Biondo lays out 'state' of River Forest

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By MELISSA LOU

Prosperity and economic development in Oak Park, Forest Park and River Forest were highlighted during the annual State of the Villages Dinner March 4, hosted by the League of Women Voters.

Representing the Village of River Forest, Village Administrator Charles Biondo also spoke of his village's prosperity and of the intergovernmental agreements that have allowed River Forest to grow and provide quality services to its residents at reduced costs.

"We are doing just fine," Biondo said. "We are building 3-5 new homes per year. Numerous additions and renovations are going on that boggle my imagination; permit fees show positive growth each and every year."

As an example, he said, "In 1987 we took in $48,000 in permit fees. Staff has just completed its budget proposal for '05-'06 beginning this coming May. We are projecting $382,000 in permit fees, almost an 8-time increase."

River Forest, he said, is also showing growth in the multifamily area, in the commercial and, especially, in the institutional area.

In addition, Biondo said, River Forest's TIF district, created in 1986, generated more than $4 million in incremental tax revenue in 2004.

Biondo used the opportunity to point out that the village will also be investing in beautification projects as part of its 125th anniversary, creating an east entryway for the village, similar to the one that exists in the western part of town.

However, Biondo told the crowd, "It's not all fun and games. We are having some discussion about the consideration of a moratorium on single family development, which involves teardowns. We are averaging 5-6 teardowns a year, and the last couple of years we have begun to notice that the replacement homes are causing problems in terms of the homes being?#34;in the opinion of the residents and the community?#34;out of character with the existing homes surrounding them."

To remedy this, he said, the Zoning Board of Appeals has recommended a 60-day moratorium to complete their ongoing review of zoning regulations.

The village, he said, is also implementing its multi-year street improvement plan which replaces use of overlays with a 60-year replacement program that involves full reconstruction, followed by four periods of 12 years each resurfacing the roadway.

Biondo also spoke about the intergovernmental agreements River Forest has with its neighboring villages.

"In 2002 the Village of Oak Park and the Village of River Forest initiated the West Suburban Consolidated Dispatch Center and that has been up and operating very well," he said. "It allowed us on a cost-shared basis to provide some services such as Emergency Medical Dispatch which we could not have provided on our own. In April of this year, Village of Elmwood Park will join us."
CONTACT: mlou@wjinc.com

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