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updated: 9/20/2012 11:41 PM

Winfield trustees seek to rezone Roosevelt Road residential parcels

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The first salvo has been fired in the political battle over developing portions of Roosevelt Road through Winfield.

Trustees supportive of seeing commercial development directed the plan commission Thursday to begin the process of rezoning more than a dozen residential parcels along Roosevelt and Garys Mill roads at the property owners' request.

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"Plan commissioners repeatedly said they want to do the whole enchilada at once," Trustee Tim Allen said. "So we're giving it to them."

The board also agreed to ask the plan commission to consider eliminating a controversial overlay zoning district that limits some property owners' ability to subdivide their land.

The secondary zoning classification, which prohibits land from being subdivided into any size smaller than just under an acre, applies to parcels on the southwest side of town.

Before the overlay district was approved by a previous village board more than four years ago, it was met with both criticism and praise.

At the time, some residents blasted village officials for unnecessarily limiting what property owners can do with their land. Other residents applauded the village's decision, arguing that the zoning code would ensure developers would be prevented from buying properties in parts of the village and creating denser neighborhoods.

Allen says the overlay district north of Roosevelt has been used to "confiscate the property rights of the people" who own land there.

As for whether Winfield should rezone properties along Roosevelt, Trustee Erik Spande said the idea should wait until after the village's comprehensive plan has been updated. Winfield is planning to revise its comprehensive plan.

But Trustee James Hughes said updating the comprehensive plan could take many months. In the meantime, the issue of rezoning Roosevelt should be discussed, he said.

"This has been a contentious area for our village since 1959," Hughes said. "We really haven't been willing to put this discussion on the table like it should."

Several trustees have long argued that Winfield's financial position could be improved if it were to become more aggressive when it comes to attracting commercial development, especially along Roosevelt.

Unless Winfield finds more ways to raise money, Allen said the village will continue to struggle to pay for road repairs and other expenses.

"At a certain point, we'll just be back here talking about revenues again," he said.

While the plan commission is expected to start reviewing the rezoning and overlay district issues in November, plan commissioners say it may take them months to come up with recommendations.

"It took us six or eight months to put the zoning overlay in place," Commissioner Dan Keck said. "Could it take us five or six months to remove it? I guess that answer would have to be 'yes.'"

Commissioner Dennis Clark added that the rezoning request is "a complicated issue."

"How long will it take?" Clark said. "I don't know."

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