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Resident passing petition seeking rewrite of codes



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October 13, 2010 | 09:01 AM
Fontana — Sharon O'Brien is feeling disenfranchised.

The Fontana resident has been attending board meetings in her search for stricter regulations to the village's zoning and land use laws, but she believes elected officials are ignoring her pleas.

O'Brien wants to see village officials aggressively pursue rewriting ordinances to preserve the area and prevent unwanted development, especially on the shoreline.

She wants village officials to commit to funding a rewrite of the codes in the next budget. To show she isn't alone in wanting a change, O'Brien is collecting signatures on a petition to include the rewrite in the budget.

O'Brien said she took part in several meetings including those to develop the village's Master Plan.

"We now have a law and the codes don't match up with it," she said. "Not one single action has been taken since December 2009 to start this process."

O'Brien said she wants the board to know village taxpayers support a rewrite and are willing to pay for it.

"They don't care what it costs," she said. "They want it done right."

The rewrite is in the village's preliminary budget, but O'Brien is concerned it may not make the final budget this November.

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What are the codes?

In June, the village looked at rewriting Municipal Codes Chapters 17 and 18. Chapter 17 regulates all land division, subdivision and lot line issues and Chapter 18 covers zoning regulations.

However, because of budgetary concerns, the village held off rewriting the codes.

The code was written more than 40 years ago.

Over time, it has been changed to the point where it is no longer effective or coherent, Village Attorney Dale Thorpe has said.

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These chapters are unique from the rest of the village ordinances because anytime they are revised a public hearing is required. The two chapters also are referenced frequently at Village Hall and for Plan Commission issues.

Thorpe has said at public meetings that the code openly contradicts itself.

In front of a large audience during a June Village Board meeting, the board tabled a motion to have a moratorium on land use issues while the village looked at the codes. At that time, the board also directed the village staff to investigate creating moratorium, which the audience applauded.

But a moratorium was ruled out during a joint Plan Commission and Village Board meeting in July.

Village officials have estimated the cost of rewriting the two chapters of the code at about $100,000. However, O'Brien questions whether that price tag is accurate.

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The village hasn't placed the project out for a Request For Proposal. Instead it has received quotes for the rewrite from its attorney, planner and engineer. O'Brien would like to see an RFP for the project.

"We can find the money to do it in a diligent, proper and appropriate way," she said.

What sparks concerns?

Several proposals in the village have raised concerns regarding land use.

Fontana resident Steve Beers has proposed developing a property across the street from Geneva Lake with riparian rights. He could potentially do this by creating a condominium association with properties that are adjacent to the lake.

Beers owns a home on Geneva Lake and he has proposed including riparian rights with a property across the street from his home .

The village is looking at prohibiting "pyramiding," which would stop the spread of riparian rights beyond the shoreline.

In February, the Village Board approved the construction of a boathouse for a property on North Lake Shore Drive, despite some objections.

After that construction was approved, the village created an ordinance to ban new

boathouses.

O'Brien said she believes the village is taking reactionary approaches to its zoning ordinances, and only creates ordinances to prevent unwanted development after it occurs.

"They want (Building Inspector and Assistant Zoning Administrator Bridget McCarthy) to create Band-Aids for the code," O'Brien said.

Instead, she wants the village to take a Draconian approach to its zoning ordinances and land use laws. Without that, she believes the future of Fontana is in jeopardy.

Her goal is collect 500 signatures by the Oct. 14 Thursday Finance Committee meeting.

"We are going to make ourselves heard," O'Brien said.

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