I read with great interest Trustee Jon Hale’s recent piece. [Be wary of oversimplifying the proposal, Viewpoints, Oct. 21] Jon contributes to the discourse by detailing his logic for his position. Chris Hamer’s Oct. 27 and Daniel Hurtado’s Nov. 3 rebuttals add to this discussion by giving additional details to further clarify this subsidy issue.

All three viewpoints should be required reading for all trustees and plan commissioners so that no one has oversimplified the merits and costs. So, I think Jon has done everyone a service by clarifying his position and attracting these thoughtful rebuttals representing views that otherwise may not be getting heard.

There are some overlooked subsidies being covered by building owners near the proposed development. Many bought property years ago, which included a basket of property protections as detailed in the zoning-law ordinances. Obviously we could have negotiated a lower price if there were the right to build a massive 20-story complex on an adjacent property. Conversely, all of Sertus’s land becomes much more valuable once the zoning variances are approved. Moreover, I contend that this new land wealth was not created out of thin air. Is this hidden subsidy too subtle for most?

So here’s an example. Let’s say a developer buys a single-family home next door to your home. Then the developer is harmlessly given a zoning variance to build a six-unit condo on that land. The developer will immediately make a bundle, the village will generate more tax revenues and area shoppers, and you only suffer a little inconvenience such as not being able to grow tomato plants in your backyard. No big deal?

No, it is a big deal and there is a trend in Oak Park to ignore property rights as demonstrated by recent Whiteco and Madison-Highlands controversies. And this is why neighborhoods are so overwhelmingly opposed to this stuff. It’s not NIMBY (not in my backyard); it’s fairness. Most people instinctively recognize a reverse Robin Hood subsidy when it hits them. That is, take from the powerless homeowner and give to the well-connected developer – all ostensibly for the greater public good. This opportunistic tactic really needs more exposure, along with a review of TIF (tax increment financing) during these times of operating-budget cuts and layoffs.

Anyway, the “greater public good” topic is one for another time.

Rich Fedrigon has owned a two-flat near Ontario and Forest in Oak Park since 1979, and has lived there most of those years. He is an electrical engineer and software project manager.

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