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ZBA chairman objects to plan commission combo

GENEVA –  Geneva’s Zoning Board of Appeals chairman, Art Kaindl, objected to a proposal to combine that board with the Plan Commission and create one panel, the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Kaindl, who has been a member of the ZBA since 1989, asked aldermen Monday not to recommend the plan commission hold a public hearing on whether to combine the two.

The Community Development Department proposed the possibility of a single board that would expedite the city’s development review process.

Kaindl said the ZBA met six to seven times a year. It has not met for 21/2 years because of the economic downturn beginning in 2007, but that did not mean its members were out of touch.

“I ask the City Council to look unfavorably on this request,” Kaindl said. “We are talking to Joe Homeowner, and it’s his small problem that needs adjustment.”

Acting as the Committee of the Whole, aldermen voted, 8-2, to allow a public hearing. 

First Ward Alderman Charles Brown and 4th Ward Alderman Dorothy Flanagan voted no.

Director of Community Development Dick Untch said the ZBA’s duties were quasi-judicial, in that its decisions were not appealable to the City Council but in court. 

Untch said combining the two would not take that away, as the Plan Commission’s decisions would be recommendations to the City Council and its zoning decisions would be binding, just as they are now.

A review of other municipalities showed they fulfilled both legal obligations with one combined board, Untch said.

Mayor Kevin Burns said the question before aldermen was not to change anything, but to forward the proposal for hearing and have it vetted. 

“I realize that is the process,” Kaindl said. “And if it never gets advanced – that is my purpose.”

“The matter is not here for debate, it’s just an idea,” 5th Ward Aldermen Craig Maladra said. “Do you favor it being talked about .... As long as I’ve been on the City Council, we have never been afraid to have a conversation about anything.”

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