New, Improved and Now Legitimate
Legitimizing Our Planning & Zoning Commission
In Village President Paul Serwatka's early May Newsletter, his first Newsletter as our new village president, he spoke of the appointment of a new Chairman to Lakewood's Planning and Zoning Commission, Mr. John O’Hara.
As Paul stated then, this appointment was part-1 of a 2-part plan to bring a new level of legitimacy and professionalism to Lakewood's Planning and Zoning Commission.
Commission vs Committee
(This is Quite Important!)
It is statutorily mandated by the state of Illinois that our village maintain an independent Planning and Zoning Commission.
This Commission is to be comprised of up to 7 residents, independent of the board of trustees, who are appointed by the president and board of trustees and is intended to serve the following functions:
Conduct Public Hearings
Make Findings of Facts
Make recommendations to the village board of trustees
The Commission is intended to hold these hearings, examine evidence, determine facts and make these recommendations on a variety of issues including:
Special land use requests
Ordinance text or map amendment requests
Plans for future development
Set-back line amendments
Site plan approvals
After holding a public hearing, reviewing evidence and establishing a Finding of Facts, the Commission would then make a recommendation to the board of trustees to approve, or not to approve, one of the above listed issues.
In 2008, under our former village president and board of trustees, a Planning and Zoning Committee was created.
This Committee was a distinct and separate entity from the statutorily mandated Planning and Zoning Commission.
This Committee was comprised of the village president and two trustees selected by the village president.
This Committee served very specifically, and very intentionally, to bypass the statutorily mandated Commission.
This Committee, comprised of the president and two trustees, held its own hearings and made recommendations to themselves and fellow board members.
(Worth noting that this Committee that was making these recommendations to themselves and other board members, already held three of the four votes necessary to approve or not approve any of the above listed issues.)
There are many who believed that the existence of this Planning and Zoning Committee, if not grossly improper by its existence alone, certainly could be perceived as having the appearance of impropriety.
Village of Lakewood Zoning Map
Lakewood's Woodland Hills Subdivision Site Plan
Ending the Impropriety and Bringing Legitimacy
At the July 25th 2017 meeting of the Lakewood village board, newly elected Village President, Paul Serwatka, proposed a long awaited ordinance disbanding this Planning and Zoning Committee.
The disbanding of this grossly improper Planning and Zoning Committee meant that after a decade of questionable Planning and Zoning decisions (including the approval of the $66 MILLION TIF/Developer Tax Subsidy ) all such future matters would NOW only be heard, and recommendations would NOW only be made, by our statutorily mandated, independent and legitimate, Planning and Zoning Commission.
Placing important issues such as these before an independent Planning and Zoning Commission of qualified appointed residents, moving forward, will serve well to avoid the many costly and upsetting disputes that have taken place between residents and the village in prior years.