meeting this week to see if city officials planned on taking any immediate action on a possible land swap deal with a former Farmer City resident.

Although the Aug. 5 agenda included an executive session to discuss the purchase of property, Mayor Mike Jenkins said the land in question was not the 5 acres owned by Jim Swartz.

"I can assure you that this is not to close the streets and this is not to sell anything to Casey's," Jenkins said.

Following an executive session, the council approved the $500 purchase of one-quarter of an acre along Illinois 54 from William Perhay. City Manager Larry Woliung said the land was purchased for possible future development.

City officials have been negotiating with Jim Swartz, a former Farmer City resident and landowner, for the past year in the hopes of gaining 5 acres of land near The Dollar General in Farmer City. The city then plans to sell the land to Casey's, which wants to rebuild a bigger store.

In exchange for the 5 acres, Swartz, who currently owns an estate encompassing large sections of land on Green and Market Street, has requested ownership of two one-block sections of West Street, totaling about half an acre.

If Swartz were given the property, two segments of West Street would then be closed to traffic permanently, prohibiting drivers from going north or south on West Street between Market and Water Street.

Many people in the community have voiced their opposition to the land swap with Swartz.

Marci Hobbs spoke out against the idea at the council meeting.

"Nobody I've talked to wants to see a trade for the city streets," said Hobbs.

Jenkins said if the land swap issue would go to a vote, a public meeting would be held prior to the council taking any action.

"I will announce at a council meeting that we will have a public meeting two weeks from that day," he said.

The public meeting would be held directly before the council meeting where the vote will take place.

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