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posted: 9/24/2012 1:43 PM

Des Plaines adopts new ward boundaries

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The Des Plaines City Council this week approved and adopted new boundaries for the city's eight wards ahead of the Tuesday, Sept. 25 deadline -- the first day aldermanic candidates can circulate petitions for the April 2013 municipal election.

The vote was 5-3 in favor of adopting the new ward boundaries. The new ward map is available on the city's website, desplaines.org/2012wardmap.

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Des Plaines 5th Ward Alderman Jim Brookman said at Monday night's city council meeting that residents didn't have the previous ward map available online to compare side-by-side with the redistricted map. He suggested delaying the vote to adopt the new boundaries to a special meeting before Tuesday to give residents an opportunity to review the boundary changes and give input at a public hearing.

"This does affect people who represent them. They need to know how the changes affect them," Brookman said.

Since 2000, the city's population has grown by 1,419 people to 58,364, according to the 2010 census.

Much of the growth has been in the city's 1st and 7th wards near the Union Pacific railroad tracks on the north and south sides, and in new housing developments in the 7th Ward, according to officials.

With redrawn boundaries, the total population is divided by the eight wards, resulting in an average of 7,296 residents per ward, with any given ward within about a 2 percent margin.

The redistricting map was prepared using current ward boundaries as much as possible, and using major roads and railroads as dividing lines, while respecting neighborhoods and precinct lines where possible.

Due to the number of new housing projects and condos in the 1st and 7th wards, those wards became geographically smaller with redistricting. The 4th, 5th and 8th wards saw minor changes, while the 6th Ward remained unchanged.

Sixth Ward Alderman Mark Walsten questioned why the city didn't start the process of redistricting sooner when city staff knew that it had to be done after the new census.

"It should have been handled better," Walsten said.

City Manager Mike Bartholomew agreed, and said he moved on it as soon as the matter was brought to his attention when he came on board six months ago.

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