The following letter was published in this week’s issue of the Gazette.
To the Editor:
I attended the Village’s Zoning Workshop at the Harmon Firehouse on March 21, 2019. The public learned for the first time at that meeting of the existence of the “Municipal Place Gateway and North Riverside Neighborhood Zoning Working Group,” which had apparently been meeting for quite some time to discuss plans to rezone large portions of the village. The next day, March 22, 2019, I submitted a FOIL request to the village for documents related to this group, including communications between its members. On April 24, 2019, over a month after my original request, I was told by the village clerk that I would not receive a response from the village concerning whether or not any documents would be provided to me until June 28, 2019, which is ten days after the only other scheduled public information session about the rezoning plans.
Why the extraordinary delay?
If it’s true, as we’ve been told by Trustees Gallelli, Olver and Simmons, that no plans have been made to rezone these areas, then shouldn’t the village be able to release whatever minimal documentation exists in less than three months? Conversely, if real plans have been made, and recommendations for zoning changes that will be implemented have actually been discussed, then not only should these plans be released for public review in advance of the June 18 public information session, they should already be publicly accessible on the village website.
Of course, with the publication of the most recent Bicycle Pedestrian Committee minutes, it is clear that very specific changes to the zoning code are already being planned, and this simply calls into question the motivation for the village’s delay in making the “working group’s” work public.
Our village is run by a small number of individuals from one political party—some elected, some not—who make public policy in secret while sitting in their mansions behind stone walls in the part of town where density is discouraged by re-zoning to enlarge lot requirements, and where the homeowners are never going to be faced with a diminution of the value of their property resulting from short-sighted, results-driven zoning policies that bring about commercial encroachment of their residential neighborhood.
As a matter of official policy, our village board refuses to answer questions from the public at their meetings. They distort the FOIL process to prevent freedom of access to information. The public has the right to know what its representatives are planning. The village must release this information now.