Driving along River Forest’s streets, it’s not hard to find a fine-looking home. The village is filled with gorgeously sculpted works of residential architecture.

But in the wake of some notable River Forest homes’ destruction, the historic preservation commission is trying to put some teeth into the village’s ordinance aimed at preserving important homes.

The big things they’re hoping to gain, according to commission chair Laurel McMahon? The ability to stop people from demolishing homes.

Right now, the village can hold hearings on a home’s demolition, but they can’t force the homeowner to come to them, either.

“We spent several years crafting the (current) ordinance based on what we thought we could get passed,” said McMahon. “We didn’t propose an ordinance that we thought was best for the community.”

However, when a historic home designed by architect William Drummond at 839 Park Ave. was demolished a year ago, McMahon said the commission realized its ordinance needed strengthening.

“You can’t always trust that people are going to do the right thing by the community,” McMahon said.

Thursday, at their first meeting since talking with the village board in October, the commission discussed how to move forward on the project.

They’re hoping to work out the exact language of the new ordinance and hold a public hearing on it in February, gauging opinion from River Forest residents.

“We know that River Forest has a long history of being a property rights community,” McMahon said. “We have to persuade people that the greater good sometimes takes precedence over the individuals.”

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Ben Meyerson

Ben was Wednesday Journal's crime, parks, and River Forest reporter, until he kept bugging us enough to promote him. Now he's managing two of Wednesday Journal's sister papers in the city, Chicago Journal...