Mayor Sandack called the Workshop meeting of the Village Council of the Village of Downers Grove to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Village Hall.
Present:Mayor Ron Sandack; Commissioners Marilyn Schnell, Martin Tully, William Waldack, Sean P. Durkin; Geoff Neustadt; Bruce Beckman; Village Manager Cara Pavlicek; Village Attorney Enza Petrarca; Village Clerk April Holden
Visitors: Press: Samantha Nelson, Downers Grove Reporter Residents: Brian Riordan, GE Capital Public Finance; Gina Tedesco, Morton Arboretum, Lisle; Janice Sommer, 4824 Florence; John and Robert Sommer, 225 Williamsburg Ct., Romeoville; Maureen Polin, 907 Applegate; Tim and Catherine Meaney, 420 Franklin; Barry Miller, First United Methodist Church, 5645 Cass; Virginia Foskett, 6123 Hillcrest; Dwight Olsen, Versatile Card Technology; Judith Waldack, 1409 Willard Place; Andy Clark, 1226 62nd Street; John Hazard, St. Joseph Housing Team, 1029 Blanchard; Amy Lawless, DuPage United, 41 North Park, Glen Ellyn; Jorge More, 4732 Debolt; Melanie Biederman, St. Joseph, 4724 Lee; Stephanie Palubicki, St. Joseph, 1060 Black Oak; Shannon Kennedy, St. Joseph, 1060 Black Oak; Frank Falesch, 820 Prairie; James Cavallo, Pierce Downer’s Heritage Alliance, 6943 Valley View; Janet Murphy, St. Joseph, 4932 Washington; Michael and Lillian Moats, DG Friends Meeting, 1100 Maple; David Schulz, 5509 Washington; Joseph and Pat Smyth, St. Joseph, 4914 Lee; Bill Wrobel, DG Watch, 7800 Queens Ct.; Henry and Judy Torres, St. Mary, 5713 Brookbank; Rose Herlien, St. Mary, 4700 Fairview; Colette Hazard, St. Joseph, 1029 Blanchard; Margaret Bills, St. Joseph, 3600 Quince; Jean Mira, 4225 Saratoga; Alicia Fallon, St. Joseph, 2415 Ogden; Jenny Yu, St. Joseph, 2415 Ogden; Chick Briner, St. Joseph, 5933 Lyman; Mark Thoman, 1109 61st Street; Pat Ninneman, St. Joseph, 5317 Grand; Jack Dare, DuPage United, 1656 Carol; Lindy Hofstra, 501 Franklin; Mary Hason, DuPage United, 5720 Hillcrest; Ramon Marth, 5736 Hillcrest; Pat Sullivan, St. Joseph, 4702 Stonewall; Phil Byer, 4602 Prince Street ; Chris Saricks, 1116 61st Street; Phil Poirier, 4602 Prince Street; David and Barbara Reynolds, 4919 Bryan; Michael Balsamo, 5747 Lyman; Richard Craven, 5240 Grand; Stephen and Catherine Rubright, 4905 Chase; Julie Balsamo, DG Wine Shop, 1240 75th Street; Christine Fregeau, 1918 Elmore; Kristen McCann, 442 Austin; Ed Sherman, 490 N. Ashbury, Bolingbrook; Mike Balsamo, 5729 Washington Staff: Liangfu Wu, Director, Information Services; Bob Porter, Police Chief; Tom Dabareiner, Director, Community Development; Dave Fieldman, Deputy Village Manager; Robin Weaver, Interim Director, Public Works; Phil Ruscetti, Fire Chief; Mike Millette, Assistant Director, Public Works; Brandon Dieter, Management Analyst; Megan Bourke, Management Analyst; Jeff O’Brien, Sr. Planner, Community Development; Wes Morgan, Director, Human Resources; Andy Matejcak, Director, Counseling & Social Services; Judy Buttny, Finance Director; Doug Kozlowski, Director, Communications
Mayor Sandack led those present in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
Mayor Sandack explained that Council Workshop meetings are held the second and fourth Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. The meetings are video taped live and for later cable cast over cable channel 6.
The Workshop meeting is intended to provide Council and the public with an appropriate forum for informal discussion of any items intended for future Council consideration or just for general information. No formal action is taken at Workshop meetings.
The public is invited to attend and encouraged to comment or ask questions in an informal manner on any of the items being discussed or on any other subject. The agenda is created to provide a guideline for discussion.
Active Agenda and Informational Items
Manager Cara Pavlicek reviewed the items on the Agenda for comments and general discussion. She began with the alley vacations, which have been placed on the Agenda separately. She asked Tom Dabareiner, Community Development Director to review the items.
Alley Vacation 4714 Douglas .
Tom Dabareiner , Director Community Development, began by highlighting the policy issues such as compensation, which is required by policy at the Council’s discretion. The issues also include easements that need to be retained for utility companies, what structures can go over an easement, and expansion of property, which adds land and changes setbacks.
As for 4714 Douglas, Mr. Dabareiner showed the location on the overhead projector. The width of this alleyway is 14’ and is currently used as residential property, which is also the proposed use. There are utilities in the alley running the entire area of the alleyway. Recommended payment based on assessed value is $2,493.91. The Plan Commission recommended approval with the easement requirement.
The Manager noted that the vacation of the Prairie Avenue right-of-way will not be presented today as the petitioner is out of town. Staff has requested that this be continued to perhaps as late as September.
Alley Vacation 442 Austin Street & 445 Franklin Street .
Mr. Dabareiner showed the location of these two parcels, which would be assigned to the respective property owners. The width is 14’, and again the use remains the same. There are no utilities in the alleyway currently, although an east/west utility line extends across the center. A request has been made to keep accessibility for the easement over the entire alleyway. The estimated cost is $5,117.78 to be split among the four petitioners. The Plan Commission recommended approval with the required easements.
Alley Vacation 445 Austin Street . Mr. Dabareiner described this parcel, with 14’ width and utilities in the alleyway. He said the estimated cost will be $2,628.56, and Plan Commission recommended approval, again with easements.
621-639 Ogden Rezoning and Vacation of Alley. Mr. Dabareiner said this parcel extends along the south side of Ogden Avenue, with a width of 20’. There are utilities in the alley, and it is being used for commercial open space. It is intended to be used for parking. Estimated cost is $10,621.28 to be split among the three petitioners. This parcel will require rezoning, and it is consistent with the Ogden Avenue Master Plan and the intent to add depth to the commercial sites. The Plan Commission recommended approval of the vacation with the easement requirement and rezoning.
Mayor Sandack called for anyone in the audience wishing to speak on these properties.
Kirby Eisman , 445 Austin, said he has been pursuing vacation of this site for eight months. He showed photos from May 2007, depicting the site as overgrown after he maintained it with weeding and mowing. It showed how the property looks when they tried to access the garage, with gravel and mud. They have stopped using their garage because of the inaccessibility due to the condition of the property. Mr. Eisman said they see that basic maintenance needs to be done such as shoveling and mowing, necessary maintenance to clear and repair the muddy area, and then relocate their garage for better accessibility and extended use of their yard. When they approached the Village about the vacation, the Village said “No.” Mr. Eisman said they are in a strange situation in that they are using property that needs work, they would like to do the work but do not own the land, and the property owner refuses to do the work. That is why they chose to seek vacation of the property. Mr. Eisman said it has been difficult for them to understand the requirement of the Municipal Code, although staff has helped as much as possible. Mr. Eisman said they have lived in the Village ten years and can’t believe that the Village is giving them such a raw deal in this regard because the land was originally subdivided using the City of Chicago style with alleys, etc. The Village obtained the land for free when it was subdivided, and it is only serviced by 445 Austin. He said the Village obtained the land for free and has never touched the property for maintenance or anything at all. He asked why he should pay for abandoned property which never cost the Village a dime. In that same vein, the vacation policy states that the Village Council shall determine the amount of type of compensation, if any, to be required as a condition. In the past, these things were handed back to the people when requested. He knows that recently an alley vacation was priced at $1.00, but now the policy is changing so that the homeowner has to pay thousands of dollars to get the land, while it cost the Village nothing originally. He said if compensation is required they should consider 54 years of maintenance work by the owners of the home as payment.
Mr. Eisman said from his perspective this offer is even worse considering that if he purchases the land he can’t even move his garage, let along build a new one as they are requesting easement accross the entire width and length of the alley. All the utilities on the property are in the east/west alley. He does not understand the need to have an easement over the entire length and width of the alley, and asked that the 14’ easement condition on his property be eliminated to allow his property to become 64’ wide with standard setbacks and easement like the rest of the property in the Village. They are being asked to pay taxes for a piece of property that they cannot use.
Kristen McCann , 442 Austin, concurred with the comments from Mr. Eisman regarding the use of the land. They are willing to pay for a piece of land that they will be able to use. She sees the 14’ easement as excessive for a strip of land with no utilities. She questioned whether she is under an obligation to purchase the land if the Village offers it to her.
Commissioner Schnell said she has had experience with vacations where there was no charge. The land was given to the Village free, has an easement on it and will be used in the same manner as it has been. She feels it should be given to the owners for $1.00. This gets the property back on the tax rolls. There is a difference between vacating the right-of-way and the Ogden Avenue property, which is for commercial use and increases the value of that property. At the last discussion, she asked that the policy be amended and asked again that this policy be reviewed. In cases where there would be considerable financial gain, then charging for cost of the property makes sense; however, not in the situation of the residential properties. Commissioner Schnell said she would not vote in favor of vacating these residential properties due to the cost.
Commissioner Tully apologized to the residents for this issue going on and on. It is important to recognize is that the Council does have a policy. No one is forcing anyone to pay anything for the property. These are requests from people for the Village to give them the property. The current policy was greatly debated. The questions raised were whether this was a piece of property that will be realistically used by the Village for some public purpose. If so, then the property would not be vacated. However, if the answer is “no”, then the next step is whether the Village should require any compensation. The current policy provides for discretion as to the cost, whether it is nothing or fair-market value. There has been no mechanism available to determine how much the property is worth before it is simply given away. If the Village has fire trucks that have outlived their purpose, the Village doesn’t give them away but sells them as a public asset. The policy now requires a determination of the worth of the public asset.
Commissioner Tully said that all four properties are not expected to be used by the Village. It doesn’t hurt for property owners to ask for vacation; however, the Council has to balance the public and private interests. He sees it as the obligation of the Council to determine the worth of the property. The Village did not ask for appraisals, but an assessment was developed to determine the worth, and he feels the costs are not astronomical. These parcels will add to the value of the adjacent property by adding 14’ to the side of the property. He believes these are reasonable amounts for public assets. Maintenance of the property is a separate issue, and the easements are driven by utilities.
Manager Pavlicek noted that drainage easements are driven by the Village.
Commissioner Tully continued that he feels compensation is appropriate, fair and balanced. The Council cannot give away public assets. He noted that the value to put the land back on the tax rolls is nominal. He sees the proposals as put forth by staff as appropriate and he will support them.
At this time Mayor Sandack deviated from procedure to recognize a member of the public who wished to comment.
Ed Sherman , 490 N. Ashbury, Bolingbrook, said his client is one of the representatives of Downers Grove Animal Hospital. They have no problem with the recommendations or with paying the costs. Their problem is with the requirement for an MAI certified appraisal, which is an added expense over and above the cost for the property. At the Plan Commission it was determined that they should get the MAI appraisal, which costs several thousand dollars, which is up to 25% of the value of the property. They are willing to pay he agreed-upon price.
The Mayor said he was under the impression that if there is an agreed-upon price, the appraisal requirement was no longer a requirement.
Deputy Village Manager Dave Fieldman responded that there is a difference between the residential and commercial costs. Staff’s recommendation was $14,000, and staff would not object to removing the appraisal requirement.
The Mayor advised Mr. Sherman that based upon staff’s comment, the Village will consider their request and perhaps modify the requirements.
Mayor Sandack said that this has been a continual dialogue. There is clear policy with unclear implementation, resulting in people rightfully seeking redress. He apologized for what he thought was well-intended, but poorly thought-out implementation. If the consensus of the Council is to revisit the policy, then the Council must do so. He said that in order for this to pass they will need a supermajority vote of six, which he will verify with the Attorney. He asked the Council to think through this issue and provide questions they may still have to the Village Manager, in order for this to move forward.
Commissioner Beckman said that he shared Commissioner Tully’s views. If the policy is fair it should be applied Village-wide.
Commissioner Schnell noted, however, that the policy offers discretion on the part of the Council.
Commissioner Durkin said he agrees with both Commissioners Tully and Beckman and would like to see a clause that it could be paid in full at the time of refinance or the time of sale.
The Mayor said staff has been trying to be as creative as possible with respect to payment plans. It can be spread out over time if necessary, because the purpose here is to balance both interests.
e) Vacation of the Prairie Avenue Right-of-Way
Manager Pavlicek said that Items a-d will be placed on next week’s agenda, with item e placed on a September agenda at the petitioner’s request.
f) (i) Moratorium re: Special Use Petitions for Recycling Facilities; (ii) Zoning Ordinance Amendment-M district Modifications.
The Manager explained these items. She said staff has prepared an ordinance to allow a 90-day moratorium to continue discussion on this matter. She said the ordinance as presented in the Council packet earlier this week has been updated that says if adopted, during the 90-day period staff will not be processing or reviewing any pending applications that they may have.
Mark Thoman , 1109 61st Street, urged the Council to waive the one-week waiting period and approve the moratorium tonight to provide staff with time to take a comprehensive look at an obsolete, single definition, probably the worst written into the Village Code many decades ago. This is an obsolete ordinance that should be brought into the 21st Century. The moratorium will provide time to staff to craft an accurate and clean definition regarding today’s recycling practices.
Gina Tedesco of the Morton Arboretum said she supports the 90-day proposed moratorium. She is aware that the Council could take a vote on the proposed amendment to the ordinance to change the zoning by July 17, although they hope this will not occur. Ms. Tedesco said the possible presence of a recycling facility right off of the Morton Arboretum property could cause undue hardships including the presence of noise and dust, emission of particulate matter, and an operation of unknown character that could conflict with possible future uses and development at the Morton Arboretum. She pointed out that the proposed amendment would provide certain protections for residential properties that would not apply to the Morton Arboretum. She thinks the Council’s goal is to provide fair and equitable policy and they are requesting that the Council allow the Arboretum the same protections.
Commissioner Tully commented regarding the language with respect to the moratorium in Section 1 which reads “except for permits issued after the close off business on July 10, 2007, no special use for recycling collection facility permits may be processed, issued or considered for a period of 90 days from the adoption of this Ordinance.” He suggested that the one-week waiting period be waived to vote on the moratorium.
The Manager asked for clarification that there will be no further discussion on the industrial rezoning because it will be Workshopped further throughout the 90-day period.
Commissioner Waldack said that the Council is discussing zoning and the legal ramifications; however, there is no scientific data as to the dangers involved. He would like to see an Environmental Concerns Committee (ECC) review as to the science involved.
Mayor Sandack said that staff can send a request to ECC regarding the scientific data and concepts, as they have not yet been addressed.
g) Georgian Courts Park Land Transfer.
Mr. Fieldman said that a request has been made regarding conveying property on Gilbert Avenue west of Forest Avenue. The development includes a small park and according to the agreement, the developer deeded the property to the Village. The Village received a request from the Homeowners’ Association to convey that park back to them. Staff concurs with the request and recommends conveyance at no cost pursuant to the Village Code.
Ms. McCann pointed out that this is Village property being conveyed back for free to private owners.
Commissioner Neustadt noted that maintenance on the property, including the gazebo, is more than routine grass mowing, snow removal, etc.
Commissioner Waldack then asked about the difference between this and the vacation of the alley. He said the Village should get something back for it unless they are going to give it to the Park District. Otherwise he thinks it should be placed up for sale.
Commissioner Schnell said that when this was put in the agreement it was specific for green space, and in consideration of the senor center across the street. She asked whether this will preclude people from the senor center from using this property.
Mr. Fieldman said that the Council could encumber it with an easement to make it available to all residents.
Commissioner Schnell said that if the Homeowners’ Association agrees, she would like to see language to allow others to sit there.
Commissioner Beckman asked whether the Village maintains other parks and the Manger said she would check unto that.
Commissioner Beckman said that the Village is not in the business of maintaining park property. The Manager said that two different portions of the Municipal Code are involved in this situation and the vacation of property.
Commissioner Durkin asked whether the gazebo needs to be maintained.
Mr. Fieldman said two items control this issue, one of which is redevelopment, and the other is that the Zoning Ordinance controls the long-term use.
Commissioner Tully noted that there are distinctions between this and the alley vacations. This was never a right-of-way or designed for street use. Because of the legal status of the property, it falls under a different policy. The question is whether to waive the bidding process for this land. He agrees that this is a public asset, and the policy is to put it out for bid and see who bids on this. He believes they should be consistent.
Mayor Sandack said that the intentions were good in 2001, but the Village is not adept at dealing with parks. The Village has a policy and it should be consistent. He believes the Village should seek bids and see what they get.
A gentleman who identified himself as the president of the Homeowners’ Association said that he lived at Georgian Courts in November 2003. When they purchased they were assured by Larry Rosol that the park would become part of the Homeowners’ Association. He has only seen one outside resident use the park, and he was a vagrant. The gentleman said he was led to believe that this will be conveyed to the Association at no cost. If the people across the street want to come over, he is fine with that. If they have to pay for this property, the Village will keep the property. The Association’s by-laws require that 75% of the homeowners must agree to taking over the property and they just made 75%.
h) Wine Boutique Ordinance
The Manger said this was referred by the Liquor Commission.
Commissioner Neustadt asked about the food service issue.
Enza Petrarca , Village Attorney, said that they will need to establish a food preparation area per County Health Department regulations. This will not be a full kitchen.
Commissioner Schnell said that it has been a philosophy of the Village that we do not have liquor without food. If they only have a food preparation area, the food may not be appealing enough to entice people to eat while drinking. She is concerned about no limitation as to liquor consumption and would like limitations as to the number of glasses consumed, and that food must be served in conjunction with the consumption of wine. She wants to see the Village be consistent with is past philosophy.
Commissioner Beckman agrees that limitations should be established.
Commissioner Tully referenced similar establishments, noting there is a Wine Stop in Darien, which has no food served at all. It has apparently worked out well. It makes sense to him to initially put limitations on the quantities but doesn’t see a real need for food service. He thinks it is a good idea and adds a new dimension to other establishments. He will support it with or without food.
The Mayor said he supports the ordinance as it is written. There is responsibility associated with dispensing alcohol, whether open or packaged. These are responsible vendors who are required to have training. He indicated that the ordinance contemplates food. There are no limitations with other establishments currently established other than using observations skills of the employees. He indicated that the Village can do control buys in this establishment. The Mayor said that the Village is protective of the public and takes liquor licensing very seriously.
Commissioner Beckman said that he has learned through experience and observation that the food aspect adds to the experience.
Commissioner Waldack asked about “flight.” Attorney Petrarca said that the proposed ordinance is wine or beer by the glass with one serving at a time. Commissioner Waldack said he is not hung up on the food requirement, but would like to see a limitation on the number of glasses served.
Commissioner Durkin asked whether the Chamber supports this as written, and Attorney Petrarca said it does. Downtown Management was opposed to placing a limitation on the number of glasses served. Originally they had a two-glass limitation.
The Mayor reviewed that Commissioners Neustadt, Tully and Durkin are satisfied with this as written. Commissioners Schnell and Waldack would like to see a limitation imposed.
i) Proposed Climate Protection Agreement Endorsement.
The Manager said that the ECC has forwarded a recommendation to the Village to adopt a standard form resolution to endorse the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection agreement. She outlined the options available to the Council for consideration.
Frank Falesch , 820 Prairie, said he was opposed to this. The Kyoto Treaty has not been approved by the U.S. government, and many people think this whole movement is a religion. He believes that the Village should be very conservative and doesn’t think adopting this is the way to go. He thinks this is an individual thing and doesn’t feel it is something to be legislated.
Jim Cavallo , 6943 Valley View, said he is Chair of the Pierce Downer Heritage Alliance, and chose to speak in favor of this. He sees it as a reasonable agreement and allows the Village to work with other cities on common goals. He pointed out that pollutants come in multiples. In addition to the greenhouse gases emitted, there are also local pollutants that come along, so by taking action that has consequences for global climate change, the Village is also benefiting itself. He thinks this is a reasonable small step to take.
David Schulz , 5509 Washington, asked for the Council’s support in regard to this. He sees this as a clear benefit and advantage to the Village, which will serve the interests of Downers Grove. He noted various energy conservation methods that he personally has employed including lighting, insulation, etc. This has clear economic advantages. He represents the Pierce Downer Heritage Alliance, which unanimously supported the adoption of this. The First United Methodist church has also endorsed this to help mitigate climate change. Mr. Schultz noted that climate changes have required the relocation of 2000 people in Alaska. There are species of polar bears and penguins that are endangered with extinction. He’s studied ocean acidification issues, saying that in some cases 15%-20% of coral reefs are degraded or destroyed. Mr. Schultz said that we need to minimize global emissions to reduce global temperatures, and he asked for the Council’s support, noting that there are resources that can assist municipalities in implementing this
Commissioner Waldack said he reviewed the agreement which includes adopting land use policies, promoting transportation options, practicing and promoting sustainable building practices, all of which sound like good ideas to him. In terms of fuel efficiency, the Village has already worked toward that end. With regard to purchasing EPA Star equipment, the Village should remain open but has to also be fiscally responsible. The resolution is not actually requiring the Village to do anything. There are no fines involved. The “Whereas” portion of the resolution is made up of a series of facts. It states that the Village is not obligated but “we will strive.” He sees this as common sense, nothing offensive. It basically promotes striving to do a better job. Commissioner Waldack suggested adopting this proposal and turning it over to the ECC for their review and establishing goals.
Commissioner Neustadt said that the Village already does many of the things specified and tries to purchase fuel-efficient vehicles. The Village has different types of fuel usage, open space requirements, and he would recommend sending this to the ECC to make it specific to the Village of Downers Grove.
Commissioner Schnell concurred with Commissioner Neustadt’s comment. As it stands, it is not specific to this community and the Village does not have an assessment of what this would cost in terms of staff work, etc. She is concerned about doing this when neighboring communities are not doing it. This needs to be on a state and national level.
Commissioner Beckman said he agrees that the Village should select Option 1, refer the agreement back to the ECC for further discussion, to be applicable to Downers Grove in terms of costs and benefits.
The Mayor said he shares some of Commissioner Waldack’s concerns. He is in favor of Option #1 with questions and action items being sent back to the ECC . He said the proposed resolution is from the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He would like to identify this as specific to the Village of Downers Grove’s practices. Raising awareness would be one area that he would like to see pursued. The introductory language of the resolution adds nothing to the practices that the Village employs locally and seeks to advance. The Mayor noted section “C”, which states what the Village will strive to do. He questioned Item #2 under “C” and the constraints it presents. He would like more information. Mayor Sandack said this is a great start and he would like to refer this to the ECC . He also asked that the Council members forward any questions or concerns they may have to the Village Manager. The Mayor said staff can put together a draft motion and workshop that.
j) 5200 and 5220 Thatcher Final Plat of Subdivision
k) Private Activity Bond 5200 and 220 Thatcher and Reimbursement Resolution
The Manager said that staff would like to consider discussions on j and k relative to a final plat of subdivision on Thatcher Road, as well as an application submitted for a Private Activity Bond.
Mr. Fieldman said that property is 5200 and 5220 Thatcher Road, which they intend to connect with a third parcel, consolidating the facility into one unit. He indicated that the petitioner is asking for use of the Village’s Private Activity Bonding Authority to issue tax exempt bonds to help finance the expansion. He then defined Private Activity Bonds as bonds issued by municipalities for the benefit of private entities for economic development activities or non profit organizations. They are tax exempt, hold a lower interest rate, and are subject to State volume caps. There is no liability to the municipality, as the private entity pays off the bonds.
Mr. Fieldman then explained how the State allocation works, noting that the Village’s current authority is $4.2 million. The Village Code permits issuance, and has a debt management policy outlining the application and review process. He indicated that the Village has received an application from Versatile Card Technology (VCT) at 5200 Thatcher Road to finance their real estate expansion which is 9,800 square feet in size, and to improve their equipment. He said that the project would be financed by tax exempt bonds, with the balance financed through the Illinois Finance Authority. The expansion would generate approximately ten new jobs and would increase the EAV by about $500,000. He reviewed the contacts with Versatile Card Technology since March 3. The next step will be to prepare an agreement and an ordinance and schedule a public hearing. Mr. Fieldman said that staff recommends approval of this request.
Mr. Fieldman said that the Village has the ability to take its volume cap and grant it to other agencies. Staff has reviewed the Village’s ability to cede the volume cap to the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA). He explained that the IHDA is an independent authority, which exists to finance affordable housing options throughout the State. They issue tax exempt bonds, take the proceeds and turn them into affordable housing programs. They have three programs: 1) fixed rate mortgage; 2) HELP program grants for down payment and closing fees at a slightly higher interest rate; 3) Mortgage Credit Certification which is a reduction in federal income tax of 20% of the annual mortgage interest payments. The programs are available generally to first-time home buyers. He explained that they have income limits as well as purchase price limits. Mr. Fieldman said that IHDA does not originate mortgages. They buy the mortgage once originated by a participating lender. Their success depends upon local participation, and IHDA administers the program. He noted that the funds would be available for three years, and if the funds are not being used in Downer Grove, IHDA would move the funds to another community. Last year the Village ceded is authority to IHDA in the Immanuel Residencies and Peace Memorial projects. If the Village cedes its money under the three programs, the resolution would have to identify how much money was ceded over and how much money was involved.
Mr. Fieldman said that research shows that the Code allows the Village to issue mortgage revenue bonds. There are many options available. The first option is to respond to the application submitted by VCT . He suggested discussing options during the Strategic Planning Session which is coming soon, as well as obtaining input from the EDC , creating an ad hoc committee, focusing on the FY 08 bonds, and provide staff direction as to the program.
The Mayor asked for comments from people in attendance who wish to discuss this item and requested that they limit themselves to the five-minute limit due to the number of people present.
Melanie Biederman , 4724 Lee, asked that the vote on this issue be postponed until all issues have been heard. She represents the Downers Grove Housing Team.
Jorge More , 4732 Debolt, a resident of the Village for 22 years, encouraged the option of affordable housing to keep the community alive and growing. They should be considered very carefully.
Phil Byer , 4602 Prince Street, said he is very interested in housing, as he is a retired banker and real estate agent. He has three grown children who cannot afford to buy a house here. Regarding bonding for the VCT , he asked whether the money will go to Versatile or to help young people buy housing. He prefers it to go to the young people. There is a shortcoming of the VCT proposal, in that there will be jobs provided at $35,000 per year, and he asked whether it justifies $4 million in low interest loans for ten jobs. Mr. Byer noted that the owner of VCT has financial means to obtain loans through other sources, and asked if this is beneficial for the Village. He indicated that what we want is people living in the Village, and he feels it would be better use of the money to put it into affordable housing.
John Hazard , 1029 Blanchard, thanked the Council for putting this on the agenda. IHDA would only move the money if the Village doesn’t use it, and there are lots of advantages of preserving middle-income housing. Mr. Hazard noted that other communities have recognized the economic value of diverse housing stock and they are acting on it. He said that local businesses profit from getting employees who live closer to their jobs. The economic value of close-by housing can only measured over time, but he sees this as a real advantage.
Stephanie Palubicki, 1060 Black Oak Drive said that if she had to, she couldn’t afford to buy her house over again. Affordable housing is a very real problem today. She referred to a meeting at St. Joseph’s Church, saying she was present to remind the Council members that as candidates and standing members of the Council, they stated “yes” to concerns about affordable housing. She asked that the Village allow IHDA to present their proposal and that the Council members live up to their promise by learning more about affordable housing before they approve this proposal. This is a painless opportunity to make money available to people who would like to live in this Village.
Tim Meaney , 420 Franklin, thanked the Council and staff for this discussion. He wanted to dispel the myth that ceding money to IHDA is a new idea. It was first forwarded to the Village in March. He spoke with the Village Manager yesterday by phone and based on that conversation the appropriate next step would be for the Council to hear a formal proposal from IHDA , just as they have from VCT . The Council could them ask the appropriate questions. He said that the Council needs to give serous consideration to both parties interested in these funds.
Lindy Hofstra , 501 Franklin Street, told her son that she was attending a meeting on affordable housing, and her son said that this is the third most affluent County in the State and the government won’t give any money to the County. She told him that this meeting will provide the information they need, and will inform the Council members that residents want the opportunity to keep affordable housing in the Village. She said she would like to se the money used for housing.
Jean Mira , 4225 Saratoga, owns a condominium here. She was happy to be part of the Village when she moved into the community, but now she cannot move to alternate housing within the community she loves. Due to an illness and her contact with caregivers, she learned that most caregivers in the Village cannot afford to remain here or move here and have to live with relatives and friends. She is not the only person who cannot afford to live here. She asked that the Council listen to the residents and those who want to be residents of this Village.
Mike Balsamo , 5729 Washington, has lived in the Village for 35 years. He said that he would not qualify for this type of mortgage, and referenced teacher friends who cannot afford to buy a home here, but have been renting here instead. Mr. Balsamo noted that if the funding is ceded to VCT the people working the new jobs to be created probably couldn’t afford to live in Downers Grove either.
Bryan Riordan, of GE Capital Finance for VCT said that the Illinois Finance Authority approved funding of $7.4 million requested by VCT today. The ten jobs referenced in the staff report are for the initial year. If he project does not receive funding for this year it would delay the project, and would also put in jeopardy the ability of VCT to remain in the Village.
Pat Sullivan , 4702 Stonewall, said that the IHDA program is outstanding, and it is a win-win situation for the Village. There are only four members of the Downers Grove police force living in Downers Grove right now. This is excellent for public safety workers, nurses, firemen, etc. There are many lenders in the Village who would operate this program. Regarding the down payment and closing costs program, the IHDA customizes the program to the community. He sees this as a tremendous program, and detailed some of the options that would benefit many employers in the Village. He noted that IHDA administers the entire program, and there are three years to use the money. The VCT owner owns a number of banks with $1 billion in assets. He urged the Council to look at what is good for the residents in the Village. Mr. Sullivan said that the Village needs to hear from Roger Morsch who is the expert.
David Reynolds , 4919 Bryan Place, said this story is filled with irony. He discussed the VCT petition and petitioner. The loss of monies to IHDA will delay the opportunity for employees to purchase local housing. He was disappointed to see that the petitioners would have to suspend the growth of their project if this is not approved. He understands that the owner is a hard-working man interested in his community. However, Mr. Reynolds fear is that key words will frame this issue, such as low income housing rather than “middle” income housing. He is looking for fairness in the debate to make Downers Grove a better community
Steve Rubright , 4905 Chase, grew up in the Village. He indicated that most people cannot afford to move back to the Village and doesn’t think the petitioner or his family need to worry about where they are going to live.
Ramon Marth , 5736 Hillcrest, has lived in the Village for four years and has encouraged four friends to live here. He works at Benet Academy. He sees this as a tool to encourage people to live in the community. He asked that this decision be delayed to look at what IHDA has to offer. He also asked about the community investment of VCT over the past 15 years.
The Mayor thanked the public for their attentiveness and for staying late. He said that the comments have been received thoughtfully and gratefully. This is not an issue that anyone on the dais is not asking seriously. Several people elected were elected due to this issue. The awareness of this issue has been raised ten-fold in a short period of time. He referenced the meeting held in December at St. Joseph Church and the March gathering at First United Methodist Church, and noted that the Council’s commitment is to actively address this issue. He said the ad hoc committee has been a goal, and applications are available for people to volunteer.
Commissioner Neustadt said that he and his wife are the face of the affordable housing issue. They waited a year to find their home in the Village. He believes that the Village needs to define the affordable housing issue. He suggested forming the ad hoc committee. If IHDA monies don’t go to Downers Grove employees, that doesn’t serve the community. He said that this must be part of the Strategic Plan. This is not an IHDA versus VCT issue, noting that there has been no formal application from IHDA . The Manager said that was correct. Commissioner Neustadt said that the Village must create the ad hoc committee to make sure the residents are involved and that the Village gets the money due to it.
Commissioner Schnell said she believes they need to move forward with the ad hoc committee, but the Council hasn’t discussed the make-up of the committee and its duties and responsibilities. She encouraged people to get applications and submit them. Commissioner Schnell noted that additional bond cap money will be available in January. She said there is more involved than giving the money to IHDA and asked how long it takes to get the program going. They have to look into other communities to determine the lead time necessary to cede the money to IHDA . They need more information to make the policy right for Downers Grove. She also asked how many people actually use these funds. She feels that the Village can give VCT the opportunity to expand their business as well as doing IHDA January 1. She is leaning towards Commissioner Neustadt’s suggestion.
Commissioner Beckman thanked the public for speaking. He is a proponent for sustaining the housing stock in our community. This is a great idea on the surface but there are some steps to complete to determine what is right for Downers Grove. He agreed that the Village needs to develop the ad hoc committee, establish timeframes to move toward approval of what can be done for Downers Grove.
Commissioner Durkin said he wants to know what fits in Downers Grove and would like to see the ad hoc committee in place by the 4th quarter of 2007. The Village has an ordinance to administer the program itself. He wants to know when the committee can start, and what is right for Downers Grove, noting that housing stock in Downer Grove has taken off.
Commissioner Tully said that three points were brought up by Mr. Fieldman. The first had to do with the final plat of consolidation for the property at 5200 & 5220 Thatcher Road, and he suspects there is no objection to that since no comments were made on it.
The second issue was issuance of private activity bonds, and Commissioner Tully said that a formal request has been submitted. He agrees that these are not two competing requests at all. The petition before the Council began in March 2007, and on April 3 the Council passed an ordinance to reserve the bond authority in light of VCT ’s interest. This has been in consideration for some time and VCT will have to meet all of the requirements.
Commissioner Tully said that using this same kind of mechanism in the future to support affordable housing is exciting and has great potential. It does not require dipping into Village funds to do this. No one on the Council is wavering from their commitment to affordable housing. The Council acts on a deliberate and well-informed, thoughtful basis. He said that the Council needs to know the interest in this program in terms of buy-in and support. Commissioner Tully said that it is a great idea, but the timing is not just right. This would be a good use of 2008 funds. The petition to VCT needs to be evaluated on its merits. It is a plus for the community and promotes economic development.
Commissioner Waldack said that he has no problem with the plat of consolidation. He believes in the IHDA proposal and needs to look at both proposals in a fair manner. He wants to know that all Commissioners and the Mayor obtain a complete rundown on the IHDA proposal. He is concerned with the Strategic Plan alignment which always seems to come up when affordable housing is raised. He suggested language to be placed in the current Strategic Plan next week. He said that this has been delayed because staff said it had to be placed on the Strategic Plan. He wants it understood that this was thought of in April and he wants a modification of the Strategic Plan to move forward. He said he also requested a presentation by Roger Morsch some time ago. He believes Mr. Morsch could have answered questions that need to be researched by staff.
In regard to Thatcher Road, Commissioner Waldack said that VCT is very successful and a viable business in Downers Grove. The owner is a very accomplished and successful person. Both proposals qualify and give the Village control over what it wants to do with the bond cap. He thinks they need to look at both proposals as viable proposals. He asked why the petitioner wouldn’t invest in his own business. He does not feel the application is complete. Mr. Fieldman said that the applicant has considerable resources at their disposal and that the business will make money. Commissioner Waldack said if the two proposals are put side by side the IHDA would have more impact as more banks would be involved, realtors would have an advantage, and more money would be spread and spent in the Village. He believes the IHDA proposal is a better choice for the Village. He would like to have Roger Morsch address the Council, and he doesn’t think the Village needs to delay this. He would also like to see the ad hoc committee in place in August to administer the program.
The Mayor said he appreciated Commissioner Waldack’s comments. He said that there is only one applicant before the Village; so Commissioner Waldack’s comparison is for a hypothetical second applicant. He said that comparing the two is not fair. There is only one applicant at this time and they do meet the criteria. He noted that the work has not been done yet to define what is the best for the Village. They must identify the problem with specificity with respect to the community. He does agree that there well may be an affordable housing issue in the Village, but does not yet know exactly what that is. This will be discussed in the Strategic Plan meetings in August as promised and agreed upon by the Commissioners. He appreciates that this issue has been brought forward, but they need to play by the rules of the Village. They have an applicant who has followed the rules. The Mayor said that the Village needs to have a diverse group to study the issue.
Regarding the delayed process, the Mayor said that the Village has an opportunity to study this and craft a program that fits the Village before they cede next year’s funds. He noted that a good process demands that they look forward, hear the citizens, hear Mr. Morsch’s expertise, etc. The applicant has played by the rules of the Village, and that one application needs to be addressed. The Council will purposefully look at the issue.
Consent Agenda Items
Manager Pavlicek reviewed the items on the Consent Agenda for comments and discussion.
Bid: Hazmat Truck.
Commissioner Durkin complimented the staff at looking for options.
Commissioner Beckman said this was a good idea.
Woodward Avenue Improvements.
Bid Joint Agreement with Illinois Department of Transportation
Commissioner Schnell asked about the timeline and the Manager said this will be done this year. They expect to begin in August.
39th Street Resurfacing Project .
Bid Joint Agreement with Illinois Department of Transportation
Commissioner Schnell said that there needs to be coordination with the schools in the event that this is not done by the start of the school year, because the buses for Highland School load on 39th Street. She indicated that this is not a widening of 39th Street but a resurfacing of the street.
MANAGER ’S AND DIRECTORS ’ REPORTS
There were no reports.
ATTORNEY ’S REPORT
Village Attorney Enza Petrarca said she was presenting 11 items to the Council: 1) An ordinance creating a wine boutique license; 2) An ordinance providing for the conveyance of certain property owned by the Village of Downers Grove; 3) A resolution approving the final plat of subdivision for the 5200 & 5220 Thatcher Road subdivision; 4) An ordinance vacating a certain portion of a public alley north of 4714 Douglas Road in the Village of Downers Grove; 5) An ordinance vacating a certain portion of a public alley west of 445 Austin Street in the Village of Downers Grove; 6) An ordinance vacating a certain portion of a public alley west of 442 Austin Street and adjacent to 445 Franklin Street in the Village of Downers Grove; 7) An ordinance amending the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance of the Village of Downers Grove, Illinois, passed and approved April 19, 1965, as amended, to rezone property located south of 621-639 Ogden Avenue; 8) An ordinance vacating a certain portion of a public alley south of Ogden Avenue and east of Stanley Avenue in the Village of Downers Grove; 9) A resolution authorizing execution of an intergovernmental agreement between the Village of Downers Grove and the Illinois Department of Transportation for the resurfacing of 39th Street; 10) A resolution authorizing execution of an intergovernmental agreement between the Village of Downers Grove and the Illinois Department of Transportation for the resurfacing and widening of Woodward Avenue; and 11) A resolution of official intent regarding certain capital expenditures to be reimbursed from proceeds of Industrial Revenue Bonds.
Attorney Petrarca asked the Council to consider waiving the traditional one-week waiting period to consider voting on an ordinance establishing a moratorium on the granting of special uses for the location of recycling collection facilities in the Village of Downers Grove.
Commissioner Tully moved to waive the one-week waiting period to consider new business. Commissioner Durkin seconded the motion.
VOTE : AYES : Commissioners Tully, Durkin, Beckman, Neustadt, Waldack, Schnell; Mayor Sandack
NAYS : None
Mayor Sandack declared the Motion passed.
1. An ordinance establishing a moratorium on the granting of special uses for the location of recycling collection facilities in the Village of Downers Grove.
AN ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING A MORATORIUM ON THE GRANTING OF SPECIAL USES FOR THE LOCATION OF RECYCLING COLLECTION FACILITIES IN THE VILLAGE OF DOWNERS GROVE
ORDINANCE NO . 4888
Commissioner Tully moved to adopt an ordinance establishing a moratorium on the granting of special uses for the location of recycling collection facilities in the Village of Downers Grove, as presented. Commissioner Durkin seconded the Motion.
VOTE : AYES : Commissioners Tully, Durkin, Beckman, Neustadt, Waldack, Schnell; Mayor Sandack
NAYS : None
Mayor Sandack declared the Motion passed.
Commissioner Waldack apologized for going overtime in his comments.
Commissioner Neustadt said the Bike & Buggy Race was well attended. He thanked the residents and Community Events for this event. He also thanked the residents who attended this evening’s meeting for supporting their Village.
Commissioner Schnell added her appreciation to the residents for coming to the meeting.
Commissioner Beckman thanked the staff for coordinating the 4th of July parade.
Commissioner Durkin said that the 4th of July Parade was awesome and thanked the staff and all those who attended.
Commissioner Tully agreed that it was a great parade. He thanked the residents and the staff for their efforts. The fireworks and the weather were perfect.
The Mayor said that the Parade was fantastic and reflects well on the community. He also attended the Bike & Buggy Parade.
Mayor Sandack announced that the Garden Club of Downers Grove is celebrating its 80th year on July 14 from 1-5 p.m. at the American Legion Hall with their garden show.
He then thanked the public for their participation in the meeting tonight.
There being no further discussion, the Workshop meeting was adjourned at 10:55 p.m.
April K. Holden Village Clerk