The Planner’s Progress

“Pounding it out”, is an old football phrase that means little by little, bit by bit getting somewhere. No big flash or sizzle, just nose to the grindstone three yards and a cloud of dust stuff. It seems Tom Dabareiner, Director of Community Development has harnessed some talented staff and is making some significant improvements due to their process of pounding it out and, as a direct result, our village is benefiting.

It began last year when the newly hired TD red-tagged some blatant construction site violations that had gone unchecked despite being reported by residents, in one instance multiple times. Red tag is a stop order; everything stops until the violation is remedied. It never makes builders happy, but it keeps them aware there are rules to be followed. At the time, resident ‘Traffic Calming Czar’ Bill Wrobel compared it to “having a new sheriff in town”.

Credit Don Scheidler, Chief Building Inspector, for a newly implemented regimen of regular inspections, up YTD 21% over last year. Even more to the point, Code Enforcement Site Visits YTD have almost quadrupled.

Tom, and Jeff O’Brien, Senior Planner (and Plan Commission liason), have continued with:

  • A strong definition of Recycling Collection Centers that effectively ensures state environmental protections for village residents.
  • A well written change to code eliminating creation of any future flag lots.
  • Multiple technical and language updates presented to the Plan Commission that bring out-of-date definitions and code sections into the present. The PC voted unanimously to send a positive recommendation to council, where it will appear next month.
  • They have moved forward, in conjunction with the Architectural Design and Review Board, to catalog all downtown structures and create a “Pattern Book” that will provide future projects guidance to avoid ungainly or ill fitting projects being proposed.
  • They are processing the first applicant under the Historical Preservation Ordinance, and continue to work towards state certification by inventorying historic homes in Downers Grove, a task partially completed over 30 years ago and since collecting dust.

The Village web page for Community Development has a wealth of information and maps on it, along with the village produced Resident Guide to Neighborhood Constructionalthough I still prefer the original Neighborhood Construction Watch Handbook, written by John Schofield and Charley Smart, which every resident should download, read, and keep handy.

“Pedal to the metal” is a phrase that sometimes means “hell bent for leather” as well, but in this case, Community Development seems to have a plan about what they need to do, and mapped out how they want to accomplish the tasks. In the bargain, the entire department have become more responsive to residents, and more open to input.

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One Response to “The Planner’s Progress”

  1. Marge Says:

    As you know MT, I’m a fan of Tom Dabariener. He and his staff have brought some long needed, positive changes to the Community Development Dept. in the last year. A real asset to Downers, IMHO.


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