I am sharing a summary of my letter to the Economic Development Commission of River Forest, dated April 6, 2023, following their meeting on April 5, 2023, for public interest:

Dear Chair Brown and fellow EDC members,

Thank you for your attention and patience during yesterday’s EDC meeting while my neighbors and I expressed our concerns and suggestions regarding the 7600 block of Madison Street development opportunities.

I am deeply appreciative that the commission decided to take more time to digest the commentary of the stakeholders who spoke up last night. After listening to your discussions and Mr. Houseal’s presentation, I have the following comments:

Is there empirical evidence that the commission can share showing that zoning changes as proposed triggered an influx of new interest and bids for development?

I believe the difficulty in attracting a developer is more complex and nuanced than what Mr. Houseal is portraying to the EDC and community. Economic conditions are very volatile and not in a good way. This condition may persist for some time. It also means that what was economically viable over the past decade may change dramatically. Thus, taking more time to reimage with us what would be best to build seems like a prudent undertaking while the economy settles out.

Even though Mr. Houseal repeated that changing the zoning codes to permit a 50-foot-tall building doesn’t necessarily mean that a 50-foot building would be proposed, you are explicitly inviting a 50-foot-tall development by amending the code in this manner. The community told you last night that a 50-foot building is unacceptable.

Lastly, I would like to directly address the comment from one of the commissioners who said that if we didn’t want to live in a busy commercial area, then we should not have bought a house near a busy commercial area: What an offensive, insulting and insensitive comment to make, and displayed conduct unbecoming of a person who sits in a position of power, tasked with serving the best interests of the entire community.

I look forward to a more collaborative process with the River Forest village and EDC as we work toward the manifestation of a wonderful new development for our end of town.

Renée N. Duba
River Forest

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