Changing the rules.
T-01-09-Proposed Amendments to the DuPage County Zoning Ordinance relative to Workforce Development Housing (AWFH) Regulations (Request to Send to ZBA for Public Hearing) covers that zoning changes that Sandack and staff are alarmed (concerned?) about. Downers Grove will word a resolution opposing the changes in the county zoning code this ordinance amendment proposes. Lombard and Woodridge have already expressed their opposition.
It’s buried on page 46 of the regular county Development Committee meeting, so it’s easy to see why it got overlooked by DG staffers and council. A better question is did the county give municipalities a heads up on this as it wound through the system? From how Sandack sounded this week, that would be no. I guess maybe it serves as an unfortunate example how some residents feel trying to find and follow things at the village level. It can sometimes be frustrating, and DG does try to get the info out.
After a quick read through no wonder the staff alarm, and call to arms to quickly get a formal statement opposing this into county and on the public record. This amendment effectively sets up a county run housing trust, which is not in itself necessarily a bad thing. The objections DG staff and council will try and formalize next week deal with the language, the implementation, and the changes to existing zoning principals contained within the ordinance amendment.
This meeting was held on March 3, 2009, so DG lost over a month before they got a heads up on what might rightly be called an abrogation of historical cooperation between county and local governments when it comes to zoning and comprehensive planning.
It allows for Floor Area Ratios (FAR) to increase 67%, from .3 to .5 coverage of a given lot, covering more lot, creating more storm water run off, creating more water problems for neighboring areas. It also reduces front, rear, and side yard setback requirements, compounding the water problem, and allows significantly higher “spot zone” densities than the county has ever thought of allowing previously.
It also creates Workforce Development Housing (WDH) development cost offsets:
“A WDH development that complies with the requirements of a Workforce Development Housing Development Agreement may, upon written request to the County Development Committee, receive a waiver or partial waiver of all building permit, demolition, and plan review fees required by the County Regulatory Fee Schedule, and a reduction in cash contributions (when required in lieu of park and school land dedications) as required the DuPage County Subdivision Regulations relative to only those units that Affordable Units.”
This effectively lets the county decode whether an unincorporated development will make any cash contributions to schools and parks, a tradition used instead of dedicating land to public use.
A WDH single family detached home can be built on a lot as small as 6,000 square feet. That raises the issue of lot splitting and creating flag lots in currently unincorporated areas of DuPage County. Attached homes can be built on lots as small as 3,000 square feet. That translates into crow-barring many units into undersized parcels.
Say what you will, this piece of the puzzle is fraught with potential to be abused. When governmental agencies start playing in real estate, it’s time to take a good hard look at who holds the keys, and who holds the purse strings. in other areas of the country where government sponsored housing has been established, independent oversight boards are sometimes also created, and the “checkbook” of revenues and expenses are regularly documented and reported.
Should the county move forward on this over the objections of a growing number of communities, such an oversight board would be a welcome addition to provide a checks and balances mechanism.