Tell Oak Park government: No new high-rise at Austin Gardens. They didn't listen, but...
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Greetings to all of you who fought Albion:
As many of you know by now, we did not succeed in stopping the Albion project. We came very close, though: We prevailed at the Plan Commission, but the Village trustees ignored the Commission’s judgment and approved the project anyway on October 2. In the end, two of the three new trustees, both of whom campaigned on their opposition to the Albion plan, changed their position and voted for it. Those were Dan Moroney and Deno Andrews. Simone Boutet was the sole trustee to vote to stop the project. If Moroney and Andrews had not flipped, the project would have been stopped.
Although this project is still an awful mistake, it is not quite as awful as it would have been without the opposition it received. Albion was forced to make some modifications in the plan that reduced one of the many harmful effects of this project (shading on Austin Gardens during growing season). Unless some party launches legal challenges to the project, it will now proceed. The one remaining issue we can pursue with the trustees and the Village Manager is the lousy monetary deal they negotiated (rather, didn't negotiate) with the developer, Sammons Enterprises.
What remains is the undemocratic process by which projects like these are approved. This must change! Next up is the massive, $18 million Madison Street project. Will this be the same thing all over again?
The next election for trustees is April 2019. We have a chance to elect several more reform-minded trustees to back up Simone Boutet and possibly to shore up the resolve of Dan Moroney and Deno Andrews to be the reformers they promised to be. If so, we can work on lasting, long-term changes for the better.
For more about what happened and where we go from here, see the latest Change.org update--the link to it is further down on this web page.
Thank you again for your support,
Oak Park Coalition for Appropriate Development
PETITION: OPPOSITION TO A ZONING EXCEPTION
The parcel at 1000 Lake Street is zoned for an 8-story building. A building that is larger than that will have negative impacts on our community, including Austin Gardens, where increased deep shade will result in loss of trees and habitat, compromising citizens’ enjoyment of the park. We oppose the construction of any building at or near 1000 Lake Street that is taller than the currently-zoned 80 feet.
The parcel at 1000 Lake Street is zoned for a building no taller than 80 feet, with no more than 40 new residences. This zoning has been reaffirmed by two master plans by two different urban planning consultants that cost the Village many thousands of dollars. The zoning guidelines were put in place to maintain the historic character of downtown Oak Park while still allowing for reasonable development.
According to the Village Zoning Code, all downtown development must "protect the unique and representative character of the existing Village streetscape and prevent the construction of buildings which would be disruptive and incompatible with the character of both the street and the Village."
The Albion building would cast a permanent shadow over Austin Gardens, adding to the shadow already in place from the Vantage building. Albion admits trees will be harmed and in winter, the entire park would receive little or no sun. The value of the new Environmental Education Center there would be hurt. As the 2014 Comprehensive Plan states, “Parks, open spaces, and environmental features are critical in defining the character of Oak Park, and they are also the most costly assets to lose since they can take so long to replace.”
The economic justification for this building is doubtful. Demand for luxury apartments is already softening in Chicago, and there are many other luxury developments coming on the market soon in Oak Park.
This development does not move forward on our goal of economic diversity, as no affordable units are planned as part of it.
Research by economists and urban planning specialists shows that increasing density in a village of our size does not lead to lower taxes and, in fact, the opposite is more likely. The cost of this project will be borne by the residents, shoppers, and tourists of Oak Park, while the benefits accrue to the owner of the site and to Albion's parent companies in Michigan and Texas.
More traffic for drivers, more wind for pedestrians along Lake Street. Traffic will be pushed more onto residential streets, and wind tunneling is a problem for plantings and wildlife in the vicinity as well as for shoppers, students heading for school, and those who use the park.
The proposed residential+retail building adds nothing of interest. It's a copy of a building in downtown Chicago, consisting of luxury apartments and a few more stores. Why not something more innovative and useful, such as, for example, a business/tech incubator?
YOU CAN STILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Sign the petition, write to the Trustees and Commissioners, and attend the Board meetings at Village Hall. Keep an eye on the Village Board calendar.
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