College of DuPage now under county oversight

Posted3/13/2012 5:48 PM

Building inspectors from DuPage County -- not Glen Ellyn -- will be responsible for overseeing College of DuPage's bustling building program, after the county board approved an agreement Tuesday that transfers jurisdiction over the 273-acre campus from the village to the county.

It brings temporary resolution to a long-running battle between COD and the village over regulations such as building codes, zoning and permit fees.


The county board voted unanimously -- 18-0 -- to approve the deal.

Though COD will remain incorporated within village limits, the agreement gives the county administrative and regulatory control over the campus as if it were unincorporated. COD will continue to pay village taxes and receive water and sewer service at incorporated rates.

The arrangement is the result of a Feb. 7 mediation session with DuPage County Judge Hollis Webster.

"The five-year intergovernmental agreement ends this deannexation dispute, perhaps," said county board Chairman Dan Cronin. "The mediation judge made it clear that DuPage County needs to play a key role in this partnership between these two very important members of our DuPage community."

Under the agreement approved by the county board, COD will be required to pay for all county permit fees and for all reviews and inspections at the same rates as the public must pay. Board member Grant Eckhoff successfully argued for not allowing COD and the county to negotiate a different fee arrangement for building inspections and related services.

"To put in something pre-emptively sends a signal -- a wink and a nod -- that we are somehow interested in coming off what our normal fees are -- that they're going to have to pay something else," Eckhoff said. "I suspect we'll get quite a bit of fees from this."

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County board member Dirk Enger noted that the county would have to cover overhead costs such as staff time. "There shouldn't be any concessions right away about fees," he said.

For now, COD will be subject to the county's R-1 zoning classification, which is for single-family residential buildings exceeding 10,000 square feet. It's the most restrictive classification, according to Paul Hoss, the county's zoning coordinator.

However, county officials are discussing the possible creation of a new "community college district" zoning classification, Hoss said.

COD will also be able to seek "variations, amendments, or other forms of relief from the applicable (county) regulations as permitted by state law or applicable ordinance," according to the agreement.

The college will be required to receive life safety code inspections from a local fire department. Under the agreement, those inspections would be the responsibility of the Glen Ellyn Volunteer Fire Company, unless COD chooses to switch providers. On Thursday, the COD board of trustees is expected to consider a joint petition to annex into the Lisle-Woodridge Fire District.


Though COD has its own police force, any requests for extra police protection from the county sheriff must be addressed in a separate agreement.

The agreement can automatically be renewed for three more five-year terms. At the end of each five-year period, the college can choose to return to the village's jurisdiction, or deannex.

County board member Jim Zay said the county showed leadership in helping solve the dispute and put an end to legal action between COD and Glen Ellyn. But he said he hoped that others -- North Central College and the city of Naperville, or Elmhurst College and the city of Elmhurst, for example -- wouldn't come to the county if they had disputes.

"I think it's sad it came to this point ... that two elected bodies can't come together. I hate to see how much taxpayers' money has been wasted," Zay said. "The county should be commended for coming in. But I hope it doesn't set a bad precedent."

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