The River Forest village board shot down an ordinance restricting curb cuts for driveways and put the long derailed Historic Preservation ordinance back on the tracks during a lengthy and frequently contentious board meeting Monday night.

By a 4-2 vote, trustees defeated an ordinance that would have banned curb cuts in front of 446 houses which have alley access. Trustees Al Swanson and Patrick O’Brien voted in favor of the measure, which was intended to discourage the development of front yard attached garages. Both argued that the ordinance would help protect neighborhood character as well as preserve parkway land.

For some 75 minutes, the board then argued back and forth over the purpose and direction of a proposed Historic Preservation ordinance. The ordinance was first suggested nearly three years ago. Six months ago an ad hoc committee chaired by resident Laurel McMahon wrapped up two years of work on proposed wording for the ordinance. In the interim, though, the board struggled to develop any kind of workable compromise and consensus.

Addressing the board, McMahon was uncharacteristically blunt, telling them that they would be better off passing no ordinance than a watered down law that offers only restrictions and no incentives to property owners. Village housing consultant John Houseal joined McMahon in urging the board to bring in outside experts in historic preservation to educate them regarding the issues attendant to developing such an ordinance, which it agreed to do.

Gutierrez hiring confirmed

The inevitable appointment of Steve Gutierrez to replace retiring Village Administrator Chuck Biondo was also confirmed in a memo from Biondo to the board. Addressing concerns over possible legal confusion, Biondo noted that the original wording in his retirement plan “may cause confusion over the status of the appointment and authority of Mr. Gutierrez during the period of time between Feb. 2 and March 15.” Under changes suggested by Biondo and approved unanimously by the board, Biondo will now formally retire the afternoon of Feb. 2, and receive 28 days of accrued vacation on Feb. 15.

“The board could then appoint Mr. Gutierrez effective Saturday, Feb. 3,” Biondo wrote.

The board met in executive session after the open meeting, reportedly to finalize details of Gutierrez’s contract.

Join the discussion on social media!