Carpentersville's biggest employer not happy with village
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Carpentersville's biggest employer says he's so fed up with what he calls a lack of leadership on the village board and a lack of competency in its community development department that he plans on shaking things up by running his own slate of candidates in the next election.
"I want a new government — I just don't have faith in the guys that I know," said Tom Roeser, president and chief executive officer of Otto Engineering. "Sometimes the coach has to throw a few bats to show people he means it."
Village President Ed Ritter acknowledges there have been some communication issues over Roeser's interests in the village but says officials have always been willing to partner with him.
"We do work with Tom, we have cooperated with him and we just did something at Tuesday night's meeting that will allow him to move forward with some of his plans for the Morningside townhouses," Ritter said. "So it's not always us against him. In many instances, we try to find ways to help him."
Roeser wants the board to manage the community development department, something Ritter says is not proper because trustees shouldn't involve themselves in day-to-day operations.
In addition to running Otto, Roeser spent millions of dollars renovating its riverfront buildings and has bought up 150 foreclosed houses and 67 rundown townhouses in Carpentersville he's fixing up to sell.
Roeser, vice president of the Boys and Girls Club of Dundee Township, also rents space in his Otto buildings to small business owners.
Roeser said he has some issues with the village:
The first, he said, happened three weeks ago and involves the village taking seven weeks to issue six permits so he could replace residential driveways.
He was told the delay was because he never completed a land survey for the driveways.
Jim Hock, the village's community development director, said it typically takes two weeks to issue the permits. The delay, in this case, was due to a personnel matter.
The second issue involves a business license for a tenant inside Otto's building at 11 W. Main St. that Roeser says took five months for the village to issue.
In the same building two weeks ago, another tenant who had been there for three years was just told he needs an occupancy permit.
In both cases, the village was unaware either of those tenants were inside the building, which is why the responses were so late, Hock said.
"This is something I inherited when I got here," said Hock, who was hired last November. "I'm following up on information that I found out when I got here."
The final issue involves a brick driveway Roeser installed three weeks ago on a commercial property at 3 N. Washington St.
The village says the driveway violates local codes because the brick is not permeable.
The village later issued a stop work order on the project and a citation to the landscaping company Roeser hired to do the driveway, Hock said.
While Roeser has done a lot of good for Carpentersville, he still has to follow the village codes, Ritter said.
"The code is not something that you only comply with something you feel like," Ritter said. "As much as we want to support Tom and try to help him, he cannot dictate which codes he's going to follow and which codes he is not going to follow."
For his part, Roeser has no plans to replace the driveway and says the best way he can bring about change is by recruiting candidates for office.
"Sometimes codes evolve and maybe they should allow it," Roeser said of the driveway. "At this point, I'm going to tell them I'm not going to remove the driveway. They can fine me if they want."
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