"A slap in the face of the Village."


That’s a direct quote from Commissioner Marylin
Schnell, speaking out forcefully on Michael Prince’s 4929 Forest LLC project having changed the look and feel of the project, apparently to lower construction costs, but bypassing village requirements for prior approval of such changes.

So, is it a slap in the face or not?



What was approved then (left), and being built now (right). Then, a big fairly featureless cube filled with luxury condos. Now, a big fairly featureless cube filled with luxury condos.


The
Plan Commission uses standard imperatives on any approved construction project:

“THE DEVELOPMENT SHALL SUBSTANTIALLY CONFORM TO THE ARCHITECTURAL AND LANDSCAPING PLANS PREPARED BY __________ DATED ___________EXCEPT AS SUCH PLANS MAY BE MODIFIED TO CONFORM TO VILLAGE CODES AND ORDINANCES.”

What staff and Mayor Sandack said is the new look substantially conforms, so let’s not get into stop orders and potential litigation. I can relate to that; it is a big project that is in a TIF district, so the property tax is all gravy for the village: a good deal so let’s not screw things up, just let it go because it is substantially the same building. There is no harm, so no foul.

The Plan Commission is very consistent in their requirements, and makes very clear:

“ANY CHANGES TO THE CONDITIONS REPRESENTED BY THE PETITIONER AS THE BASIS FOR THIS PETITION, WHETHER THOSE CHANGES OCCUR PRIOR TO OR AFTER VILLAGE APPROVAL, SHALL BE PROMPTLY REPORTED TO THE VILLAGE. CHANGES MAY REQUIRE ADDITIONAL REVIEW OF THE SUBDIVISION”

and:

“IT IS THE PETITIONER’S OBLIGATION TO MAINTAIN COMPLIANCE WITH ALLAND VILLAGE LAWS, ORDINANCES, REGULATIONS, AND POLICIES.” APPLICABLE FEDERAL, STATE, COUNTY.”

So I see where Schnell feels the Village has been “slapped in the face” by the builder. It is Mr. Prince’s obligation, as the owner of record of 4929 Forest LLC, and as part of the approval of the development, that he present any changes for approval prior to making them. That is the requirement.

There are multiple meetings required by muni ordinance where the look and scope of the project are hashed out, (28.1602), a preliminary approval by staff (28.1603), final approval (28.1604), and any amendments to scope and look (28.1605). There’s at least two building inspections as well as an electrical, plumbing, and sewer/water inspection where the builder is required to be at these inspections, and so he has had multiple opportunities at his location to make the village aware of changes made.

No wonder Schnell used the analogy of a “slap in the face”; Mr. Prince had his opportunities, as did the inspectors, were they equipped with a set of proper plans.

So, as Commissioner Sean Durkin wondered , sounding a bit embarrassed and miffed by this turn of events, how did this come to pass?

Good question.

Given Mr. Dabareiners very short track record with the village, had he known of changes in the project, I think he would have immediately made 4929 Forest LLC follow village procedure, probably with another red tag (halting the project until back into conformance, which he has done once already). He seems quite good about his job. So that may leave it at the feet of the field inspectors. A dropped ball.

Does this open the door wider for the next builder to ignore procedure? There’s plenty of construction projects planned or underway in the village that, given the building economy right now, builders would love to squeeze some cost out of. If the village is granting forgiveness instead of permission, why not change cast stone to brick, and brick to stucco or something cheaper?

Where were the inspectors bringing this to the attention of the village during the framing of the building? Changing a roof line and wall materials are pretty noticeable, but I don’t know if it is substantial, and I highly doubt it makes the whole project unsafe in some way.

It is a fact on this one, it is specifically the builder responsibility to inform and ask permission for the variances from approved plans. Everyone who builds here knows this. I do not know the bond amount- the minutes from the April 2005 Plan Commission meeting are not available on-line (a continuing saga). ‘Onus’ is a legal obligation, and it is on the builder in this case.

It will be interesting to see if there is any fine, taken out of the bond fund, or if council gives 4929 Forest, LLC, a pass on this. This situation, and the village’s response, will set a precedent, so staff and council must be careful that the precedent is not that we as a village lose control over how things get built.

If they give a free pass with no fine- no slap financial slap on the wrist for Schnell’s “slap in the face”- it is inevitable there will be another builder who will do the same. Is that what we want?

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