Public hearing set for TIF redevelopment plan

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In a narrow vote of 4-3, the Oak Park village board last week set a date for a public hearing on a revised redevelopment plan for the downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district, the first of many steps that must be taken before the TIF can be extended beyond 2006.

The document that is now up for public review includes some information compiled from a current draft of a downtown master plan crafted by the planning firm of Crandall and Arambula. It also includes general redevelopment goals for the area, as well as what purposes TIF money would be used for.

That document, however, was one that some village board members said was not specific enough to be considered a redevelopment plan, especially because Crandall and Arambula has not turned in its final findings.

"We have a report, but not even by the most extensive stretch of the imagination do we have a redevelopment plan," Trustee Galen Gockel said.

Trustee Robert Milstein also said it is too early for the village to begin the process of extending the TIF.

"We're moving too quickly on one of the biggest decisions we'll ever make," he said. "I want proof that market forces will not work. A TIF should be a tool of last resort."

Meanwhile, other board members said the document was suitably specific, and noted that trustees had not objected at a prior meeting to placing the item on last week's agenda.

"We've had several plans recently get stopped when the process gets maligned in some way," said Trustee Diana Carpenter. "To bring this up at the eleventh hour is not worth continued comment." Carpenter was named Sunday as the Village Manager Association candidate for village president in the April election.

The formal public hearing on the redevelopment plan is currently scheduled for Feb. 7. Milstein, Gockel and Trustee Gus Kostopulos voted against setting the date.

?#34;Katharine Grayson



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