DuPage County ready to deal with overseeing COD
For at least three years, the College of DuPage and Glen Ellyn have bickered over who has jurisdiction over the college's 273-acre campus.
And during that time, DuPage County officials have stood by and refrained from entering the debate.
COD and the village this week struck a preliminary agreement that would transfer regulatory control from the village to the county, while preserving the college's incorporated status within Glen Ellyn's village limits.
DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said Thursday that while the county has been on the sidelines, officials are ready and willing to take on oversight responsibilities. County officials say that will include regulation of stormwater, building and zoning -- and COD will have to pay for any associated fees.
The county, college and village boards all must approve the proposed five-year agreement, which would allow for three five-year extensions. Cronin said the state's attorney's office will review the document during the next few weeks before bringing it to the county board.
County board member JR McBride, who lives in Glen Ellyn, says he believes the proposal is needed to prevent COD from deannexing from the village.
"It just got to a point where it was too personal," McBride said of the dispute that college and village officials had over Glen Ellyn's inspections and permit fees. COD officials argued the college wasn't under the village's jurisdiction, and didn't have to submit to its review process.
By getting county inspectors involved, McBride said he's hoping the problems college and village encountered can be resolved. He said the building codes for DuPage and Glen Ellyn are "extremely similar."
"For right now, this is a good solution to get everybody back to what they do best," McBride said.
Cronin said he didn't foresee any problems with county enforcement.
"I have great faith and confidence in our team of inspectors," Cronin said. "I believe they're consummate professionals, and I'm sure they'll do a fine job. If COD needs us to inspect, we're willing to inspect."
COD attorney Ken Florey said the college's arrangement with the county is effectively the same as if deannexation took place. COD officials had sought that option, until the deal with the village was struck this week during a mediation session with DuPage County Judge Hollis Webster.
Florey said the college plans to work with the county on review of building plans and other regulatory controls that the village had sought to exercise. He doesn't foresee any conflict with the county, and said the college is hopeful for good intergovernmental cooperation.
"We're not going to the county and going to start a big debate over what ordinances apply and what ordinances don't apply," Florey said. "The failure to work cooperatively is what caused this to get to this point."
Still, several county board members said they want to see the final draft of the agreement before deciding whether to approve it.
"I would like to see the fine print," said board member Dirk Enger, who serves on the development committee.
Board member Grant Eckhoff said he wishes the county didn't have to get involved in the dispute, and that his preference would have been to leave the campus under the jurisdiction of the village.
McBride said county involvement was needed, in part, because he doesn't want property owners trying to deannex every time they have a dispute with a municipality.
"Any time you can work out a compromise with other governmental agencies, it's always in our best interest to do that," McBride said.
If the COD campus ends up under county jurisdiction, Eckhoff said he expects DuPage inspectors to enforce all the county's regulations.
"I'm not going to tell anyone on staff to give them some type of a break," Eckhoff said. "They are going to have to follow our ordinances."
Board member Jim Zay strongly agrees. "If (COD officials) think they are going to come and get a rubber stamp from the county," he said, "I think they're mistaken."