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DuPage kills work force housing proposal - again
By Jake Griffin | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 6/17/2009 12:00 AM

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The proverbial dead horse was beaten to a pulp at Tuesday's DuPage County Board development committee meeting.

A week after voting to move the controversial work force housing proposal to a panel that has no regularly scheduled meetings and no plans to convene, the development committee voted 6-1 to reject the plan. Chairwoman Kyle Gilgis cast the lone vote to keep the proposal alive.

Still, the full board may have to vote on the proposal again to make its rejection official.

The proposal would have allowed denser construction of residential units in some of the county's zoning districts.

A sometimes raucous and angry crowd made up mostly of residents of the Oak Meadows subdivision in an unincorporated part of the county between Wayne and West Chicago spent nearly two hours voicing its opposition to the plan. The residents blasted board members for not notifying them that part of their neighborhood was affected by the proposal. They complained that the county hadn't given them enough information about what the zoning changes would do to their neighborhood. And they made accusations that some board members were in favor of the proposal because it would benefit them financially.

The proposal was intended to provide affordable housing stock for middle-class professionals who work in DuPage.

Officials cited police officers, firefighters, nurses, teachers and skilled laborers as the target for the housing.

However, many residents believed the proposal would force them out of their homes and that their houses would be torn down to build apartment complexes for county employees or low-income families.

Steve Heike said he is a police officer who has lived in Oak Meadows since 2001. He said police officers wouldn't want to live in the type of complexes contemplated by the proposal.

"All (such) complexes have more crime that happens due to congestion issues and the demographics of the people who live there," he said. "This includes people you want to live in my neighborhood who are not as well off as myself and the people who own homes here. The term 'work force housing' is just another way for you to mask that you want to put in lower income and/or Section 8 housing."

Board member Debra Olson said the breadth of the public's misunderstanding of the proposal demanded it be scrapped. Residents accused her family's electrical business of benefiting from the proposal, but she said her company doesn't do that kind of work.

"There are so many lies being spread," she said. "I am going to vote to deny this because I want people to know the truth from the beginning rather than fight an uphill battle to salvage this."