Energy rebates, housing plans, tax appeals

East Village Association membership meeting minutes, Nov. 4, 2013
Submitted by Meghan Quinn


CNT Energy, Vito Greco (Energy Impact Illinois)

Free energy audits through the end of the year for 2-4 unit buildings. Up to $400 will be subsidized and the homeowner would pay $500 max. There are always programs and grants to help make your home more energy efficient. Even if you don’t take advantage of the rebates, air sealing and proper insulation will earn your money back quickly. Another big energy loss is through inefficient lighting. There is a free program to install compact fluorescent lights and low-flow faucets.

East Village planning & development discussion

We live in a changing neighborhood with many teardowns and new home construction. This could be seen as good fortune, but the EVA board has been discussing how we can continue a positive transition while maintaining the character of the neighborhood that draws people here in the first place. As a community group, we want to begin to discuss planning tools for our community.

Some issues and concerns we've seen are as follows:

  • There has been a loss of historic housing stock in projects that are often profit driven.
  • Density, housing types and unit mix must be explored. Where do we want density? What do we mean by density? What mix of single-family, condos, apartments, 1 bedroom units, 2 bedroom units, etc. do we think is appropriate? 
What are we going to do about it? How can we control it?
  • The inclusion of green space is also a priority.
  • Many have felt there has been a loss of both human and architectural diversity. It is very important that we respect the past while embracing the future.
EVA President Neal McKnight answers questions after the meeting.

Two ways of addressing some of the issues were discussed: incentive-based and restriction-based. For example, do we try to create higher permit fees to prevent the demolition of existing structures, or do we try to change zoning so that it is beneficial to renovate existing structures, or both?

One incentive idea would be to promote coach houses as living space, allowing people to increase their square footage, while encouraging the renovation of existing buildings. The city currently makes it very difficult to renovate a coach house, and does not permit coach houses in current zoning. Another idea put forward is to ban split-face block, which many believe is too porous for the Chicago climate.

It is important that we be innovative when thinking about the possibilities. We can utilize tactics such as districts, overlays, as well as new zoning concepts. It is fine to figure it out as we go, looking at components and tackling smaller issues if necessary.

Some members have noticed poorly constructed buildings. Maybe we can think about enforcing higher development standards than what the city currently has.

Many great ideas have been discussed so far, and we will continue the discussion. The EVA Board will put together a more concrete plan to further the discussion and bring it back to the membership. We will also have planning experts from the city come in to speak with us. Please feel free to email any board member to express any ideas you have on this issue. Their email addresses can be found on the EVA website. You can also leave comments on the website and the Facebook page.

Board of Review

The Cook County Board of Review has been opened for tax reviews for West Town and will remain open until Dec. 3. You must challenge within this date window, and it can be done online at cookcountyboardofreview.com

Schools

Dozens of students, staff, parents and community partners attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for LaSalle II’s new outdoor classroom and garden on Nov. 13.

Newsletter

You can sign up on our website (eastvillagechicago.org) to get EVA’s monthly e-mail newsletter or to be notified of every article posted. You also can go to the website to like our Facebook page, which has a lot of information as well.

Upcoming

Chris Fifield will be presenting to the board Dec. 9 regarding the latest at 1822-50 W. Chicago Ave.

Meeting called to order at 7:03pm at Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott Ave.

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