Roosevelt rezoning divides Winfield candidates
Three candidates hoping to gain control of the Winfield village board are condemning a push by the current majority to rezone a stretch of Roosevelt Road.
But the three say they won't try to immediately reverse the zoning change if they and a political ally running for village president all get elected.
Trustees are expected to approve a plan Thursday to rezone 15 residential parcels along Roosevelt and Garys Mill roads. The rezoning of the nearly 25 acres to a commercial classification is being done at the request of the property owners.
Two of the trustees planning to vote "no" are Jack Bajor and Erik Spande. Both have been in the minority on the six-person board and would like to see that change in the April 9 election.
Spande is running for village president against newcomer Rob Hanlon. In addition to trying to get himself elected to the board as a trustee, Bajor hopes to be joined by running mates James C. McCurdy and Phillip Mustes.
Also vying for those three village board seats are incumbent Jay Olson and newcomers Tom Blackburn and Charles Jacques. Olson is one of four trustees pushing for the rezoning of Roosevelt.
Bajor, McCurdy and Mustes this week strongly criticized the manner in which the rezoning is being pursued.
"This is the most aberrant board I have ever seen," Bajor said. "The way the other four members conduct themselves, it's just a strong voting bloc that is very insensitive to input from other seated board members, as well as the residents at large."
Bajor said the rezoning of Roosevelt is being done despite the village's lawyers and staff advising against it. "I have never witnessed this before," he said.
Village Manager Curt Barrett has warned the proposed rezoning for Roosevelt would allow "any number of small or large commercial uses that may or may not be desirable." Another problem with the plan is that it doesn't create any "transitional zoning" between what could be built and the houses that would border it, according to Barrett.
Still, Bajor and his running mates say they won't seek an immediate repeal of the commercial zoning if they win the three spots on the village board.
"What am I going to repeal it to?" said Mustes, adding that any future changes to the zoning shouldn't happen until after the village completes its comprehensive plan.
"We need data," Mustes said. "I've got to have some information about what it should be."
Bajor said he agrees the commercial zoning might have to stay in place until the issue can go through the proper planning process.
Olson and three other trustees -- Jim Hughes, Tony Reyes and Tim Allen -- have been accused of ignoring the process when they had a rezoning ordinance drafted even though the village's plan commission never made a recommendation.
Jacques says the four trustees' actions are justified because the plan commission failed to do its job when it let the review drag to a halt.
The plan commission recently tabled the issue of rezoning Roosevelt until May, a month after the election. "It was an embarrassment," Jacques said.
In the meantime, Olson says he has no doubt that Thursday's vote to rezone Roosevelt is the right thing to do.
"It's the decision that allows us to move forward with a comprehensive plan, with the understanding that the vision directed by the board is retail development along Roosevelt Road," Olson said. "It's the best decision to make for the village of Winfield."