No more flag lots

image004_3.jpgCouncil voted unanimously tonight to amend the muni code so as to ban further flag lots in Downers Grove. Commissioner Tully said he was looking forward to this day for seven years, and he had much to do with shepherding the ban through to approval.

Pierce Downer’s Heritage Alliance came out early in support of this ban, citing four main reasons, which we wrote up and sent in to the Village Manager for inclusion in the public record.

My comments tonight are as a director of the Pierce Downer’s Heritage Alliance. We have written a letter, agreed to unanimously by the board, to support the ordinance before you tonight banning flag lots from Downers Grove. It’s nice for us all, residents and government to be together on the right side of this issue at hand here tonight.

The stated purpose of flag lots in our current code – to provide best use for irregularly shaped lots – is no longer applicable. The historical use of flag lots – to provide rural areas with development opportunities – no longer applies here either.

By eliminating flag lots the village will realize several benefits:

  • Trees will be preserved that would have fallen from construction. This inadvertent but welcome presage of a private tree ordinance would prevent unwarranted clear cutting of property for what council clearly acknowledges is unwarranted development. As supporters of our nature areas and for supporting education about our surrounding nature, such as the Little Sprouts Park District program for 1st graders we help fund each year, PDHA are pleased by this tree preservation.
  • Stormwater problems will not be aggravated in the neighborhood by removing said trees, and also by making a large percentage of the former backyard impermeable, as well as paving an impermeable driveway of considerable size. “Do no further harm” should be a watch phrase of future development, and this is a strong clear first step to codify that simple yet laudable goal.
  • Property values will be enhanced rather than reduced, as the neighborhood character is protected rather than compromised. Deep lots with private back yards have a proven extra value. A large backyard area also adds desirable character to a neighborhood. Having a house next door or two doors down in the neighborhood’s backyard area reduces privacy, reduces value of the neighbors’ property and the EAV of the entire block, and negatively impacts the character of the neighborhood.
  • As Commissioner Neustadt has already ably pointed out, the safety of the particular flag house, neighbors houses, and the neighborhood are compromised with unwarranted flag lot development.

Pierce Downer’s Heritage Alliance has provided a letter to the Village Manager which, while it need not be read here now, we would request be placed in the public minutes, as written, to show our unanimous support for what staff is recommending, for the language of the ordinance amendments as presented before council for your consideration and, hopefully, for council’s passage tonight.

On behalf of the Pierce Downer’s Heritage Alliance, I thank you for your time, consideration, and hopefully for your approval of this ordinance tonight.

So that was a win situation for both residents and government. A hat tip to staff for being responsible to the public trust.

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