Oak Park voters Tuesday will have a single local initiative on the ballot: a referendum created by the activist group REDCOOP asking voters whether they want earlier citizen input when the village develops property it owns.
That’s a summary of a three-sentence referendum that has elicited some confusion from Oak Parkers. Opponents say the initiative does not comply with state rules for referenda: it is not a yes or no question, and opponents say it does not describe a clear policy objective.
Members of the Oak Park Board of Trustees interviewed for this story said that while the initiative raises important issues, it is not necessarily clear from the language of the referndum what voters will be voting for.
Other trustees said it is unnecessary, and that trustees are elected to make decisions for the village.
The language of the referendum reads like this:
“The Village of Oak Park shall prepare a specific Development Plan prior to selling or improving any property in which it has an interest. Each Development Plan must recognize the need to preserve and enhance the surrounding neighborhood character while improving the commercial district. The Village shall obtain citizen input and participation during the preparation and approval process.”
State law mandates public hearings before any development is approved by the village. Those public hearings have been held by the village with each development.
But REDCOOP argues the public should be consulted in public meetings on what developments should look like even before the village seeks developers.