In a significant moment on July 31, the village board took another important step in preserving the architectural integrity of our village. Bob Milstein put forward a proposal that calls for a temporary cessation and review of the destruction of our housing stock in areas zoned for multiple family residences. Our thanks to President Pope and trustees Milstein, Brady, Brock and Marsey for their courage and leadership in voting for this moratorium.
To many residents, zoning may seem an abstraction, but in fact, the zoning process defines the shape of our neighborhoods. Trustee Milstein showed sensitivity when he led the effort to review zoning ordinances that originated years ago and are no longer relevant to our needs. It happens that in neighborhoods of predominantly single family homes, R6 and R7 zoning allows for an uncontrolled “infestation” of condominiums. Some would say this is gentrification, but others would say that we are fighting a modern-day blight that compromises the soul of this village.
Often, historic neighborhoods that are adjacent to major thoroughfares are caught in a multifamily zoning bind that puts them at risk for much larger, denser development. Presently, there are approximately 288 single-family homes and vintage two- and three-flats that are vulnerable to demolition.
When homes zoned for multiple families lie outside the protection of the historic districts, they can be torn down and replaced with high-density projects. Without protection, the bulldozers can come in and destroy overnight the charm, grace and continuity that generations have built. This happened recently in the 400 block of South Kenilworth and may be happening soon in the 400 block of North Maple. For many of us, the zoning process is the only way to protect the quality of life that brought us to this village. Our tree-lined streets, our privacy, our green space, our sunlight and air are literally at stake.
We appreciate the board’s recognition that the “negative impacts” associated with the teardown phenomena in these districts must be addressed. Their concerns about the necessity of preserving community character and ensuring appropriate development define the essence of the challenge facing our community.
Tom Ard, Tom Broderick, Jo Ellen Davey-Cohen, Judy Erickson, Jean Heyes, Bernell Loeb, Ray Muccianti, Terrie Rymer, Julie Samuels, Frank Vozak
Village Citizens Alliance Steering Committee