Jefferson Park association may alter stance on anit-upzoning
by BRIAN NADIG
The Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association could revise its longtime stance of opposing any zoning proposal that would allow additional density on a site.
The phrase "we are against any up-zoning in the neighborhood" has been in the association’s platform statement since the year 2007.
The platform was created at a time when there was a contentious debate on a proposal to build a 10-story building near Milwaukee and Lawrence avenues. The plan failed to materialize, and the city was stuck holding two parcels which it had acquired through eminent domain for the project.
In more recent years, the association has been at odds with Alderman John Arena (45th) over his support of a planned 16-story building at 4849 N. Lipps Ave. A lawsuit challenging the zoning for the project has been in court for 1 1/2 years.
"We had a lot of members who said (the platform) was too rigid and asked if we were anti-business, and the answer is ‘no,’" said platform committee chairman Brian Wardman, who is also the association’s vice president.
It was difficult to revise the platform until the association’s bylaws were altered in 2015 to allow platform changes every 3 years, Wardman said.
The revision calls for the support of zoning proposals that "promote reasonable business and neighborhood growth" and do not violate the "landmark character of the neighborhood."
Association members are being asked to approve the revision, keep the existing stance or to remove the entire issue from the platform, Wardman said.
Members also will be voting on whether to keep or remove four other existing stances including the support of downzoning of the neighborhood, the dissolution of the Jefferson Park Tax Increment Financing District, the proper regulation of all TIF districts to ensure accountability and the support of legislation limiting the use of eminent domain.
In addition, several new stances will be on the ballot.
Those stances call for the association to seek alliances with groups with similar views, more oversight of government officials, the support of environmental groups and the reduction of pollution in Jefferson Park, the end of gerrymandering, transparency in ward-related decisions, an elected school board, the opposition to privatizing city services and the support of local schools, including volunteering and keeping art and music an integral part of the curriculum.
Ballots were recently e-mailed to members and will be available at the association’s meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 24, in the basement of the Congregational Church of Jefferson Park, 5320 W. Giddings St.
The committee also plans to make phone calls and knock on doors in hopes of getting nearly all of the group’s 150 members to vote, Wardman said. The association has been gathering input from members regarding the platform since last fall, he said.
Unlike the association, another neighborhood group, Jefferson Park Forward, does not take stances on specific zoning proposals but has a general policy of encouraging transit-oriented development, which calls for more density near public transportation centers.