Oak Park’s village board will hold a closed-door meeting to discuss ways to encourage developer Bob Allen to build a development more suited to the 400 block of North Maple Avenue and its residents.

Allen has proposed building a four-story, 11-unit condominium building on two lots on the block.

Neighbors have fought the proposal for months, looking to change the zoning on the block and designate any of the three buildings on Allen’s two parcels as historical landmarks. All of those efforts have failed.

In a study session last Thursday night, the five trustees present agreed that although none was keen to open the taxpayers’ checkbook to make up profits Allen might lose if the building were shorter and redesigned, other options might be available. Trustees Ray Johnson and Geoff Baker were absent.

The board will consult its attorney on whether Allen will attend the meeting or the board will communicate via staff members with the developer.

Also, to address the larger issue of tearing down single-family and smaller multifamily structures in favor of larger, denser ones, the board proposed putting a limited moratorium on some teardowns.

“We need to have some courage as a board,” Trustee Robert Milstein urged. “We are at a stage where we need to ask ourselves, ‘How can we get ahead of ourselves to stop teardowns?'”

The moratorium would expire in 90 days and only affect single-family homes, and two- to six-flat buildings in areas zoned R-6 or R-7. Those areas allow for larger, denser multifamily buildings.

The board is expected to have a first reading on the moratorium July 27 with a vote expected July 31, the board’s last meeting before its August break.

The 400 block of North Maple Avenue is zoned R-7. Allen’s 45-foot-tall, 11-unit condo building would make the most of allowable zoning.

Neighbors tried to down-zone the block to R-6, which would theoretically require the building to be lowered by one story and be limited to nine condos.

Because Allen applied for permits ahead of proposed zoning changes, Village Attorney Ray Heise has told the board in public meetings that any rezoning would not apply to Allen’s proposal.

Although a moratorium would not affect Allen’s proposal, it would keep similar developments from happening before the board gets a report on R-7/R-6 areas and how they might be re-zoned. Village Planner Craig Failor is expected to deliver a report to the board on those areas in October.

“I’m loathe to do it [pass a moratorium] under any circumstances,” said Trustee Greg Marsey, who said he would support the proposed moratorium only if it were strictly limited in time and location.

Village President David Pope said the village’s teardown ordinance has worked well to prevent teardowns in areas zoning only for single-family homes by reducing financial incentives for demolishing smaller homes to make way for larger, new homes, often called “McMansions.”

The board last week did not support Trustee Elizabeth Brady’s proposal to begin a village-wide review of residential zoning, which would likely take a year to complete. However, after the meeting, Milstein said the board would likely be in favor of the rezoning, just not as a way to address teardowns.

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