Roosevelt Road war demands definition
In 2012, a string of residential properties on Beecher Avenue in Winfield were forcibly rezoned "town center" which opened the door for commercial enterprises, town houses, and condominiums. I watched as homeowners wept at village hall meetings, pleading with the trustees to leave their properties alone. This included an 85-year-old woman whose home was well kept — both inside and outside.
Fortunately, at the last minute amendments were added to the rezoning which protected the residential owners from being forced to sell their homes. But these amendments were hard fought and not part of the original plan orchestrated by several trustees.
Now the battle has moved to Roosevelt Road where efforts to forcibly rezone a series of residential properties to commercial status has taken on steam.
The trustees in favor of rezoning — Tim Allen, Tony Reyes and Jim Hughes — insist that they are not engaged in eminent domain, just forced rezoning. But the net result is the same: the forced transfer of properties from one private owner to another private owner, with the intent of enhancing tax revenue for the village.
Across our nation, this has become the method du jour for municipalities to quickly solve their tax revenue problems. It is called "eminent domain lite," "backdoor eminent domain," and "disguised eminent domain."
As the newest member of the Village of Winfield Plan Commission, I believe that a clarion call is needed to help the residents of Winfield rightly understand what is going on under their noses.
In the case of Winfield, our intense political discord will find resolution only when the key issue in play is rightly defined. Once that occurs, we might find that the political wars will finally come to an end. After all, who wants to be labeled as an advocate of eminent domain abuse?
Robert C. Greer
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