Saying the time has come to create a larger revenue base for Winfield, a majority of village board members Thursday pushed through a controversial proposal to rezone portions of Roosevelt Road.
The decision by four of the six trustees to rezone 14 residential parcels along Roosevelt and Garys Mill roads was made despite opposition from residents and the village attorney repeatedly advising the board to postpone the vote.
"We are opening our door for business, and I am very proud to be part of that," said Trustee Jay Olson, who approved the ordinance along with trustees Tim Allen, Tony Reyes and James Hughes.
Village President Deborah Birutis said she is planning to veto the zoning change. However, the board is expected to override that veto on April 4.
Olson called the move to rezone the parcels to a commercial zoning classification "the right thing" for the village to do.
"I believe the potential retail development along Roosevelt Road is still our greatest asset," he added. "If we can do that in a very timely manner, we can start delivering sustainable annual revenues to our budget very quickly."
But while the village has been struggling to find money to fix roads and maintain its police force, Trustee Jack Bajor said he doesn't envision commercial development of the rezoned parcels generating "the dollars signs that my colleagues see."
In fact, Bajor, who lives next to the rezoned properties, says he believes redevelopment of the land as zoned will be "very detrimental" to himself and his neighbors.
Staff already has pointed out the new zoning would allow a variety of small or large commercial uses that "may or may not be desirable." In addition, there has been concerns raised about the lack of transitional zoning between what development could be built and the houses that would border it.
"This is quite severe," said Bajor, who abstained from Thursday night's vote.
Trustee Erik Spande, who cast the only negative vote, said he opposed the rezoning because of how it was done.
The formal process to have the village plan commission review the rezoning request dragged to a halt when the advisory panel decided to table it until May.
That prompted village board members to act on their own even though the village attorney told them to wait until after the plan commission made a recommendation.
"If we are going to be pursuing rezoning or developing some sort of major action along Roosevelt Road, this isn't the way to do it," Spande said. "Why don't we do it right?"
Spande said the best time to address the future development of Roosevelt is when the village is revising its comprehensive plan. That process is expected to start soon.
Allen, however, argues the rezoning needed to happen before the update of the comprehensive plan.
"We're trying to communicate with the consultants that will do the comprehensive plan in advance," Allen said. "We're basically sticking a stake in the ground and saying, 'The vision for this is commercial.'
"It also signals to the town that we're going to change," Allen added. "Winfield is going to make some money."
Spande said there eventually will be some commercial redevelopment along Roosevelt. But he said the existing rezoning plan was ill-conceived.
"I don't see a vision," Spande said. "I see action without thought."