A timeline has been tentatively crafted for the rest of the hearings and the deliberations on the Roosevelt Middle School exterior project, targeting Feb. 23 as the date when River Forest’s village trustees will decide whether the project can go forward, village officials said last week. 

The next session is scheduled for Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Willard Elementary when the public library will offer its own expert witness, said Frank Martin, chair of the development review board, which is hearing the case. Attorney Mark Daniel, who represents five opponents to the project – Patty Henek, Ed and Gina Voci, Greg Bayles and Jeff Hill – will make another presentation before the DRB, Martin said.

“I don’t know what he’s going to say. I expect he’s going to review whether the standards will have been met,” Martin said.

After that presentation, the audience will have the right to question the library’s witness. And the District 90 school district can then present any information it wants to clarify matters or rebut anything that’s been said since the district put its application out there near the end of October, Martin said.

At that point, perhaps on Jan. 22 or on Jan. 29, public testimony will end and the DRB will begin discussing and asking questions of witnesses. Final recommendations and findings of fact from the DRB will be prepared after that. The findings is a report for village trustees that present the DRB’s assessment of whether the project meets village standards.

Recommendations will be approved as early as Feb. 5. From there, the DRB’s assessment will go to the board of trustees. Trustees will have up to 30 days to uphold or overturn the DRB’s recommendations. 

Village President Catherine Adduci said the issue will “get on the board agenda in a reasonable time when we receive it,” she said. 

Residents living within 500 feet of Roosevelt will be notified 10 days in advance of when trustees will take up the matter, Village Administrator Eric Palm said. 

Martin and Palm talked about the timeframe after the third public hearing was conducted on Dec. 18. During that two-and-one-half-hour meeting residents were able to query district witnesses and make statements. 

It was the third public hearing related to the project, and Martin said when this is all completed it will be the longest and most complicated application the DRB has ever heard. It is not the first time that residents have been represented by an attorney in proceedings before his commission.

There are many elements the DRB has to consider, Martin said. “There are efforts by many people to prepare documents they want us to consider, and they all will be considered. A lot of people expressed their opinions, and we want to let everyone tell us what they are concerned about,” he said.

District 90 first began working on presenting its project three years ago. The proposal on the table was one approved in December 2013 and has been tweaked to include 46 parking spots — 20 in the North lot, 11 short-term spots in a reconfigured lot by the auditorium, five in Circle Drive. Ten spots on the north side of Oak also were added, spots which came out of the village’s Traffic and Safety Commission recommendations, which were approved this fall by the village board of trustees. An expanded play lot and outdoor education space and a library book drop also would be added. The long-standing drainage problems at the school also will be addressed.

Proponents, including the executive boards of the district’s PTOs and other groups, have contended that the renovations at Roosevelt would allow for all-year-around recess, improve stormwater management and keep children safe. Supporters also believe the plan meets the parking requirements.

Opponents have long contended that the project does not resolve long-standing parking issues, particularly for the library, which is situated across the North lot from the school’s main entrance. In addition, opponents have said that parking and traffic issues around Roosevelt – an area formally known as the Public, Recreational and Institutional district – would lower property values.

The DRB is required to conduct hearings because District 90 is seeking an amendment to a planned development permit granted in 1997 tied to renovations to the school’s gymnasium. 

Fast Facts

  • Final decision on contentious Roosevelt School plan due from village board in late February
  • In January, public library next to make its arguments on parking
  • Longest, most complex case ever before Development Review Board, says chair

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