The River Forest village board put off a final decision on amendments to the village’s residential zoning ordinance following 30 minutes of discussion Monday night.

With two versions of the proposed ordinance before the board, Trustee Al Swanson expressed reservations about coming to any conclusions in the absence of technical guidance from village housing expert John Houseal, who was absent due to a scheduling conflict. One version would allow property owners with houses on multiple “lots of record,” that is, lots registered separately with the county, to split those properties. The other would require owners building a home on such multiple lots to obtain a “Plat of Consolidation,” legally creating one single larger lot. When Swanson urged more extended dialogue, village attorney Jon Gilbert nodded in agreement and said, “That’s an important thing to consider.”

Gilbert told the trustees that they were making a crucial philosophical distinction regarding basic values in the ordinance. “Do you want to preserve the original character of the block, or do you want to allow the owner of multiple properties to (split them) and get the value of them.”

Assistant Village Manager Steve Guitierez drew considerable interest from board members when he informed them that village staff had prepared three maps showing the formal plats, or property lots of record. Those maps showed clearly that the vast majority of residential lots in the village, including several large 200 foot or more parcels, were legally a collection of smaller 50 foot lots.

That issue did in fact generate a robust discussion amongst board members, but little resolution. When Trustee Patrick O’Brien suggested tabling the matter until the July 11 meeting, Swanson quickly seconded it and the board unanimously approved.

In other developments the board:

Approved zoning variances by 5-1 votes for a new garage at 7911 Oak, and two set back variances for an addition at 534 Bonnie Brae.

For Heidi Brunet, the owner of 7911 Oak, the third time before the board was the charm. Brunet, standing with her attorney, informed the board that she had reduced the scale of a proposed garage to 20 X 20 feet, from 24 X 24 feet. Brunet and her partner had appeared before the board on two other occasions and been rejected both times, despite prior unanimous approval by the Zoning Board of Appeals. This time Trustee Barbara Graham, assured that all of Brunet’s neighbors were OK with the smaller garage, voted in the affirmative, along with Trustee Nancy Dillon.

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