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Geneva to set hearing on ZBA, plan commission combo

GENEVA – Aldermen voted, 8-2, Tuesday to advance a proposal to combine the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals and Plan Commission into one. The issue will be considered at a public hearing.

City Planner David DeGroot said the target date is Oct. 10 for the plan commission to conduct a public hearing on whether the city code should be amended to create the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Going to one board would create a more efficient process, DeGroot said, as sometimes a petitioner who goes to the plan commission also requires a variation, adding weeks to a project as it goes from board to board.

In addition, the city’s zoning board has not met in 21/2 years, DeGroot said.

DeGroot said staff identified 30 of 50 past cases that would have moved forward more efficiently if the two boards were one.

Last week, ZBA Chairman Arthur Kaindl objected to creating one board, blaming the lack of business for the zoning board on the economy.

And as they did at the Committee of the Whole last week, 1st Ward Alderman Charles Brown and 4th Ward Alderman Dorothy Flanagan both voted against advancing the issue to a public hearing.

Brown said two panels allows more people to volunteer for the city.

“The fact that business has dropped off – there is a good chance business will come back,” Brown said. “Properties are beginning to move.”

Brown and  Flanagan also objected to the wording of the motion, saying it sounded like the policy already was changed.

But 3rd Ward Alderman Dawn Vogelsberg said when an issue comes to a public hearing, all sides are heard and transcripts are taken. 

“And it still has to come back to us as final,” Vogelsberg said. “A public hearing is a perfect place to kick it off.”

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