My wife and I, and our three young boys, live on the 500-600 block of Franklin, in the heart of the River Forest Historic District, which is certified and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Our block includes nine homes on the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency’s Properties with Architectural and/or Archeological Significance?#34;three are also on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service National Registry of Historic Places, with four other lovely large older homes on 75- to 100-foot-wide lots with significant open space, and the remaining, well-maintained homes on lots 50 feet wide?#34;some just as handsome as their more historic neighbors.
If you love River Forest and are concerned that the existing physical character of the village, which both the 2003 Comprehensive Plan and the River Forest Zoning Ordinance clearly support, is now slipping away, then you should plan to attend, speak firmly, and be heard clearly. The “proposed” River Forest Historic Preservation Ordinance, with worthy issues to be discussed and debated, is a different topic for a different day.
Thursday, July 13, is reserved for a topic which is not debatable?#34;the enforcement of the “existing written” River Forest Zoning Ordinance.
What are we appealing?
A private December 2005 letter, from village staff, to an heir of 620 Franklin St., incorrectly applying the River Forest Zoning Ordinance to the facts related to the residence.
Why are we appealing?
For several reasons?#34;one is that the River Forest Zoning Ordinance, Chapter 19, Planned Developments, recognizes “that there are certain uses, whether or not permitted or special, which because of their scope, location or specific characteristics give rise to the need for a more comprehensive consideration of their impact both with regard to the neighboring land and the village in general. Such uses as fall within the provisions of this section shall only be permitted if authorized as a planned development.” Chapter 19, Planned Development, furthermore, indicates that, “No development of 20,000 Sq. Ft. or more of land area or gross floor area … shall be permitted unless approved as a planned development in accordance with this chapter.” The land area in question is 20,140 square feet. A Planned Development Application is not an option, it is mandatory.
Enforcement of the River Forest Zoning Ordinance, provides several options: 1) the seller may seek to obtain a variance, 2) the seller may seek to amend the existing written River Forest Zoning Ordinance, or 3) the seller make seek approval as a Planned Development by filing a Planned Development Application. However, violation of the River Forest Zoning Ordinance is not an option?#34;for the seller, for the buyer, or for the village.
At the June 12 trustee meeting, our trustees voiced frustration that the developer of 510 Keystone, which was reported to have exceeded the maximum permitted height requirement, was only fined a one-time-fine of $1,000. Our trustees were right to be frustrated, as not only does 510 Keystone reportedly violate the maximum permitted height requirement of the River Forest Zoning Ordinance, the $1,000 one-time-fine clearly violated Section 10-22-2, “Violations and Penalties,” of the River Forest Zoning Ordinance, which provides for no such discretion. Instead it only provides for a fine of up to $750 per day, every day, until compliance.
Why is enforcement such a big deal?
The River Forest Zoning Ordinance prohibits Gun Shops, Tattoo Parlors, and Off-Track Betting Facilities. We live in a free country with personal freedom. However, our zoning ordinance lawfully prohibits these uses in River Forest.
What is the right balance?
Our zoning ordinance protects the rights of every landowner, both individually and collectively as a community. Thus it balances the rights of each individual landowner. When people choose to live in a community and choose to receive the benefits of that community, they also assume certain obligations to preserve the values of that community. Zoning laws are, in fact, restrictions, which speak to this tradeoff?#34;receipt of benefits in exchange for acceptance of certain obligations.
Am I speaking alone?
Drive by our block, 500-600 Franklin. The “Blue Ribbons” represent families who are landowners, taxpayers, and constituents of our elected village leadership, who firmly believe that enforcement of the River Forest Zoning Ordinance, protects our village and all of us, both collectively and individually.
Do you agree with our block, 500-600 Franklin?
Call our elected village president and trustees?#34;their contact information is on the village website. Thank them for serving in a leadership capacity. Let them know whether you think enforcing the River Forest Zoning Ordinance is a big deal. Tell them what you think and why.