Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Election Results...and Promise ahead

I am very excited about the upside of our new President-elect Obama and the hope he brings this nation in these uncertain economic times. Working with both parties and promoting a policy that represents the majority central political view on issues will carry the day and promote good will. My expectations are great but the hurdles and needs are also large, so things will take time to change. What is important is that we will be going down a new path that can provide positive results for our nation.

Representative Karen May and Senator Susan Garrett can meet the huge challenges that face our State. They also must work with our municipalities to solve the state pension mandates that could increase our local taxes dramatically and steal money from funds that provide basic services and infrastructure repairs. The problems that face our state elected officials demand motivated and competent officials like Karen and Susan and I am comforted by their representation.

Mark Kirk has effectively worked with both sides of the isle in providing results for our citizens. His values and effectiveness have been demonstrated during his past service. Along with an Illinoisan in the White House we should see more federal support for Highland Park.

I have great hope for our future because of these highly motivated and competent officials providing leadership in government.

Please provide feedback on my Blog!!

I am hoping that more of you comment on the positions I express in my blog so I can use your opinions to govern better when I represent you in the debate of how we proceed as your city government within this community.

While I always take praise a little better than disagreement, both are needed for me to have a representation of the public point of view.

Along with your vote, interaction and networking within our community is a healthy and constructive methodology of consensus building and best practice decision making.

Please email me at stevemandel@comcast.net or call me at home at 847.831.0373 or on my cell at 847.456.6933. Thank you for reading my "On The Table" Blog.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Large home looms over Valley Road and splashes neighbors

Many of our established neighborhoods demonstrate the unique character of our town. As redevelopment occurs and homes are torn down our natural environment is diminished. Some new owners and their architect do a good job in integrating into the existing character of our neighborhoods. Sometimes new owners look at their property with total disregard for their neighbors and push to the absolute limits of the property rights doing great harm to the properties on the block. These out of place new homes can create visual domination over the natural environment, shed off tons of storm water, and remove natural buffers and virtual neutral zones between structures. Large and tall structures can also cut off needed sunlight in the winter time and cool breezes in the summer months to adjoining properties. The adjoining property owners property rights in these situations are compromised. The City should re-examine our laws to protect existing residents from this intrusion and destruction of our neighborhoods.

On Valley Road a new very large home was built in a very wet part of the street. This new construction demands to be drained so water won't flood the home and push waters onto adjoining properties. The cost of this new storm that runs from the far end of Valley out to County Line Road is expensive. There is currently an 50+ year old storm sewer that serves the street but is insufficient as per what is currently required by City code. While this new resident is required to drain his property to build his new home, he has the option of asking the rest of the residents to pay him back in the future. This recapture agreement is presented to the City Council and can be accepted as presented, accepted and changed, or simply rejected.

How much burden should be placed on existing residents for new development infrastructure on their block. I say that no costs should be applied to any adjoining residents because of the building of a new home. If someone wants to squeeze a large home in, let them squeeze the money out of their pocket and not reach into ours.

The other question we have to address as we look into new sustainable storm water practices is at what thresholds we should require properties to hook up into public storm water systems. The current law says building an additional 250 sq. ft. requires hookup to public storm water system. I am suggesting we increase this threshold substantially and look for ways to deal with storm water on site instead of channelizing it down our sewers and into flood ways.

We also immediately need to create legal channels for installation of rain barrels and rain gardens to protect our properties. We should also not make folks hook up to storm sewers if it is not needed. French drains, storage containers like rain barrels, and rain gardens need to be incorporated into our ordinances immediately.

The City has promoted and demonstrated new storm water approaches and now needs to make it work for homeowners. Nature always has better answers than engineers and bankers. We should listen to reason and always look for ways to reduce the pressure on our environment and costs to our existing residents.