New True Grit facility would include indoor batting cages

Nov. 5—DANVILLE — A gym isn't the only part of True Grit Fitness owner Matt Stines' plans for a new athletic facility along North Vermilion Street.

New to the area as part of the building would be indoor batting cages.

Stines' and True Grit Fitness's rezoning request now moves onto the Danville City Council for action after the Danville Area Planning and Zoning Commission approved the rezoning request Thursday night for the construction of the new facility near Wal-Mart.

The commission voted 4-0, with commissioners Pete Goodwin, Tammy Wilson, Aaron Troglia and Justin Fleming voting for it, and commissioners Adam Brown, Michael Hall and Troy Savalick absent, to recommend approving a request by True Grit Fitness to amend the city's zoning map from B-2 Highway Commercial to B-3 General Commercial zoning for the vacant property at North Vermilion Street and Devonshire Drive for an athletic training facility.

The city council will act on the request on Nov. 15.

Stines is the owner of True Grit Fitness in Tilton. The Danville facility would be an expansion.

"We're pretty busy," he said, about why they are looking to expand into Danville.

The proposed site is 2.3 acres north of Devonshire Road on the west side of Route 1/Vermilion Street.

It'd be a 14,000 square foot building, half gym and half indoor batting cages.

Stines said there will be a good buffer to the north and south. They also will keep the tree line near the entrance to Devonshire Drive.

"I think that it's a less intrusive type of business for that area. I live in Devonshire myself. I think it's a good deal for the neighborhood ..., " Stines said.

He said they'll keep an eye on construction and make sure it's built properly and addresses any buffering concerns with the neighborhood.

He said the entrance to the facility will be off Denvonshire Drive. They didn't want to get the Illinois Department of Transporation involved with an entrance off Route 1.

Stines said Devonshire Drive is a Vermilion County Road.

He said they can improve that dark entrance area too with more lighting.

"I think if we can improve that section of Devonshire Road, it won't be so dark," he said.

The battling cages will be for people who want to practice all year round such as for youths in travel ball, like his son, and those with American Legion Post 210 Baseball, he said.

He said they've seen interest in this and "it's a good play off the gym."

With the Tilton gym, they also have a tanning salon, and it's not really catered toward the sports athlete, Stines said.

The Danville True Grit Fitness would be staffed from about 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

"It is a 24-hour facility," Stines said, but added that the batting cages would have more custom hours.

He said they have good security cameras, and "we haven't had any issues where we are at."

Some residents have concerns with the west side of the property near the townhomes and condos.

"We want to add some landscaping and trees and stuff," Stines said about having more of a buffer and another layer of trees.

Part of the timeline on constriction is not in Stines' control.

He said heating and air conditioning equipment is out many weeks for delivery.

"I wanted to be open by March," he said.

Now a more realistic timeframe is opening in April or May, he said.

Stines said Offutt Development owns the property, built the True Grit facility in Tilton and will be building this building.

"We had a good experiernce with that and would like to keep it the same, uniform," Stines said.

He too told Devonshire residents in attendance at the zoning meeting that "it's a quiet facility on the outside."

Commissioner Wilson said this will give something positive for youths to do to stay off the streets where they can get in trouble.

She also asked Stines to consider scholarships or financial assistance to help those serious about athletics to help pay for the costs for usage of the facility.

"I'm absolutely for it," Stines said.

Danville Community Development Administrator Logan Cronk said "this is honestly a dream case scenario for the surrounding community."

He said under current zoning for the vacant land, a truck stop or gas station could go there.

He said the city thinks it's a great fit to have an athletic facility and gymnasium there that even Devonshire residents can use.

"We're looking forward to working with them," Cronk said.

Commission chairman Goodwin also added that there has been some blight there at the site, with overgrown grass. He too thinks the athletic facility will look nice there.

In other business, the commission recommended approving:

* A special-use permit request from Jett and John Jansky to operate a tattoo parlor, as part of Jansky Studios Tattoo and Art Gallery, at 7 E. North St. in downtown Danville. The site, the North Street portion of the three-story commercial structure at Vermilion and North streets behind Sweet Repeats at the corner, is zoned B-4 Central Business in the downtown area. It is currently a private art studio.

Jett told the commission they'd been operating at a tattoo parlor on Gilbert Street. The business moved out of Danville.

"It is important for us to remain part of the community," Jett said.

He said he and his father have been part of the community for a long time. Many know Jett's father for his speed painting events.

Jett said hours at first for the art studio and tattoo parlor would be by appointment only. They may have set hours later. He said they usually have performed their work between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Cronk too said this was a dream case scenario for the property, with not too much traffic with the tattoo parlor.

A city request of a text amendment to Chapter 150.115 Table VII-2 standards for wall signs, of the city's zoning ordinance. Cronk said as the zoning ordinance is currently written, signs on larger buildings are limited three separate times, and aren't able to be seen with current restrictions on mega buildings now being built such as with FedEx, Carle and Viscofan's tower. McLane also would be allowed to put up large 'now hiring' temporary signage. In business and industrial districts, the maximum area of signs per frontage would be 10 percent of wall area. Being removed is up to a maximum of varying square feet, and square feet specified for maximum area of individual sign. The metric change is from a fixed maximum sign size, regardless of the size of the wall on which the sign will be affixed, to a ratio of maximum sign size to wall space. Cronk said the basis for the text amendment is that Danville is changing and growing. There's been confusion on signage and city officials think it's a little too restrictive. The change also will bring some current large signs on businesses into conformity. Cronk said the allotted wall coverage is not going to be intrusive to the community.