I loved your letter in today's Press and the Independent. I find it odd that the Press neglected to put in the part about your e-mail address, but whatever. Your message was truly on target and your sentiments are echoed by many folks here in Elmhurst. Yes, believe it or not, there are loads of longtime citizens here who have had it up to their necks with all of the over construction and the messes that come with all of the new Mc Mansions. To illustrate how many people agree with your points, look no further than the city elections of April '05. Not only did every one of the aldermen who Mayor Marcucci can call 'his guys' lose, but if just 151 voters had changed their pick to Paula Pezza, we would have a new mayor in Elmhurst who would closer regulate all of the overbuilding happening here.
I'm a 45 year old resident, living on Swain near Mc Kinley since 1965. You may have seen my name in the Press, Independent and Doings editorial sections. For the past 5 or 6 years, I have had numerous anti-overdevelopment letters and issues that go with that problem posted in the local papers. I also worked closely with Moira Moriarty's successful aldermanic campaign as well as Paula Pezza's near miss in the Mayoral race.
It was about 7 or 8 years ago when Mayor Marcucci started talking to local builders and developers and basically told them that Elmhurst was theirs to take and make millions off of. He continually stays in touch with these developers. Oh yeah, check out the thousands upon thousands of dollars those builders donate to Marcucci's campaign coffers. I've seen the list which is a matter of public record and it is a veritable who's who of builders in Elmhurst. Marcucci lets them 'build wild' and in return he gets campaign contributions and the smug satisfaction that Elmhurst is no longer 'run down'. Elmhurst never was 'run down' but the truth is, and the Mayor admits it himself, he was spurred on to encourage this mega homes development when he read a Tribune article years ago that said our town was on the downslide. Just a couple of lines in one newspaper and the Mayor goes 'wild' with over-development.,
The fees builders pay in Elmhurst to ply their trade here are minimal and I donít even want to get into the massive property tax breaks that Mc Mansion builders get here. O.K., I'll get into it. Long and short is when a builder buys an old home here and tears it down to build a million dollar plus Mc Mansion, he only pays the low taxes (usually less than 4 grand a year) that were assessed on the OLD house. The Mc Mansion, even when fully built and on sale to the public, still only elicits the previously low property taxes assessed to the lot. We have had giant completed homes here that have stayed unsold for over a year that only have their property taxes raised once someone buys the home. While this is a York and Addison (for homes north of North avenue) township issue, the Mayor and the city council can talk to the township powers to change this slow tax assessment procedure but he refuses to do so. This is one of the reasons why the Elmhurst Schools are hurting for funds, due to the slow way increased property taxes arrive into their treasury. Downers Grove assesses all newly built homes and properties on a quarterly basis which is what I have written to the papers about and asked our city to work to also do, but nothing has changed.
A few other points.
*Right now, Elmhurst has close to 100 homes for sale here that have a million dollar or higher price tag. It is taking longer and longer for each of those homes to finally sell. (Thanks to a bad economy, higher interest rates, massive taxes and equally huge charges to heat and air condition these monstrosities.) Drive around town and you'll see about 30 to 40 MORE Mc Mansions being developed.
There are also dozens more homes new or barely lived in that sell for between 700 and 900 thousand dollars. Those are not moving either.
* By my house, within a 4 block radius, there are currently 6 new homes under construction and 2 more are about to be sold to developers. I am sick of having to take detours on closed streets and dodging giant trucks, tractors, trailers and bulldozers just to get around my own neighborhood.
* There are towns in Illinois that put restrictions on just how many teardowns can occur annually within their city limits. (Wilmette, Lake Forest and other towns have such limits.) Also, many more town restrict just how much building can be done on a plot of land. The towns that have limits on square footage of a given home avoid what we have in Elmhurst which is giant 3 story homes taking up as much space on a small suburban plot of land that the builder wants to put there. I've been told that Elmhurst DOES have a limit on how much house can be built on a lot but if that is true, nobody is paying attention to those numbers.
*Some towns, like down in Hinsdale, do enforce the 'fences around teardowns' law but the mayor and his peeps have little interest in making more work for his builder buddies.
I've babbled on long enough. Bottom line time. In April of '05, we made good headway in getting several of Marcucci's 'yes men' off the city council. In April of '07, we need to get the rest of his cabal off the council. Namely, we need to get concerned and intelligent candidates to run against aldermen Rose, Vanek and Jordan. Any help that you can do towards that political goal would be a step in the right direction. I too, am working on finding folks to step up and run for office.
Sorry for how long this e-mail is but once I get going on this stuff, I let a lot of it hang out.
Keep up the excellent letter writing and keep talking to folks about the things you wrote about. More people do care and if given the right inspiration, will take action like you have.