Independent Media Center

The Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center is shown in October 2015 in downtown Urbana.

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URBANA — Alderman Jared Miller said he’s volunteering his time to continue ongoing talks between the city and the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center as they begin to draft a “memorandum of understanding.”

The memo is one part of a deal that Mayor Diane Marlin outlined Wednesday that saw the city remove a 12-month probationary period and fines and give back $300 in permit fees paid by the IMC since disputes started over the city’s enforcement of its special-events ordinance.

Urbana takes IMC off probation, removes fines, refunds permit fees

Miller, who has promoted shows at the IMC in the past, said it can be very easy for those who don’t attend or put on shows there to “not understand the nuance of what can happen at certain kinds of events.” He said there are a lot of “misnomers” when it comes to the types of risk factors that end up causing problems.

It won’t come down to specific rules singling out specific types of events at the IMC, but rather a look at risk factors that, if tallied up, could lead to further scrutiny by the IMC or the city, Miller said.

“The hope is to craft language that will take those things into account while not putting people in a burdensome situation,” Miller said. “I think largely it will end up being less language in a regulatory sense.”

Along with meetings at the IMC and the city as the two groups draft the memo, the Illinois Arts Council will be paying the IMC a visit July 17 when state and local officials will tour the facility.

The city and the IMC will also be hosting a meeting July 28 with people who use the space to tell them about the new guidelines for the center. But it’s clear to Miller that the key to those new rules will be balance.

“The balance between the consumption at a small event as opposed to at, say, the Pygmalion” festival, Miller said. “There’s a big difference between that and when you only have 30 people in attendance and half of them are in the bands playing. I don’t want the language putting those people in a situation that is unnecessary and doesn’t warrant the effort on the city’s part.”

In other business, Alderman Dennis Roberts sparked a conversation at Monday’s council meeting after a vote to consider a major exception to the city’s zoning rules to allow a sign for the new Culver’s at the corner of University Avenue and Race Street.

Roberts said the city ought to consider the kinds of signs it allows businesses to put up, noting that it has a lot of leeway in regulating them.

“I think we should be having a conversation about the direction of signage along these corridors,” Roberts said, listing some free-standing signs in the city.

“My concern is that the monument sign is a more progressive and modern way of looking at signage on arteries. We don’t want to be having things up on poles but going to a lower, landscaping-focused sign usage.”