Arlington Heights trustee hopefuls talk housing, environment at forum
Housing and the environment were among the issues candidates for Arlington Heights village board addressed Saturday during a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters ahead of the April 2 election.
The five candidates responded to written questions from the audience during the congenial debate at village hall. They are vying for four spots.
Newcomer Mary Beth Canty, a management consultant, said the village needs more affordable housing to "support multiple demographics ... in a way that's not segregated."
The village "needs (housing) units more than the money," Canty said, referring to in-lieu fees developers pay to a trust fund in order to satisfy a municipality's affordable housing requirement.
While she agrees affordable housing is necessary to maintain a diverse community, incumbent trustee Robin LaBedz said in-lieu fees should be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.
"$15,000 per unit is not enough," said LaBedz, who was appointed to the board in 2013 and elected in 2015.
Tom Schwingbeck, a four-year zoning board of appeals member making his second run for the village board, said he wants to "carry on in the direction the board is going" and agrees negotiating on a case-by-case basis is an appropriate response while Laurie Taylor, president of the Northgate Civic Association, expressed support for cash in lieu of more units.
Saying he prefers developers produce affordable housing, incumbent trustee John Scaletta voiced concerns over how the village will manage the in-lieu trust fund. "If they (developers) walk away, how much affordable housing will we get?"
The candidates agreed the village must be environmentally responsible.
Scaletta, a board member since 2007, proclaimed the recycling program a success but expressed concern that some material is ending up in landfills.
Voicing similar concerns, Schwingbeck recommended making it easier for homeowners and commercial developers to install solar panels. He also suggested the village encourage use of electric cars by installing charging stations.
Canty proposed seeking grants to increase the use of solar panels. She also wants to increase accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists within the village and encourage agencies, including schools, to discontinue using single-use plastic and Styrofoam.
LaBedz advocated reducing the village's carbon footprint by promoting the use of solar, wind or thermal energy, while Taylor suggested the board seek input from members of the environmental commission and "survey residents to see what they want."