The article on the requested zoning change for a proposed Home Avenue townhome project [Home Ave. development goes to village board for vote, News, Sept. 28], which is opposed by neighbors (the sign next door declares: “Zoning Laws Are For Everyone”), reports that the developer has given up on the Oak Park Plan Commission, which voted to approve it but failed to achieve the necessary quorum, and he is taking the matter directly to the village board.
I have no dog in the fight. I’m just an Oak Parker who has passed the site most days for over 40 years and has always admired the grand old Victorian house that is the only building there, but I found the article illuminating on the workings of village government.
The zoning request would permit 12 units to be built on the site, although the developer indicates only four are intended. The Plan Commission attorney, however, asserted that no deed restriction to four units could be considered; others are quoted as agreeing that the choice is strictly between existing zoning and what has been requested. Given that, it seems clear the pledge to build only four units isn’t worth the paper it isn’t written on.
Putin swore in February he would not invade Ukraine. But one need not attribute such bad faith to the developer to conclude that 12 units would eventually be built. People make honest changes of judgment. And the next owner is not likely to want to make only what he can from four units, when he could put up 12. The village board has to take this as an application to put up 12 units.
Whatever number is built, the neighboring property values would certainly go down. The condo balconies presently face a large sunny, peaceful green lawn would face the back side of the new townhouses.
While those owners took their chances when they bought, that risk only involved whatever present zoning would permit (a house?); not the backside of a large multi-unit building. The proposed change seems quite unfair to them.
Why would governmental officials OK that unfairness, and change the zoning? To satisfy the wishes of a developer who is not satisfied to make what money he could under current zoning law?
The comments of the three commission members who voted for the change are arrogant, bordering on ignorant. All favored more units to produce more village revenue. Since that would be done at the cost to the neighbors’ property values, it bespeaks an attitude symptomatic of a disease that afflicts all too many public officials: a ready willingness to “spend” other people’s “money.” If they want more housing, and more money for the village, let them buy the houses next to their own, knock them down, and put up skyscrapers.
The article reports that the village staff will provide trustees with a recommendation; but they already reported to the Plan Commission that they have no objection to the change.
Hopefully, the village board will have more sense.
Frank Stachyra is an Oak Park resident.