Setting the Record Straight on the Maplewood Project & ZPA
Another attempt by my opponent to create controversy that just doesn’t hold water was the potential Maplewood development and the resulting changes to the Board of Zoning, Planning and Appeals (ZPA).
A developer approached the village looking to put in 300-400 market-rate apartments at the former Maplewood elementary school site in the downtown area near the Metra parking lot. We had just completed our comprehensive plan which called for higher density homes in that area near the train station. While we pointed out the need to develop the property because the school district no longer wants it and the village wants to get the property on our tax rolls to benefit the entire community, we never supported this specific project, which ultimately never moved beyond the speculation stage.
Even still, the ZPA Chairman at the time, one of my opponent’s supporters, claimed I was supporting it and actively worked to stir up opposition. He attended private meetings with my opponent at one of the homes near Maplewood and instructed residents on how they could defeat this and similar developments. He told residents that I supported this development, which was simply not true, and encouraged them to oppose it.
As a result of his actions, I met with the ZPA Chairman multiple times to try to resolve the situation. These were entirely inappropriate actions he had taken as chair of the village’s zoning board. In fact, we were informed by our attorneys that not only were these actions unethical, they were potentially illegal and opened up the village to lawsuits, because the ZPA must remain neutral at all times and must not intervene with petitioners outside official meetings. However, despite my pleading, he refused to agree to avoid any similar behavior in the future. Combined with the complaints I had received months before about the way he treated people at ZPA meetings, I had to take action. So, acting within my authority, I restructured the ZPA Board, giving another senior Board Member the position as Chairman and asking the now former Chairman to remain on the board and continue serving as a ZPA Member. Unfortunately, he refused and resigned in anger. Ever since, my opponent has been falsely saying that I fired the individual. I did not fire him; he resigned, and now the former Chairman is seeking a Trustee position, running with my opponent. The truth is that I attempted to work through the situation amicably, and I found a solution that would allow the individual to continue to serve the village, but he refused.