Language protecting single-family homes in the proposed Madison Street TIF is included as part of a rewrite of the proposed Madison Street TIF district plan, which will be available for public viewing next month.

Before a sparse audience, trustees approved a motion Monday night that set Aug. 8 as the date when that amended plan and the amended housing impact study will be placed on the village website. Documents must be reviewed and commented on by trustees before they become public. 

On Aug. 22, the board plans to adopt an ordinance that will set the dates for a public hearing and a meeting of the TIF joint review board. Both sessions will be open to the public.

Language addressing eminent domain also will be part of the TIF ordinance, which will not be up for a vote by the village board until later this fall.

The board’s move seemed anti-climactic as the question of eminent domain had been vigorously debated since April and had become the principal issue residents living in the area adjacent to Madison Street. Neighborhood residents and others demanded that River Forest address eminent domain concerns before creating a TIF district. 

According to the new language, 22 homes in the first blocks of Ashland, Forest, Keystone, Lathrop Avenue and Park avenues will not be the subject of acquisition by the village under eminent domain during the 23-year life of the TIF.

A future board wanting to change the TIF ordinance and use the right of eminent domain against those homes would require the village to give notice, convene a joint review board and conduct a public hearing, since it would be a substantial change, according to the language.

With the language, “it is almost impossible for future boards not to understand the village’s intention,” Village President Catherine Adduci said. 

Said Trustee Susan Conti, “I hope and pray that you will sleep at night without fear; that nothing … will happen to your property.”

The TIF redevelopment and project plan will set out how the village plans to revitalize Madison, and residents in the TIF were skeptical about it.  

In referring to the plan, Adduci pointed out that if the decline in property assessments doesn’t “motivate the board to consider the TIF redevelopment plan as a long-term vision and strategy for the community, then I don’t know what would.”

According to the redevelopment plan, the equalized assessed value of land in the proposed TIF area, an important element in determining home values, declined 3.7 percent from 2014 to 2015. 

The housing impact study was updated to include River Forest residential properties if relocation was necessary and it also clarified racial and ethnic composition data. Residents had objected to the initial housing study, because it contained few options for relocating to residences in River Forest should they be displaced as part of any redevelopment.

For two years, River Forest has studied the feasibility of using the public financing method to subsidize redevelopment along Madison Street west of Lathrop Avenue. In May, trustees adopted a series of measures to create the TIF, but decided to rewrite them and other documents after residents persisted in their objections to the TIF process.

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