Frustrated by the Winfield plan commission's failure to make a recommendation, a majority of village trustees who support rezoning and redevelopment along Roosevelt Road are moving ahead on their own.
Four of six village board members Thursday rejected the advice of Winfield's attorney and staff members by pushing a plan to rezone more than a dozen residential parcels along Roosevelt and Garys Mill roads.
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One of the trustees, Tim Allen, even hired his own attorney to draft the proposed ordinance, which is expected go to a vote on March 7.
"My vision is clearly to have a commercial Roosevelt Road that makes money for the residents through sales tax and commercial property taxes," Allen said. "Both of those things will go to fix our roads, maintain the services that we want, to pay our staff, and to not raise our taxes.
"This is a long overdue task that the village board should have done," Allen said. "It should have done it 40 years ago. It should have done it 50 years ago."
The move to rezone multiple properties along Roosevelt and Garys Mill roads to a commercial zoning classification is being done at the request of 15 property owners. Combined, they own about 27 acres.
"We have land owners asking for this," Trustee James Hughes said. "I believe it's their right, and I think we owe them an answer."
The formal process dragged to a halt earlier this month when the plan commission, which had been reviewing the rezoning request since November, decided to table it until May.
Despite the village attorney's opinion that the village board can't act on a zoning case until after the plan commission makes its recommendation, trustees are refusing to wait.
Allen accused plan commissioners of wanting to postpone their decision until after the April 9 election, when the makeup of the village board could change. Three seats on the board are up for election.
"At the meetings, they (plan commissioners) never actually discussed the pros and cons of the rezoning," Allen said, "All they talked about was whether or not they should postpone it and how long they should postpone it."
On Thursday, one member of the plan commission defended the panel's actions.
Commissioner Dennis Clark said one reason the rezoning issue was postponed was because members are "pretty much in agreement" that Winfield first needs to update its comprehensive plan.
"Everybody on the plan commission is interested in moving things forward," Clark said, "but they want to do it in the right way."
Village Manager Curt Barrett said Winfield is planning to launch the process of revising its comprehensive plan.
In the meantime, village staff has concerns about the proposed rezoning for Roosevelt because it would allow "any number of small or large commercial uses that may or may not be desirable," according to Barrett. Another problem with the plan is that it doesn't create any "transitional zoning" between what could be built and the houses that would border it.
"If you're going to have a big box or some kind of heavy-use industrial or a commercial use right next to neighborhoods with single-family homes, that's asking for trouble," Barrett said.
But most trustees say updating the comprehensive plan is a process that could take up to two years. In that time, they say, the village could miss opportunities to attract commercial development.
Trustee Tony Reyes said Winfield will continue to struggle to pay for road repairs and other expenses until it finds more ways to raise money.
"I don't need a new comprehensive plan to tell me what the right thing is to do here," said Reyes, adding that the residents who elected him two years ago want the board to do something about the lack of revenue. "Anybody who wants one (a new comprehensive plan) right now is doing nothing but delaying it."