Zoning Without Planning

January 24, 2013

Village Government

By Karen Skillman

From time to time over the years individuals have wondered if the Roosevelt Road corridor that passes through Winfield should be zoned commercial.

Each time this question has risen several things have happened: village planners look at the expense of providing commercial-grade infrastructure necessary to attract commercial enterprise to the area and have rejected it as too costly,  residential developers have bought more of the available land and put in more houses ( ie: Normandy Woods Lane, The Woods of Cantigy and Garfield Court)  making future commercial redevelopment less attractive, and residents hesitant to lose the residential and wooded beauty of the area across from Cantigny.

One thing that has not happened is no commercial developer has stepped forward with an actual plan or serious proposal.  Without a plan or proposal the village has no reason to rezone the area and, in the process, negatively affect home values in the area with such a fundamental zoning change.  Such a major zoning change brings with it considerable risk to the property owners and the village government.   Without professional planning help, that risk becomes just a “gut” feeling that retail commercial development is the right choice for the properties along Roosevelt Road.  In this ever changing economy no one really knows the best course of action to take for future development, why not make these choices with the best possible information available? It is with great distress that from my position as member of the Winfield Plan Commission I watch the contortions the majority Village Board members put themselves and Winfield through to rezone the area: First, two years ago, they went after the Marathon gas station, then the wetland directly east of the Marathon.  Then they dropped the matter for a bit and decided to re-zone another neighborhood on Beecher Avenue (also without a plan or developer) against the recommendations of the Plan Commission.  Then last summer it was the Marathon station again.  Lately we’ve been led to believe that the Illinois Department of Transportation is going to take ten feet of  property along Roosevelt Road or that a commercial developer will offer  three times the residential value of that property or that commercial development is inevitable.  This information is hearsay and comes without sworn testimony from real estate appraisers, IDOT representatives or professional planners.

Further, the village was just awarded $100,000 grant money to fund an up to date re-evaluation of the Winfield General Development Plan.  This is a major project, one that could take a year or more to complete and well worth the time and energy.   But this majority of trustees have stalled the necessary vote to approve acceptance of this grant.  Their focus is Roosevelt Road and nothing else, they even seem to be forcing the matter out of the plan commission and onto their own agenda, perhaps before the April 9th election.

To make this major change in zoning without due consideration, without a solid plan, and without a serious business proposal, against opinion of village staff is simply outrageous and irresponsible – Winfield deserves better.

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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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