A new day dawning?

Freeze on Number of Multifamily Dwellings Repealed

The River Forest Village Board voted 5 to 0 on December 14, 2009 to repeal the village's eight–year freeze on the number of multifamily dwelling units. Could this mark the beginning of the end for River Forest’s hostility to affordable housing and the people who live in it?

Since late 2001 any developer who wished to build new multifamily dwellings in River Forest — nearly all in the $500,000+ range — had to tear down or convert to nonresidential use the same number of existing multifamily units. Naturally they bought the lowest cost apartments they could find, further reducing River Forest’s miniscule supply of housing affordable to households of modest incomes (like teachers, village employees, seniors, recent college graduates, social workers, retail workers, and many more). And developers had to raise the price of the new construction they built to cover the cost of acquiring the multifamily units they were forced to buy and destroy. For more details: Click here

It was literally a “lose–lose” situation.

At a candidates forum at the Buzz Cafe last spring, both candidates for village board  President, John Rigas (who won) and Steve Hoke, said they felt this freeze was illegal and should be repealed. For perhaps the first time in 21st Century American political history, both candidates fulfilled their campaign pledge.

Hoke, who continued on the village board as a trustee, formally raised the issue of repeal late last summer. At a meeting of the whole, the Village Board unanimously voted to recommend repeal. The measure was referred to the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals for a public hearing and recommendation.

At its November 12, 2009 pubic hearing, the River Forest Zoning Board of Appeals voted 5 to 2 to recommend repeal the 8 year old freeze on the number of multifamily dwelling units in River Forest.

In a refreshing case of candor, two ZBA members who had voted for the freeze said they had been wrong eight years ago. The only members voting against repeal were Chairman Frank Martin and David Berni, both appointees of former Village Board President Frank Paris who was the force behind the freeze.

A special thanks to President John Rigas and Trustee Stephen Hoke for fulfilling their campaign pledges, and to the entire River Forest Village Board for hopefully ushering in a new era of respect for all residents of River Forest of all incomes, races, or ethnicities.