No more home demolitions as River Forest OKs moratorium

? Votes 4-2 to not accept new applications for demolition and construction permits related to single family homes.

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By BILL DWYER

Following 75 minutes of testimony, comment, confusion and occasional testiness, the River Forest Village Board Monday approved a moratorium on the demolition and subsequent replacement construction of single family homes in the village.

In a 4-2 vote, with Michael O'Connell and Deborah Graham voting no, trustees directed village staff to stop accepting any applications for demolition and construction permits related to the tear down and subsequent rebuilding of single family residences, effective at 8 a.m. Tuesday. That moratorium will be in effect until the village's Zoning Board of Appeals can further study and consider changes to River Forest's Zoning Code regarding set backs and overall residential density.

While the precise wording is likely to change slightly, the trustees added an additional third section in the resolution that would say "Village staff is hereby directed to, as of 8 a.m., January 25, to no longer accept applications for demolition  and/or construction permits of single family homes which result in the construction of replacement single family homes."

"I think, basically this says that the four (homes) that (have filed applications) already will go through," said Village Administrator Charles Biondo Tuesday. Biondo and village staff were well aware that a number of homeowners or would be homeowners who were already in the middle of the application process had expressed concern that any moratorium could be frustrating at least, and expensive at worst.

Biondo had distributed a memo to trustees last Friday attached to the proposed resolution. noting that two pending permits were already on file at the village. Monday he noted that that number had increased to four.

The owners of one of those homes, Joanne and Jack Kennelly had already entered into a sales agreement with a developer, Pamela Whitehead of P & P Builders. Whitehead is planning to divide the 102-foot by 185-foot lot at 1521 Forest, which has a single ranch house sitting on a double lot, to two distinct 51 x 185 foot lots with single family homes on each. The Kennelly's told the board that Whitehead's offer was significantly higher than offers from individuals seeking to build a single large home on the double lot. That money, they told the board, is intended for the long term care of Joanne Kennelly's father, who moved out of the home last year.

"If you were to restrict this permit, you've killed the deal," Joanne Kennelly told the trustees, adding, "We depend- he depends- on the sale of this property."

While some, including Graham and Village President Frank Paris, weren't particularly swayed by such individual economic concerns, others were bothered that the village might disrupt plans already in process, including O'Connell.

"We have to be careful about situations where (people) have made an application before this meeting," he said. "I'm loathe to support a moratorium where we have something as (on the cusp) as this."

Nancy Dillon agreed, telling her colleagues, "The applications are already in. They should be honored."

Biondo, challenging the trustees to refine and focus their wording, said at one point, "The problem is not a proactive moratorium, but a retroactive moratorium."

The trustees struggled for some time to craft language that would include all four applications currently on file. At around the 45 minute point, Trustee Al Swanson recommended wording of the third section that was eventually adopted by the other board members, after another 30 minutes of parsing terms.
CONTACT: bdywer@wjinc.com

The board temporarily approved no parking set backs on all four corners of the intersection at Augusta Blvd. and Jackson. Those set backs will each be 20 feet from the nearest crosswalk, with the intent of avoiding visual obstructions to drivers approaching the intersection, which had three serious accidents in 2004. A proposed ordinance related to the issue, which was inadvertently not listed on the posted board agenda, and therefore could not be voted on that night, was rescheduled for the Feb. 28 board meeting.

? Approved a payment of $318,949 to the Intergovernmental Risk Management Agency (IRMA) for its 2005 obligations. IRMA acts as the village's insurer for such matters as Workmen's Compensation and costs related to lawsuits.

Questioned by several trustees about the 10 percent increase in that payment over last year, Biondo noted that the village has had "loss experiences" in two of the three past years. Those losses, he said, were due to "mostly workmen's comp," though he then added "We've had a couple of lawsuits in there too."

Asked later about the two lawsuits filed by River Forest police officers in federal court in 2003 and 2004, Biondo declined to comment.

? Witnessed the swearing in of River Forest's two newest police officers, recruits Michael Swierczynski and Benjamin Baird.
?#34;Bill Dwyer

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