I am writing with my and many neighbors' concerns about the large building proposed for the corner of Oak Park and Van Buren by The Community Builders (TCB). They have held two community meetings to discuss the building and "take our temperature" about it. In neither of the meetings did TCB mention the zoning variance they are requesting for 21 additional apartments to be built there (37 instead of the 16 that zoning would allow). Because of their avoidance of the most critical variance, they have been duplicitous with the community.
The building would sorely overcrowd the area, a conclusion we had come to before we saw TCB's variance request on the Plan Commission's Sept. 6 meeting agenda on its website. Overcrowding: We can expect 50-70 people to be put up on the corner if 37 apartments are allowed, which would double the number of people residing in two adjacent blocks (in houses and apartments) on both sides of Oak Park Avenue.
This is untenable and unnecessary. As one neighbor posited at the meeting, "What good are 20 apartments, 25, 30, 35 or 37 apartments at that site?" No one offered an answer, though it seemed that all of the Oak Park committees were favorable toward TCB's proposal. Since the building will be totally Section 8 or otherwise subsidized, the larger the number of units, the greater the monthly check from the government.
At the Plan Commission meeting, concern was also for depressing property values in the community. Realtors we have asked say values will most likely drop 25-35%.
One little house that has been occupied for 20 or more years by a neighbor will be hurt much more. When the owner asked about being compensated, he was derided. A commission member said real estate is speculative to start with and intimated that having been beside a gas station before, he shouldn't have an issue. But yes he should and we all should. The size and type of the building proposed will be a disaster for the area.
I have lived in Oak Park 42 years in my house (two blocks from the site). When I came, Oak Park had the Equity Assurance program for homeowners, which helped stabilize the community. It has been long gone because we bought into the community, not speculatively, but trusting that the village would always do what is best for its residents. We ask the commission and the board to do what is best for us, not overcrowd us and drive down our property values.
Yes, support low wage earners, but adhere to practices that work and reject this. Disperse units throughout Oak Park and not concentrate them on an extremely small lot for the benefit of speculating investors and developers.
Answer Book 2018
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