The village board will address key zoning issues and the possibility of a development moratorium at a study session next week.

The moratorium was one of multiple tools raised by trustees to control what will be built in the village. Others involved tweaking zoning laws, including lowering the maximum height of downtown developments from 125 feet to 85 feet (the height of the Marshall Field’s building, as recommended in the Greater Downtown Master Plan), easing setback requirements for residential or mixed-use projects in business districts, and developing a design standards committee.

The village will move ahead with lowering the downtown height restriction, and will seek the advice of Don Arambula, who helped fashion the downtown master plan, on creating a design standards group.

The issues were raised near the end of a long meeting Monday night, with one trustee saying the moratorium discussion could last until 2 a.m. if not tabled.

In August, Wednesday Journal reported that a development moratorium on Madison Street while a master plan is created for the corridor would not likely be necessary, according to Trustee Robert Milstein and President David Pope. Pope said Tuesday he still believes that, and that adjusting zoning laws would obviate a moratorium.

In a memo, village attorney Ray Heise advises the board that implementing a
moratorium for a “reasonable” amount of time while a study is conducted is well within the village’s power. People who had already applied for building permits would have a “vested right” in obtaining those
permits, but that right would not apply to people who had applied for special use
permits or for planned development permits?#34;two kinds of permits required when what’s being built does not conform with zoning.

The board will discuss the issue and other solutions at a Sept. 26 study session.

Early retirement OK’d

Village employees nearing retirement age will have the opportunity to buy up to five years of age or service through a new early retirement incentive approved by the village board Monday night.

The board voted 5-2 to approve the early
retirement plan, which village staff explained is different from the pension and early retirement incentives offered to teachers.

Village estimates show that the plan will not save money but for “managed attrition,” or leaving some vacancies created by early retirement open for three months or longer, and by not filling 18 percent of the vacancies at all.

Arguments for the plan include cost savings (when properly managed), and opportunities for advancement within the staff.

Village President David Pope led the dissent, pegging the per-employee cost of the program at $130,000.

“I’m not confident the economic return we project will ultimately be realized,” Pope said.

Similarly, Trustee Elizabeth Brady said, “I don’t think the numbers are bad, I think the assumptions are.”

Pope said he expected that for the most important jobs at the village no vacancy periods could be endured, and called the program a “blunt tool,” applying only to “a broad class of individuals.”

Pope recommended the village hire a consultant to identify other human resources solutions.

New liquor license

Tim Colestock, owner of Cabernet & Co., 732 Lake St., urged the board to reconsider approving a liquor license for The Abbey, a wine bar concept planned for the Lake Room space, 728 Lake St., whose special liquor license was up for approval and was slated to include sales of wine to go.

Colestock said wine sold by distributors to on-premise-consumption establishments is cheaper than that sold to off-premise stores like his. Also, The Abbey would be able to sell wine well after his shop closes at 7 p.m.

Trustee Elizabeth Brady said she wasn’t sure the board “vetted enough” the idea of buying packaged wine until late hours, and Trustee Ray Johnson was concerned about allowing patrons to leave with additional bottles of wine after they had been drinking.

The board voted to amend The Abbey’s license to include on-premise consumption only, then approved the license. Trustees told Colestock that their concerns?#34;not competition reasons?#34;swayed their decision.

Parking in DTOP

The village reviewed a half-dozen proposals to improve parking in Downtown Oak Park after the village board’s decision to not fast-track an expansion of the Holley Court garage.

Plans include new signs directing drivers to the garage, re-striping the garage to make room for 50 to 60 more vehicles, and reserving the approximately 140 lower level spaces for short-term use.

Valet parking and paving a lot just west of the garage were nixed, however the lot will be made available for parking for construction personnel working on a mixed-use building on Lake Street.

?#34;Drew Carter

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