Saturday, October 26, 2013

Open Letter on Higher Densities in HP Downtown

Dear Mayor, City Council, and Commissioners,

 As a lifelong resident, past Councilman and Plan Commissioner, I would like to make the following concerned comments on the proposed zoning change.

I would suggest that staff recommendations to increase unit densities from 15 units per acre up to 81 units and increase height from 40 feet to 60 is extreme over kill and reflective of zonings only seen in larger cities or other towns that have very little in common with the culture and values of Highland Park. One does not need a sledge hammer to our zoning when a minor adjustment was requested to modestly increase residential use of the CBD area.

In the current B4 district (which was the intended focus of this study) 30 to 40 units per acre with a 4th story (which is set back) is enough of an increase to tweak future residential build out.

 In the late 90’s, after 100’s of neighborhood and property owner meetings, zoning was reduced from a maximum 60 foot height to 40 feet and 3 stories (a 4th story allowed in PUD with setback), reflecting the character of the North Shore and Highland Park. This was the resident’s response to the Optima building and concern of the changing character in the community.

The concept of modestly increasing density within a similar historic vision and bulk of our town center is reasonable. The proposed changes from the staff are not and need to be rejected as proposed. It was also notable that a traffic and retail capacity studies of this area, whether done in the past or present were not considered. Highland Park’s lack of major arterial connections has always played a major factor in the analysis of future growth capacity. This capacity directly relates to our enjoyment.  I again suggest a modest adjustment instead of the promotion of the significant changes proposed by staff.  If one was to hold public meetings across the city on this issue the response would be very similar to mine.   Please call me if you wish to discuss.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Early Voting and Election Day Polling Place Changes

The Highland Park police station located on 1677 Old Deerfield Road will be the New Early Voting Site, replacing the Community Health Center on Green Bay Road. There will be plenty of parking and space for voters to get in and out quickly.

At the request of North Shore School District 112, we have also moved election day voting sites from Red Oak School, Ravinia School, and Lincoln School. To replace school sites we have added more precincts to Ravinia Festival, transferred some to a new Immaculate Conception site, and will also use the Police Station on election day. All new sites have plenty of parking and will provide easy access.

Our County Clerk Willard Helander has been a great help responding to the requests from our schools. Willard had her staff work with Mayor Rotering and myself to provide good polling place alternatives for election day and early voting. The change in the early voting site will accommodate easier access to more citizens and provide opportunities for future efficiencies during our county election process.

More information will be forthcoming from our County Clerk and our local towns in the near future but wanted to give everyone a heads up since the Lake County Board approved the changes on Tuesday.