1. Call to Order
Mayor Robert Barnett called the regular meeting of the Village Council of the Village of Downers Grove to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Downers Grove Village Hall.
Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
Mayor Barnett led those present in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
2. Roll Call
Council Attendance (Present): Commissioner Earl, Commissioner Sadowski-Fugitt, Commissioner Kulovany, Commissioner Gray, Commissioner Hosé; Mayor Barnett
Absent: Commissioner Walus
Non-Voting: Village Manager David Fieldman, Village Attorney Enza Petrarca, Deputy Village Clerk Megan Miles
The Council meeting is broadcast over the local FM radio station, WDGC. In addition, a tape recording and videotape of the meeting are being made using Village-owned equipment. The videotape of the meeting will be used for later rebroadcast of the Council meeting over the Village cable television Channel 6.
The Council will follow the rules of conduct for this meeting as provided in Sec. 2.5 of the Downers Grove Municipal Code. These offer the public the opportunity to comment at several points in the meeting. First, immediately following approval of the minutes of past meetings, an opportunity will be given for public comments and questions of a general nature. If a public hearing is scheduled for this meeting, an opportunity is given for public comments and questions related to the subject of the hearing. Finally, an opportunity is given for public comments and questions on items appearing on the Consent Agenda, the Active Agenda and the First Reading.
The Mayor stated that at the appropriate time the presiding officers will ask if there are any comments from the public. Individuals wishing to speak should raise their hand to be recognized and, after acknowledgment from the presiding officer, approach the microphone and state their name. Remarks should be limited to five minutes, and individuals are asked to refrain from making repetitive statements.
Mayor Barnett said there are agendas located on either side of the Council Chambers, and he invited the audience to pick up an agenda and follow the progress of the Council meeting.
3. Minutes of Council Meetings
MIN 2019-8351 - A. Minutes: Council Minutes - October 8, 2019
Motion: Commissioner Hosé moved to approve the minutes as presented. Commissioner Earl seconded the motion.
Mayor Barnett declared the motion carried by voice vote.
4. Public Comments
This is the opportunity for public comments.
1. David Rose said he was compelled to speak because of the mischaracterization of his comments about the cannabis ordinance in the October 8 meeting minutes. The need for a cannabis ordinance exposes the fact that the nature of what is debated changes dramatically depending on whether the ordinance under consideration is to permit or to prohibit. If the ordinance is to permit the debate becomes principally a code enunciation and enforcement question. If the ordinance is to prohibit the debate should be over the rationale from a policy standpoint as to why cannabis businesses are prohibited while other businesses connected to other such substances are not. No such debate took place however. Instead a vote to prohibit was taken as an opportunity to show disapproval of the State's decision to legalize recreational cannabis. His comment expressed his assessment that the Commissioners and the members of the public who were in favor of prohibiting cannabis were employing arguments that could be applied just as readily to other substances the citizens of Downers Grove and most Americans accede to permitting in spite of the known physical harm and adverse financial effect they produce. Therefore, he suggested for the sake of consistency that the ordinance be amended to include these other substances such as alcohol, cigarettes and the like, and by that amendment compel discussion of why cannabis businesses deserve prohibition while the others did not. To his regret but not to his surprise no Commissioner took up his suggestion, nor did any Commissioner voting to prohibit ever indicate over the weeks of discussion the basis of their belief for the policy difference. To repeat, talking about the horrors of cannabis in isolation is not an intellectually sound basis for justifying policy. Taking such an approach undercuts one's claim of being able to separate policy decision from personal attitude and/or other influences. That failure is what he believes he heard Commissioners opposed to the ordinance to prohibit suggest as their worrisome concern going forward. He shares that concern. This vote is interesting, however, because it strikes him as another example of how Americans believe in freedom for both themselves and others except when they don't, of how Americans profess to be law-abiding, or how the default attitude in the U.S. is to permit behavior unless and until that behavior proves worthy of effort by some set of citizens powerful enough to prohibit it in principle, sometimes even in practice. In that vein it's appropriate to observe also that federal laws are passed or not, cited or not, enforced or not with similar inconsistency, and particularly the federal government's categorization of cannabis feels to have as much political motivation as scientific foundation behind it. That categorization translates directly into the need for cannabis businesses to be cash-based, for one, and heightened sensitivity to cannabis use and opportunity for employment for another. Change the categorization and those issues and associated problems diminish substantially. Clearly such inconsistency if it becomes too pervasive undercuts the citizenry's trust in the creation, enhancement and adjudication of the nation's laws and thereby government itself. This is a problem approaching boiling point in this country.
Lastly, he asked to be allowed to note that as Americans also profess to believe in the fundamental values of equality and equal opportunity, except when we don't, many of the advantaged expect those disadvantaged by such inconsistency to get over it and move on without the need for much in the way of rectification for the harm done and the inequity produced in the past or still to come. A major long-standing contributor to inequity in Illinois is the funding of public education thanks to its heavy reliance on property taxes, an inequity the State did woefully little to redress with the school funding law passed in 2017. As it was, the frail bonds that hold the State together continue to fray. The State of Illinois, by which he also refers to its subordinate levels of government, has dug itself into a huge financial hole of unpaid bills, unfunded pension liabilities, deferred maintenance of the infrastructure, debt repayment obligations among others. The hole has little chance of being filled unless officials at all levels of government find a way to build a sense of unity and community between the State's urban, suburban and rural populations. Any politician who promoted cannabis as a major fount of new revenue to help fill that hole should be added to the list of past and present officials who understand neither economics nor mathematics. Nevertheless, should one not applaud a relatively well-to-do municipality such as Downers Grove for voting to prohibit cannabis whether it does so for the following purpose or not on the grounds its prohibition in their town opens up opportunity for communities badly in need of new businesses and tax revenue. If he missed that among the reasons given for voting to prohibit it, he apologizes. If they did invoke that purposes he looks forward to other such responses promoting unity including ordinances to prohibit alcohol, cigarettes and the like.
2. Francis Soresi said he spoke at the last meeting and after that meeting took the Mayor's advice and spoke with a lawyer. He actually spoke with four attorneys. The issue is that his dog (who was present in the meeting) behaves like a dog during the day-not late at night and not early in the morning. The legal problem that the four attorneys and a judge he spoke with found with the ordinance is that it does not have any boundaries-it's just 24 hours wide open. He also found with the aid of some assistants of his at work that he's the only guy in town that has a disturbance of the peace because of a barking dog. They couldn't find anybody else who's received a ticket for that. He referenced the boundaries, saying that no police officer has been to his house early in the morning because his dogs don't bark early in the morning. No police officers have been to his house in the evening because his dogs don't bark in the evening. They bark in the middle of the day. What else goes on in the middle of the day? People coming up to blow snow off their driveways, people mowing their lawns in the summer, kids are playing, music is louder and you can hear it. The way the law is being enforced he is being penalized for having a dog. If there were any other boundary, or a history happening, then he'd have a lot less to say. Dogs do what dogs do, they bark! Their job is also protection of his home and property. When his dog sees a police officer walking from the street toward his house they bark. Why? That's their job. He asks anyone to explain to him their experience with a police officer coming out of a police car that didn't look intimidating. They look like police officers. That's their job. If you can see my dog from the outside of the house, he can see you if you are standing there with your phone or a small video recorder videotaping them, you are getting his attention. What's he going to do? He's going to be a dog. Does it happen all day? No it does not happen all day. He's been training dogs since 1972. A dog doesn't just out and out bark without a water bowl for more than eight minutes. When he and his wife are out of the house, his dog is in their bedroom because they have another dog and they don't want them together when they're not home. Why ask for a situation? It's like to seven-year-old kids. He said again that the problem is with the law. He mentioned that the Mayor made a statement dealing with fair enforcement of the law at the last meeting. The thing is if there were some kind of boundaries within the law, which there are in other villages and townships such as Berkeley and Elmhurst, the middle of the day is fair game. Before 6:00 in the morning or after 8:00 at night is different, he never has a police officer at his house. At the last meeting, for no other reason he asked for a dispensation as the first vocabulary word he could think of. Now he's just looking a little clarity and a little bit of boundary flexibility. He's missed three days of work going to court. He has two tickets at home that he hopes to put on one day in court, and he'll miss another day of work for this. He doesn't know how much flesh his neighbor wants, but once again the police and others have tried to get him to sit down and negotiate and it's his way or no way. There is no compromise in his vocabulary. So he is being penalized for having a dog. Mr. Soresi said that the Council could see what a "piece of work" his dog is in how he's tearing up this Council room and has interrupted everybody barking. He thanked the Council for their time.
Mr. Soresi then asked for a quick version as to why cannabis has to be cash-based.
Mayor Barnett explained that because cannabis is still a federally classified level one drug, the banking system of FDIC backed banks can't operate in a way they transact on behalf of other businesses. Cannabis is still a federally illegal drug. Businesses cannot just enter the normal federally regulated banking system with income from that type of business activity.
Mr. Soresi said it would seem to him that, not at all unlike alcohol and prohibition, making cannabis business a cash business just allows room to make it easier to get away with things.
5. Consent Agenda
BIL 2019-8356 - A. Bills Payable: No. 6486, October 15, 2019
COR 2019-8357 - B. Claims Ordinance: No. 6333, Payroll, September 27, 2019
RES 2019-8355 - C. Resolution: Authorize an Agreement with Lytx, Inc. for DriveCam Equipment and Services
Summary: This authorizes an agreement with Lytx, Inc. for DriveCam equipment and services.
A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING EXECUTION OF AN AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE VILLAGE OF DOWNERS GROVE AND LYTX, INC.
RES 2019-8348 - D. Resolution: Authorize an Intergovernmental Agreement with the State of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for Fairview Business District Streetlight Replacements
Summary: This authorizes an intergovernmental agreement with the State of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for Fairview business district streetlight replacements.
A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING AN INTERGOVERNMENTAL AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE STATE OF ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY AND THE VILLAGE OF DOWNERS GROVE
MOT 2019-8360 - D. Minutes: Note Receipt of Minutes of Boards and Commissions
Summary: Plan Commission - October 7, 2019; Environmental Concerns Commission - October 9, 2019
Motion: Commissioner Hosé moved to adopt the Consent Agenda as presented. Commissioner Earl seconded the motion.
Mayor Barnett declared the motion carried by voice vote.
6. Active Agenda
7. First Reading
ORD 2019-8354 - A. Ordinance: Amend Disabled Parking Provisions
Village Manager Dave Fieldman asked Village Attorney Enza Petrarca to make the presentation.
Enza Petrarca, Village Attorney, explained that this issue is currently under State law. This amendment would allow officers to write tickets through the Ordinance.
Commissioner Sadowski-Fugitt asked how they know it's a violation and that it's not the person that the handicapped permit is issued to.
Commissioner Earl said there are tag numbers that are issued to a specific person.
Commissioner Kulovany said that a driver is not allowed to park in a handicap spot if the handicapped person has been dropped off in a store. They must be in the car.
Mayor Barnett said that enforcement is the best way for compliance. Making this easier to enforce locally assures enforcement.
MOT 2019-8358 - B. Motion: Award $323,651.55 to H&H Electric Company for Traffic Signal Modernization at the Intersection of Finley Road and Finley Square Mall
Mr. Fieldman said that the contract amount is just over $323,000 and is within budget. The traffic signal was constructed in 1985 and has exceeded its useful life. They received two bids and H&H was the low bidder with a good reputation with the Council.
ORD 2019-8353 - C. Motion: Amend the Number of Class R-3 Liquor Licenses
Village Attorney Petrarca said that this is to increase the R-3 licenses by one license to allow retail sale to Foxtail.
INF 2019-8371 - D. Information: 2019-2021 Long Range Plan
Mr. Fieldman said that staff is presenting the Council's 2019-2021 Long Range Plan consisting of four main components: strategic goals, trends and issues affecting long-term future of the Village, strategies and solutions to address key trends and issues, and priority action items to be completed by April 2021. He said that the Long Range Plan guides the actions of the Village and is used for policy decisions. He reviewed the schedule of work by staff and Council to prepare this plan. There are many key changes including strategic goals linked to the Comprehensive Plan to show the vision goals and objectives of that document. In addition, they have linked the long-range plan to the series of annual reports on line in direct response to Council requests. He said annual reports are often organized by strategic goal.
Changes to the Village's facility sustainability plan is now the Village Facilities Replacement and Sustainability Plan. In addition, a great deal of work was done by the Council to create the Priority Action Items. There are eight priority action items with development of an implementation schedule as depicted in a Gantt Chart. Mr. Fieldman said he thinks one of the biggest changes is the idea of a thorough reconsideration of our Priority Action Items once they have drafted the Village's Facilities Replacement and Sustainability Plan which is scheduled somewhere between the first and second quarters of next year. There has always been a mid-cycle review, but this is much more a re-look and reconsideration to place the Village in a better spot to understand its organizational capacity once that plan has been drafted.
Mr. Fieldman said that the Strategic Goals were confirmed and have not changed in the past few years. He then talked about the FY20 Budget preview. On the General Fund they anticipate an increase of expenses at about $1.5 million. To keep a balanced budget there are some General Fund revenue increases including an increase in the property tax levy in the amount of $650,000 for public safety pensions. There is also a small increase in property tax levy for operations, the first one in eight years. Increases in other existing revenue sources may occur as necessary.
He then showed a slide of the Priority Action Items schedule. He said extensive work was done by Council and staff and he asked the Council for any comments or questions.
Mayor Barnett said it was a lot of work. He said it is time to start acting on their decisions.
Commissioner Kulovany commented about an item related to potential downtown design review, and the other on the tree ordinance. He hoped that sometime in the future they could look at this more closely. He presented the Development Study Group prepared by him and a colleague. He said the report includes issues, questions, what to avoid, characteristics of a high quality downtown, possible solutions and recommendations.
Commissioner Kulovany said the emphasis is based on citizens being upset about the approval of the apartment building at Main and Maple. In his view there was a general feeling among the people that their input wasn't taken seriously and that recommended changes couldn't be accommodated by the developer because it was so late in the process. One of the points the developer made to Mr. Kulovany (who was a private citizen at the time) was that it's a lot easier to incorporate changes much earlier in the process before they spent money in plans and engineering. This raises the potential that a developer may go into a community with less than full community support. The Village has very good downtown design guidelines, but they are not very enforceable, so it's up to the presence and stature of the community development organization. The thing that is so important in Commissioner Kulovany's view about the downtown is the building that will be built in the next five or ten years will shape the way it looks for the next 50-60 or a hundred years. He's also noticed that the Village is competing with other suburbs for shoppers, for diners, and for businesses and people that want to move here.
Commissioner Kulovany said that there are questions that arise regarding ensuring durable and high quality projects, that don't detract from an eclectic downtown. Should the 2009 Downtown Design Guidelines be updated, and the 2008 Downtown Pattern Book be updated? How can community expectations for the downtown be balanced with owners' property rights? How do staff and the Village Council obtain more tools to request positive changes without impeding the development process? To address some of these questions visits were made to numerous communities to discuss with their community development groups their downtown design review boards, and how they were established and developed. He reviewed some of the information obtained from those communities and their approach to potential development.
Commissioner Kulovany then asked what does the Village want to avoid. He noted projects that negatively affect the Downtown, not giving the community early opportunity to view and comment on proposed Downtown projects; a development process that does not allow a community to buy into a project; even when changes are requested by staff, a builder is not obligated to honor those requests; dictating architectural styles and details because it is important that downtowns change over time. The characteristics of a high quality downtown include establishing a sense of place; supporting the character of the downtown; is built over time; is multifunctional, pedestrian friendly and walkable; encourages people to congregate or gather; promotes human activity and attracts others; creates a high level of community "ownership." The best way to ensure high quality design and construction standards is by complementing surrounding buildings, protecting and enhancing existing property values, building upon the small town, Village aspects of Downers Grove in the downtown core area. The objective is to make downtown a desirable development location by encouraging economic development favoring small business owners, establishing a streamlined review and approval process, and setting guidelines for the community in advance that provide clear direction for developers to incorporate into their plans early in the process. Guidelines allow citizens to provide feedback earlier in the process that increases buy-in, and buildings are planned according to pre-approved Village standards that help avoid projects that don't fit in. He then discussed various design considerations and options to consider. Among the options to consider are 1) continue the current process whereby staff works with the developer encouraging compliance with Downtown Design guidelines; 2) staff requires downtown development to substantially comply with Downtown Design guidelines; 3) add a preliminary or concept project review step at the Plan Commission level; 4) establish a Downtown Design Review Board.
Commissioner Kulovany then reviewed the recommendations based on the Study that include creating a Downtown Design Ad Hoc Committee to evaluate all options. This Committee would hold public meetings to determine which options make the most sense for Downers Grove. They would also evaluate and made recommendations to the Village Council. He provided suggestions as to the make-up of the Design Ad Hoc Committee made up of nine members including representatives of the Plan Commission, the ADRB, the ZBA, downtown property or business owner, downtown resident, appointees by the Mayor.
Mayor Barnett said he is looking forward to talking in more detail about this during the review time.
Commissioner Hosé agrees on the timing and looks forward to it as well. But design guidelines already are mandatory through Special Use requirements. Main and Maple complied with these guidelines. He said the issue is that there is concern whether the design guidelines fit what folks want to see in the downtown area.
Commissioner Kulovany said that the second issue is tree preservation. This is a more challenging issue. He said he is Director of the Pierce Downer Heritage Alliance. They have been studying other suburbs and staff at the Morton Arboretum regarding tree preservation. He appreciates the Council consideration of these items for the future.
Commissioner Gray asked about the 2009 Guidelines and the Pattern Book.
Commissioner Kulovany said that these get into what architectural features can be put into the building. They give good guidance. The Pattern Book provides information as to placing buildings around the Village.
Mayor Barnett recommends that the newest members find the documents and minutes associated with them to see what has transpired.
Commissioner Sadowski-Fugitt questioned tree preservation. She would love to discuss this more in the first and second quarters. She wants to strengthen goals of sustainability and wants to see them consider stormwater retention early on with things that are in their control. She asked that this be revisited at a later date.
Commissioner Earl supports revisiting both of these items and also what can be done to save some trees on private property. She said they should be forward thinking with trees.
Commissioner Hosé said that he falls in a different camp regarding favoring private property rights. However, several residents in Denburn Woods have reached out regarding their neighborhood. It is reasonable to expect a fair amount of trees in a neighborhood like Denburn Woods, and he supports some type of solution for that neighborhood.
Commissioner Kulovany said he totally agrees with those comments.
1. Jack Marengo said he lives in the downtown area and lives in Acadia One condos. He has paid 1.5% tax to the SSA for 12 years and saw value to improve the infrastructure of downtown Downers Grove. They were however looking forward to not paying that tax once the TIF was paid and ended. He recently learned of Council options to establish a new SSA for business and downtown residence property owners. Option 1 was to maintain the same SSA boundaries and tax the resident property owners and downtown businesses at a reduced rate. Option 2 is to expand the SSA boundaries and tax more of the residents and property owners and downtown businesses. Option 3 is to maintain the same SSA boundaries for the businesses and exclude the resident property owners. Mr. Marengo voiced his preference for Option 3 to exclude the downtown resident property owners. While he can justify the previous SSA TIF tax for needed infrastructure improvements he does not feel that the new proposed SSA which would now fund the DMC, parking system improvements and upgraded landscaping should be a tax burden for only the downtown resident property owners and businesses. He said he was not asking to pay less tax. He is just asking that the taxes to support downtown be shared more fairly throughout the Village. He does not feel that the Downtown Management Corporation has provided any meaningful extra value to the downtown resident property owners. He feels these expenses should be shared by all the property owners in Downers Grove in order to support the heart of their Village.
Mr. Fieldman said that the DMC is meeting in late October focusing on commercial and business owners, and a regular Board meeting in November to vote on options. They will come back to the Council.
2. Sue Farley said she is a resident of the Village and is a Master Gardener and is involved in planting the gardens at the Library. She volunteers at Morton Arboretum, Lyman Woods, and many places in the Village. They have been active in getting people door-to-door to understand volcano mulch. She is also a member of the Clean Energy Task Force group, Darien Garden Club, and Downers Grove Garden Club. Ms. Farley has worked in the tree canopy of the Chicagoland Tree Initiative. She attended the long-range planning meeting and is a member of the Village's Environmental Concerns Commission. She said many residents are concerned about environmental issues and take it seriously. It takes 15-20 years for a tree to recover from stormwater damage. Working in the library she meets with people and hands out items on plants for water retention. They provide education on what is available. Her main concern is that they are not spelling out in the long-range plan a description of where to be environmentally sustainability focused. It is not focused. She is aware of other issues ahead for staff and Council, but many residents want green space downtown, stormwater control, water retention planting, recycling, composting, clean energy, electric charging stations. She emphasized that volunteers have these skill sets. There is a lot of interest in the community. They need words in the report that specifies the Village's focus on environment.
3. Alan Armstrong, President of the Homeowners Association for Acadia Building 2 said he is there to share information on planning for the SSA. At their August meeting there was not a lot of enthusiasm to continue with the tax. It is not a trivial tax. Building 2 alone is $60,000 of additional tax every year. The other buildings also each pay $60,000, which is 1.5% of the Property Assessed Valuation. It is expensive. Even if it is half that it would still be $30,000 per year per building. Other residents of the Village are not paying that amount. After the August meeting they talked with residents and a majority don't want the SSA. Those who are willing to pay additional money for the downtown, they understand that the DMC has events that helps residents, and there are parking issues. Both of those help mostly commuters and businesses. Landscaping and snow removal help residents, but primarily businesses. He asked that, going forward, the Village consider looking at a cost benefit equation. If ¾% of additional tax were approved, they would want $30,000 of value coming back to their building and to other buildings. That would be difficult to come up with. They are willing to pay their fair share.
4. David Rose said he has prepared a document on environmental sustainability to be given to the Council. He has been disappointed on how the Village is dealing with this issue. He said that the key points of his document are the relationship of what people understand as environmental sustainability and economic growth. Those two things are related, and they should discuss this relationship. He asked when these issues might be brought forward to discuss more fully.
Commissioner Hosé thanked staff and the Council for their work over the last few months. He thinks the changes make the long range plan a stronger document that has a lot of value. The check-in at the beginning of the year is vital. There are tough decisions to be made.
Commissioner Kulovany thanked staff for the work they do. It is important to understand that only so much can be put on the staff's plate. Related to volcano mulching, they should just fix it now. It is not a long-range plan issue.
Mayor Barnett said that on November 5 the Village would accept the plan.
8. Manager's Report
9. Attorney's Report
Pursuant to Section 2.5 of the Downers Grove Municipal Code, the following are presented for Village Council consideration:
- An ordinance amending disabled parking provisions
- An ordinance amending the number of class R-3 liquor licenses
10. Mayor and Council Member Reports
Commissioner Kulovany said that the Downers Grove Historical Society is sponsoring the Living Cemetery this weekend with actors portraying the roles of historical figures buried in the cemetery.
Commissioner Sadowski-Fugitt said Coffee with the Council is Saturday at 9:00 a.m. at the Farmer's Market.
Commissioner Hosé said the EDC monthly Board meeting took place last Friday. Michael Cassa said the International Council of Shopping Centers show will be held in the next two days. He has a booth there and has appointments scheduled with potential businesses. He wished everyone a happy and safe Halloween.
Commissioner Earl said that the Pierce Downers Heritage Alliance will host a night about bats on October 21. There are tickets online and it will be held at Another Round Bar and Grill.
Mayor Barnett asked for a motion to adjourn.
Motion: Commissioner Hosé moved to adjourn. Commissioner Earl seconded the motion.
Mayor Barnett declared the motion carried by voice vote and the meeting adjourned at 8:12 p.m.
Deputy Village Clerk