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updated: 9/19/2012 4:04 PM

Naperville approves voting district maps for 2015

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Some Naperville City Council members and residents still aren't ready to make the leap to a district representation system. But a majority of council members late Tuesday night finalized maps for the five districts that must be in place by 2015.

Council members voted 7 to 2 to approve the maps of the required "compact and contiguous" districts voters backed during the November 2010 election and a city staff committee has been tweaking for almost a year.

Beginning in 2015, five city councilmen will be elected from districts and three councilmen and the mayor will be elected at-large. Until now, all council members have been elected at-large.

The northern and western boundaries of District 1 are formed by the city limits. The southern boundary extends to 75th Street and the eastern boundary generally follows Rickert Drive, Plainfield/Naperville Road and the DuPage River.

District 2 extends from 75th Street to the northern city limits. Generally the eastern boundary is Washington Street to Hillside Road and the western boundary is formed by Plainfield/Naperville Road and the DuPage River.

The northern boundary of District 3 is formed by segments of Chicago Avenue, Prairie Avenue and Hillside Road. The western boundary runs primarily along Washington Street. The eastern and southern boundaries are formed by the city limits.

The two staff changes provide a clearer division between districts 3 and 4, so all residents of the Hobson's Pond and Waterfront Estates neighborhoods would be part of District 3. On earlier map versions, those areas were part of District 4.

District 4 extends between Washington Street and Route 59, and surrounds significant portions of the Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve. The southern boundary of the district generally follows 95th Street to the city limits and the northern boundary is defined by 75th Street.

District 5 encompasses the southernmost portions of the city. Most of the property is south of 95th Street between the DuPage River and the western city limits.

"We have talked about this. There has been ample time for the public to weigh in one way or the other," Councilman Grant Wehrli said. "I fully understand we're going to districts. It is literally time to shoot the puck."

Councilmen Joe McElroy and Doug Krause voted against the final maps.

"These are supposed to be compact, contiguous and equal. We have in District 4, 29,860 (residents) and District 5 is 24,813. There's a 20 percent difference there," Krause said. "I think we should have done a better job making sure these were equal. They're not equal so I question the representation."

Staff members said they specifically left District 4 with room for growth on the city's south end.

"I'm satisfied that we have a good map and that the staff has done its job," Councilman Robert Fieseler said. "The differential in population affects the southwest the greatest because of a lower number there, but I can understand why the demarcation was made that way."

In the past month, a group of high-powered residents has come forward with a plan to overturn the 2010 election results by placing a referendum on the April 2013 ballot to keep the current at-large system.

Dean Reschke, co-founder of Yes! At Large, spoke Tuesday and said the group believes the district system provides opportunity for "bad governance."

"Although we believe the Naperville Voter Education League posed the question because they felt Naperville wasn't working for them, we completely applaud their effort in trying to engage the community in this question," Reschke said. "It is equally apparent to us, as we go around and canvass the community in the last couple weeks, lots of people still don't even understand the issue and aren't aware that it was even voted on."

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