Scofflaw Trustees At It Again

January 10, 2013

Village Government

by Norman Abramowitz

Trustees Olson, Allen, Reyes and Hughes violated village and State of Illinois law with their illegal rezoning of the Marathon station on December 6, 2012. But the question remains – will these scofflaw trustees violate the law yet again?

The Marathon station has been zoned residential with a ‘special use’ to operate as a gas station for many decades. The Patels, the owners in 2012, were perfectly happy with this arrangement, but apparently trustees Olson, Allen, Reyes and Hughes weren’t. They wanted to forcibly rezone this to commercial, despite the heartfelt objections of the Patels and many neighbors.

The final vote to rezone Marathon was at the November 15th board meeting. But since Trustee Reyes was not present they did not have the votes, and the rezoning failed. In a parliamentary move, Trustee Allen (who drove the forced rezoning effort) voted “no.” Normally this would mean the issue could be reconsidered and voted on again when Trustee Reyes was present at the next board meeting – ensuring success of the forced rezoning.

But apparently Trustee Allen did not understand village law, since if he did he would have known that the vote on November 15th was truly final. The village attorney clarified the situation in a memorandum sent to all trustees on November 30, 2012.

Trustees Olson, Allen, Reyes and Hughes were fit to be tied: they had lost their beloved forced rezoning of Marathon. So, at the December 6th board meeting they violated State of Illinois law by illegally forcing a ‘vote to reconsider’ on the agenda without the required 48 hour notice. This is an Open Meeting Act (OMA) violation. And then, despite warnings from the village attorney and objections from Trustees Bajor and Spande, they directly violated village law and illegally rezoned the Marathon station. Yes, that’s right – they blatantly violated two laws at one board meeting! A record!

Village President Birutis did the only thing she could do, and on December 20th she vetoed the illegal rezoning. At least she understands and upholds the law.

But the four scofflaw trustees are not done yet. They demanded the right to overturn President Birutis’ veto at the January 10, 2013 board meeting. If the veto is overturned and the illegal forced rezoning stands then the block-of-four trustees will have violated the law three times in a month – quite an accomplishment.

Will they rise (or sink?) to the occasion? Will they violate the law yet again? Will they show all of Winfield that they have complete contempt for the law, will trample the rights of the public with more OMA violations, and show they will do whatever it takes to get their way?

Well, see for yourself – tune in to the village board meeting on Channel 10 at 7 PM on January 10th to watch the four scofflaw trustees in action!

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About Positive on Winfield

Positive on Winfield is a blog with articles on local issues, local events, and local interests in Winfield, IL. Positive on Winfield is the blog website of the local civic action group, Winfield United for a Better Community.

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