River Forest trustees discuss Madison Street redevelopment plan
At a recent meeting, the River Forest Village Board discussed issues related to the Madison Street redevelopment plan and the possible use of eminent domain to secure property for the plan.
The board is the legislative and policy-making body of the village. It includes the village president and six trustees.
Below are the minutes from this meeting, as provided by the board.
VILLAGE OF RIVER FOREST
REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES MINUTES
A regular meeting of the Village of River Forest Board of Trustees was held on Monday, June 27, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. in the Community Room of Village Hall, 400 Park Avenue, River Forest, IL.
1. CALL TO ORDER/ROLL CALL
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. Upon roll call, the following persons were:
Present: President Adduci, Trustees Conti, Corsini, Colwell-Steinke, Dwyer and Gibbs
Absent: Trustee Cargie
Also Present: Village Clerk Sharon Halperin, Village Administrator Eric Palm, Police Chief Greg Weiss, Public Works Director John Anderson, Finance Director Joan Rock, Village Attorney Lance Malina, Village Attorney Lance Malina
2. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
President Adduci led the pledge of allegiance.
3. CITIZENS COMMENTS
4. ELECTED OFFICIALS COMMENTS AND ANNOUCEMENTS
a. Resolution - Honorary street sign celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the 700 Block of William St. Trustee Gibbs made a motion, seconded by Trustee Corsini, to approve the Resolution approving the secondary designation of the 700 block of William as "Historic William Street" and to authorize Village staff to place honorary street signs at the intersection of William Street and Oak Avenue.
President Adduci read the Resolution. Laurel McMahon, a former member of the Historic
Preservation Commission, discussed the significance of the block and the distinctive neighborhoods in River Forest. She congratulated the residents on the 700 block and discussed a resident who is altering his home and keeping with the original footprint and style of the period.
In response to a question from Trustee Corsini, Village Administrator Palm stated the Traffic and Safety Commission recommendations will be considered at the July 12, 2016 Board meeting.
Ayes: Trustees Conti, Gibbs, Corsini, Colwell-Steinke, and Dwyer
Absent: Trustee Cargie
June 27, 2016
Trustee Corsini commented on the repainting of the fire hydrants.
Trustee Gibbs stated he is pleased to see that the "dreaded" red light cameras have reduced
traffic accidents at Lake Street by 40% and by 55% at North Avenue. He welcomed all attendees and wished all a happy Independence Day.
5. CONSENT AGENDA
a. Village Board Regular Meeting Minutes -June 13, 2016
b. Village Attorney Invoice - May 2016 - $16, 194.40
c. Adoption of Annual Prevailing Wage Ordinance
d. Renewal of Automated Traffic Law Enforcement Agreement with SafeSpeed, LLC
e. Monthly Financial Report-May 2016
f. Village Administrator Report
Trustee Corsini made a motion, seconded by Trustee Gibbs to approve the Consent Agenda Items A through F.
Ayes: Trustees Conti, Gibbs, Corsini, Colwell-Steinke, and Dwyer
Absent: Trustee Cargie
6. RECOMMENDATIONS OF BOARDS, COMMISSIONS AND COMMITTEES
7. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
8. NEW BUSINESS
a. Purchase of a 2016 Elgin Pelican NP Dual Gutter Broom Street Sweeper from Standard Equipment Company through the Suburban Purchasing Cooperative Joint-Bid for $200,990 Trustee Corsini made a motion, seconded by Trustee Gibbs, to concur with Staff recommendation to purchase the Elgin Pelican NP dual gutter broom sweeper with enhancements from Standard Equipment Company of Chicago, 1L for $200,990.
Ayes: Trustees Conti, Gibbs, Corsini, Colwell-Steinke, and Dwyer,
Nays: Trustee Cargie
June 27, 2016
b. Madison Street T1F District
i. Amend Title 1 of the Village Code to Create a New Chapter 25 - Madison Street
TIP District Eminent Domain Restrictions - Ordinance
Trustee Conti acknowledged the residents who have attended the meetings and expressed their opinions regarding the Madison Street TIP. She also acknowledged their passion and investment in the community. She said there is a shared love that residents and the Board have of River Forest, their homes, the neighborhoods, and the desire for a stable and predictable future where we live. She stated we share the desire for a safe investment in our homes, we value our schools, and we also are your neighbors and your friends. She said she could not imagine the Board using eminent domain, and after listening to the concerns of the residents, she reexamined her personal beliefs on this topic. She stated she is a strong opponent of eminent domain for anything other than public safety, public health, dilapidation, and perhaps infrastructure. She discussed the 2005 Supreme Court case Kelo vs. New London, Connecticut decision that established the right of taking of homes for private development with the justification of some future public benefit and which made all private property vulnerable. She stated she could never support the transfer of private property against the will of the homeowner for the cause of public development even if it was deemed in the best interest of River Forest. Trustee Conti indicated that as far as the TIP goes, the government has the duty and right to encourage and incentivize development that is beneficial to its residents and to do so in a responsible and thoughtful manner. She commented on the current condition of the Madison Street corridor in River Forest and the potential for added value to the community. She said that because of this and the upturn in the economy, the Board believes it is an opportune time to begin a strategy for creating a corridor that adds value and worth. She expressed her belief that the residents of the Village are in favor of more restaurants, shopping, etc. Trustee Conti noted that the strategies for a non-home rule community are limited, that TIP was successful in River Forest and is the most effective tool available. She stated that she has concluded that River Forest can successfully implement a TIP including the residences in its boundaries without the threat of eminent domain and she will support whatever language is necessary to ensure that that intent is enacted in the future.
Nicholas Altier of 12 Ashland Avenue noted his home was built in 1916 and discussed the history of the home and his family connection with the home. He indicated the house should be on the significant property list and that he is concerned that the Village will level it. He said the proposed TIP area thrives and he is not concerned if a large structure is built next door. He stated his mother thought tax increases for the school is positive for the community.
Susan Allier of 12 Ashland Avenue stated she is speaking on behalf of two neighbors who are not able to speak because of the extreme emotions they are feeling. She said this summer has been stressful for her neighbors and their children with the threat of having to move out of their homes. She stated she does not feel the Board understands the position the Village is putting ninety six homeowners in and that their decision would affect these homeowners for the next twenty three years. She noted the Board members will not be the same during that period and said the TIP language should be clear. Ms. Altier read Jean Maloney's (18 Ashland) statement into the record which indicated the TIP should include only Madison Avenue and not include homes. She also read a statement from the Maddens that indicated they will feel like prisoners in their own homes for the next twenty three years. She said the Maddens are hesitant to plant a forever tree because of the uncertainty of their ability to remain in the home. She stated she shared the stories so it is clear to the Board that these homeowners are requesting that their homes be excluded from the TIP district or that the language they are comfortable with will be included within the TIP ordinance.
Mike Leonard of 621 Franklin Avenue noted he did not grow up in River Forest and does not live within the boundary of the proposed TIF district. He shared concerns regarding eminent domain and requested the Village make a commitment to not take anyone's home. He suggested the Village post information regarding who has purchased property in the proposed TIF district for transparency.
Derrick Mitchell of 15 Ashland Avenue stated he did not grow up in River Forest and shared his background. He shared his positive experience with his neighbors and that he feels he's "won the lotto" living in River Forest. He said he and his family welcome development and improvement to the Village but respectfully request that it is accomplished without sacrificing private residences or through the use of eminent domain to secure homes. He stated he has requested that his home is removed from the TIF and requested that the language he and some of his neighbors presented to the Board be incorporated in the TIF ordinance.
Scott Moller of 1006 Forest Avenue noted he lives outside the proposed TIF district. He said he does not feel that anyone should lose their homes over this. He expressed his agreement with Trustee Conti in regard to eminent domain.
Ed Pogue of 12 Lathrop Avenue indicated his home is 100 years old and said he is not originally from River Forest. He discussed his reasons for moving to River Forest. He said his family is considering an addition to their home but is unsure whether or not to go forward. He said the Village is putting their lives on hold. He suggested that the Village look at the Forest Park TIF which did not include any homes in the district.
Maureen Gorman of 11 Ashland stated she believes the statute has no merit. She said the Illinois Eminent Domain Act of 2007 requires an ordinance to use eminent domain and the proposed TIF ordinance is that ordinance. She stated the ordinance given to the Joint Review Board for consideration does not exclude the use of eminent domain against any property. She expressed her concern that the Village has presented the TIF as a benefit to the community and that she feels that it will not. She stated she and her neighbors will continue to proceed until their issues are addressed.
Mary Rose Smith of 1220 William Street indicated her home is not impacted by the TIF; however, she does not want a six-story high-rise in the River Forest. She suggested any developer interested in building in the TIF would require a lot of money and that could mean a Walmart or a Target, neither of which are desirable in the Village. She stated she does not agree with the size of the TIF or the inclusion of homes within the TIF. Thomas Burns of 15 Thatcher stated his home is also not in the proposed T1F district. He said he feels the TTF is immoral. He said he understands the need for a larger tax base but he would gladly take a tax hit if it would prevent taking anyone's home away. He stated he believes many other residents would feel that way if they heard the stories told this evening.
Jennifer Moore of 40 Ashland stated her home is not in the TIP but on a block affected by the TIP. She suggested there is no possible way the Board would vote for the proposed ordinance after listening to the resident's stories. She requested that single family homes are removed from the TIP boundaries to ensure that they are free and clear from any threat of eminent domain. She suggested that during the planning stages people remind themselves of the kind of community River Forest is. She indicated most River Forest residents are okay with being a bedroom community. She said additional apartment and condominium housing is both a financial and physical burden to the taxing bodies, infrastructure, and tax payers. She suggested the residents present at this meeting will determine whether the board members are reelected and thanked the Board for their service.
Peter Collis of Pete's Automotive Service, 7600 Madison Street, stated that although he does not live in River Forest he spends about eighty hours per week here. He noted he has been in business in the community for twenty six years and feels he is a part of it. He expressed his concerns about eminent domain and suggested the Village help the existing businesses and focus on the areas that need development.
Chris Raino-Ogden stated she does not live in the proposed TIP district but her sister does. She thanked the Board for their service to the community. She stated that while not everyone may agree about the TIP, it is not immoral. She noted the Board proposed the TIF to improve the community, not to harm homeowners. She said she is glad that the Board and residents present are her neighbors and she hopes the discourse can stay civil so that all can remain happy neighbors.
President Adduci stated the members of the Board are all members of the community, care about the community, and are trying to make it better. She discussed communications regarding the TIF and noted the Village put together a list of frequently asked questions and informational pages on the Village website. She said there are other documents regarding the reasons and purpose of the TIF that will be sent out in the near future. She indicated that increasing the tax base is not the only reason for the TIP. She noted the community wants a vibrant Madison Street and that it does not happen on its own. She stated Forest Park spent an enormous amount of their operating budget in the development of their TIF. President Adduci explained that the TIF boundaries were drawn to include enough area to build up the increment and why the TIF act states a period of twenty three years. She stated that the boundary was drawn to include and protect homes. She explained that the TIF act allows for assembly of land which allows developers to negotiate the sale of homes. She emphasized that the homeowner does not have to sell their home.
In response to a question from a resident, President Adduci discussed the buffering of homes from the CVS Pharmacy and noted buffering is a way to protect existing homes. I
n response to a comment from a resident, President Adduci reiterated that homeowners can say "no" to an offer and could still receive buffering from a development that they would not be eligible for without a TIP. She discussed how the TIP could provide infrastructure such as sewer and streetscaping sooner than could be possible otherwise. She requested that the residents read the TIP documents. President Adduci noted the residents may be seeing eminent domain and not seeing the benefits of the TIP. She acknowledged the residents1 concern over eminent domain. She stated the Board has no intention of taking homes by eminent domain and wants to prove that to the residents by passing a law to prohibit that. She noted the ordinance was written with the language provided by the residents and could have been written by the attorneys. She reiterated that the Board hears their concern and the homes will not be taken by the government.
In response to a question from a resident, President Adduci stated the Board is trying to address eminent domain and that the proposed ordinance will stand on its own.
Village Attorney Malina read a portion of page two of the ordinance regarding eminent domain which stated the ordinance does not apply if the TIP is not created. He noted the ordinance would still apply after the TIP period was over because the ordinance applies specifically to the TIP. He stated that eminent domain is dealt with in this ordinance and not in the TIP ordinance and the prohibition of eminent domain cannot be repealed.
In response to a comment from a resident, Village Attorney Malina stated that the right to eminent domain remains an option by statute whether it is in the ordinance before the Board or in the TIP ordinance. He noted statutes are amendable by a majority of the Board.
In response to a request for clarification from Trustee Corsini, Village Attorney Malina explained that the ordinance resulting from the referendum on home rule capping property taxes would have to be followed until the Village Board repealed it.
In response to a question from Trustee Corsini, Village Attorney Malina stated there are certain prerequisites that would be required to repeal the ordinance prohibiting eminent domain unlike repealing other ordinances. He acknowledged that certain procedures may not need to be followed but that is because of the language proposed by the residents.
Trustee Gibbs suggested that the communication regarding the TIP has been lacking and said he regretted that.
In response to a question from Trustee Gibbs, Village Attorney Malina stated it has been alleged that the TIP ordinance could supersede the ordinance prohibiting eminent domain, however this ordinance would still exist if the TIP ordinance passed. He added that the ordinance would not exist if the TIP ordinance did not pass. Trustee Gibbs inquired which ordinance would carry greater clarity to future Boards if the TIP ordinance referenced the ordinance discussed this evening.
In response, Village Attorney Malina stated he believes this is so but procedures have to be followed and the process needs to be restarted. Trustee Gibbs acknowledged this would cause a setback and said he believes it is important. He stated the Village has never taken a home using eminent domain. He discussed the Lake Street TIP and the condominiums that were relocated to make way for the development. He stated he was elected to serve the residents of River Forest and invited the residents to contact him in regard to the TIP.
In response to a question from Trustee Steinke, Ms. Gorman stated the residents want the exclusion of eminent domain included in the TIP ordinance.
In response to a question from Trustee Steinke, Village Attorney Malina stated the TIP process would have to start all over in order to include this exclusion in the TIP ordinance. Trustee Steinke pointed out that the reason June 27, 2016 some of the homes are included in the TIP district is in part to raise money. She stated she is not comfortable with the Village taking anyone's home away or with residents having to worry for the next twenty three years about that happening.
In response to a question from Trustee Steinke, President Adduci said that this is the first opportunity for the Board to talk about the TIP with the residents. Village Attorney Malina stated the ordinance applies whether the language is in the TIP ordinance or not, and he said it would provide clarification if contained in the TIP ordinance. Trustee Gibbs suggested that the clearer this Board in 2016 can make this, the better for future boards and the citizens are served.
To illustrate the reason the homes are included in the TIP, Trustee Gibbs said if half of the room was throwing a dollar into a bucket for future consideration of development, there would be more to work with if the other half was also contributing. He added that it does not mean their homes are in the crosshairs if their homes are within the TIP.
In response to a question from a resident, Village Attorney Malina stated the boundaries of a TIP district can be amended. Phil McKenna of Kane, McKenna and Associates stated he is not a lawyer but has experience with TIFs. Pie said that it is not easier for a future board to exercise eminent domain on a house that is already within the TIP than a house outside of it. He explained that developments happen in windows of five years and a future developer would not want to build the same thing a previous developer was looking to build.
In response to a follow up question, Mr. McKenna stated the TIP Act does not require a restudy of an area and noted that if there was a restudy of an area, the results will change.
In response to a resident comment, Mr. McKenna stated that based on the Tax Increment Financing Act of Illinois, this is a conservation area because more than 50% of the structures are thirty years of age or older. He said a conservation area needs to meet three other criteria out of thirteen and that is how the determination was made.
In response to a question from a resident, President Adduci stated that in 1987 River Forest created a TIP along the Lake Street corridor which included Harlem to Thatcher to Lake to Central. She said it included commercial property, townhomes, condominiums, and single family homes. She noted it was a very successful TIP which produced a surplus of $5 to $6 million dollars for the school system. She explained that added equalized assessed value is important for the Village in order to increase its commercial tax base as broadly and highly as possible. She said the commercial properties are of interest, not the residential properties. She stated the Lake Street TIP resulted in $65 million dollars of assessed value and noted the schools absorb the largest part of property tax dollars. She indicated the Village hopes to get more commercial properties paying more property tax dollars so that the residents pay less in property taxes.
In response to a follow up question from a resident, President Adduci stated the commercial properties in a TIP do not receive tax breaks.
President Adduci stated the TIP boundaries were drawn to provide a contiguous area, to secure the increment, and to ensure the residential properties have options to be protected from commercial activity.
In response to a comment from a resident, Village Attorney Malina stated there was a statutory limit on eminent domain in regard to the Lake Street TIP and eminent domain was an available tool. He noted that all the relocation in respect to that TIP was done on a voluntary basis.
Trustee Dwyer stated that the Village cannot legislate away eminent domain. He said he is not voting "no" on the ordinance for the reasons he has heard tonight but because he feels it is a false promise. He indicated that the ordinance would handcuff future boards from considering alternatives. He stated he is in favor of the TIP which will pool money to improve Madison. He commented that the Board hears the residents loud and clear but he believes a lot of the statements are more emotional than factual and are hurting the conversation. He said he believes the majority of River Forest residents feel Madison needs to be improved, and in order to do that, the Village needs to proceed with the appropriate planned development. He stated the residents voted in the Board to increase the tax base, increase services, or both, and he believes the TIP is doing that. He reiterated that the Board does not want to knock down anyone's home. He said it would be a hard decision to make and would have to be done for the right reasons.
Trustee Corsini noted there is a process and that the Board understands this is a very emotional issue. She discussed the research that was done which gives the Board some understanding of what kind of developments could go there. She said big box stores are not on anyone's radarand the Village is not talking about big box stores.
In response to a question from Trustee Corsini, Village Attorney Malina stated the process would have to begin with the first notices including the revisions in regard to eminent domain and that time period would consist of sixty days.
Trustee Corsini discussed the questions she feels should be considered in regard to planning and development in the TIP district. She inquired about the benefit that is derived from including residential properties in the TIP district. She noted the consultants stated it is easier to reduce than increase TIP boundaries. She expressed her disappointment and sadness that the community has had to come to the point of arguing and fighting before simply having a conversation about this.
Trustee Gibbs stated that he prefers the houses remain in the TIP simply because property taxes from the houses contribute to the fund. He noted that a developer who would benefit from the fund would have to negotiate with homeowners and that the power remains with the homeowners. He said he does not see future boards encouraging a private entity to tear down a house. He said he wants the language prohibiting eminent domain in the TIP ordinance to clearly state it is not this board's intention to take away anyone's home.
Trustee Conti stated the intention of changing the TIP ordinance is to allow homeowners to continue to maintain the freedom to operate their private property as they intend to operate and own it. She reiterated that is it no one's intention to take homes against the homeowners' will. Trustee Gibbs said the Village cannot make a law that eliminates eminent domain but can add extra hoops to make it more difficult.
Ms. Gorman stated that ultimately the homeowners would like their homes removed from the TIP. She said if it is deemed necessary to keep the homes within the TIP, the homeowners are willing to compromise with the addition of their language which they are comfortable with and which their attorneys say will protect them, to the TIP ordinance without additional qualification or language. She said she is willing to put her home in the TIP if it is what River Forest residents want and if it will benefit the community.
Trustee Corsini stated that no one on the Board has talked about condemning homes. Ms. Gorman said the Economic Development Commission have routinely talked about taking houses off line and John Houseal has talked about taking houses off line. Trustee Corsini emphasized that while they value the commissioners' input, they are not elected officials who make the final decisions.
In response to a question from a resident, Village Attorney Malina stated there are no such cases where an ancillary ordinance has prevented eminent domain. He added that a developer would never litigate it because they would have no standing. He explained that a developer could add a property to a TIP as long as it was integral and contiguous to the TIP, the boundaries of the TIP could be amended at a later date, and eminent domain could be used.
In response to a question from Trustee Conti, Village Attorney Malina stated that a board would have to vote at least a couple of times to begin the eminent domain process.
President Adduci summarized the wishes expressed by the residents. She said it is not unreasonable to put the language requested by the residents in the TIP ordinance. She said it doesn't matter if it moves the process out sixty days; what matters is getting it right. She suggested there is consensus among the Board regarding the addition of the language to the ordinance.
In response to a question from Ms. Gorman, President Adduci stated there is a schematic in the consultant's report. Trustee Gibbs stated the plan will be submitted by the developer.
Trustee Conti stated she would like to debunk the conspiracy theory that there is a developer waiting in the wings.
In response to a question from a resident, President Adduci stated the Board's fiduciary responsibility to the community is to ensure that the Village's money is spent effectively and efficiently in respect to safety, infrastructure, and business. She said taxes are levied in order to do this and noted many things are mandated by the State of Illinois. She said the Board tries to make everything work with the money levied. She explained that 48% of land in River Forest is taxable and of that land, most of it is residential with pockets of commercial. She said the Board looks at whether the Village can get more out of the commercial pockets by improving it, what tools are available to do that, and how to increase property values over time, and that is why the Board looked at a TIP. President Adduci discussed the consultant's report and said that there is no blight in River Forest. She stated that she and the Board want to conserve, preserve, protect, and improve Madison Street. She commended the trustees for their due diligence in looking at what a TIP does.
In response to a question from Trustee Gibbs, Village Attorney Malina stated the ordinance before the Board would not be needed if the language requested by the residents is included in the TIP ordinance.
In response to a question from Trustee Corsini, Village Attorney Malina stated the Joint Review Board (JRB) meeting scheduled for June 21, 2016 cannot be cancelled.
In response to a question from a resident, President Adduci stated a TIP for North Avenue is next.
Village Administrator Palm stated he would update the JRB on the TIP plan, there would be no JRB recommendation at the June 271'1 meeting, and the Village would go back to the JRB with the amended TIP plan at a later date. He said the Village would have to restart the clock, send out notices again, and reconvene the JRB once the Board has signed off on a plan.
Trustee Dwyer reiterated that an ordinance prohibiting eminent domain is making a false promise to the residents. He said he feels it is a waste of time and money to add the language to the ordinance as requested by the residents.
Trustee Corsini stated she is comfortable with this but feels the Board is not satisfying everyone.
She said the Village is not in the business of purchasing properties and tearing things down.
In response to a comment from a resident, Trustee Corsini stated there has to be a budget for the TIP as part of the process. She explained that development is market based, and any developer would have to go through a process of zoning and planned development review, etc. She stated the last thing a municipality wants to do is use eminent domain. She added that it is costly, time consuming, and is not something that normally happens. She said if adding eminent domain prohibition language will make the residents feel more comfortable, she is fine with it.
President Adduci stated the Village needs to redevelop Madison and North Avenue in an appropriate way. She said she believes there is consensus to put the language provided by the residents into the TIP ordinance and restart the process. Trustee Conti requested that the TIP documents be available two weeks before the Board is scheduled to vote on it.
Trustee Gibbs suggested the discussions tonight will give a clear message to potential developers of what the Village is looking for.
Trustee Gibbs made a motion, seconded by Trustee Corsini, to amend the Madison TIP documents to include the proposed eminent domain restrictions within the TIP ordinance itself and all the procedures required to do that.
In response to a question from Trustee Corsini, Village Attorney Malina stated the restart includes re-notice and public hearings.
President Adduci reminded all present that the Board cannot create a TIP in closed sessions. 11 June 27, 2016
Village Administrator Palm clarified that the Board is voting to take language sponsored by the residents and include it in the TIP plan but the homes will remain in the TIP boundary.
In response to a question from Trustee Corsini, Village Attorney Malina said there would be no need for qualifying language in regard to the language proposed by the residents because it is not a stand-alone ordinance. He added that there will be a lot of other language contained in the TIP ordinance.
In response to a question from a resident, Village Administrator Palm stated there are 17 PINs, keeping in mind that some of those dwelling units are multifamily.
In response to a question from Trustee Corsini, Village Administrator Palm stated that in the ordinance that the Board is not adopting this evening, staff added all the single family homes behind the commercial area to the list.
Ayes: Trustees Conti, Gibbs, Corsini, Colwell-Steinke
Absent: Trustee Cargie
Nays: Trustee Dwyer
ii. Discussion - Intergovernmental Agreement with Taxing Bodies
This matter was postponed.
9. EXECUTIVE SESSION
Trustee Dwyer made a motion seconded by Trustee Gibbs to adjourn the regular Village Board of Trustees Meeting at 9:32 p.m.
Ayes: Trustees Conti, Gibbs, Corsini, Colwell-Steinke, and Dwyer
Absent: Trustee Cargie