It all comes back to affordable housing for Northbrook board of trustees

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Three somewhat disparate topics at Tuesday’s Village of Northbrook’s board of trustees meeting all circled back to one of their favorite topics this year, affordable housing.

The board discussed a proposed 60-unit affordable housing development, reconsidered fees developers would have to pay in lieu of providing affordable housing in certain subdivisions, and returned to a modern definition of "family," in zoning terms.

That number in Northbrook currently stands at three people unrelated by blood, marriage, adoption or guardianship. The board in swift fashion favored an increase to 5, under Gurnee’s definition of a "single housekeeping unit" whose members shared space, household activities and responsibilities and were not determined by a landlord.

The board will also consider increasing numbers of people living in a community residence from six to 8, and in a transitional living facility from nine to 15.

The importance of this, as the village looks to draft an affordable housing ordinance, is zoning in regards to "family" hasn’t been adjusted since 1988.

The Village Plan Commission is scheduled to make its final recommendations on amendments to Northbrook’s zoning code for an affordable housing ordinance on Nov. 17. It returns to the board of trustees for consideration on Dec. 8.

The ordinance would require new residential developments of six or more units to make at least 15% be affordable units, based on median income for metropolitan Chicago. Single-family subdivisions with six to 19 lots could pay a fee in lieu of providing affordable units on site. The board had yet to determine that fee and on Tuesday set out to do that.

"We’re very cognizant of the financial side of this both in collecting the fees but also the financial impact for market-rate housing," said Tom Poupard, Northbrook’s Development and Planning Services director, who presented this report.

With the ability to adjust the fee in lieu, Northbrook trustees looked at the model offered by Highland Park, which started at $100,000 per unit in 2003, moved to $200,000 in 2007, to $125,000 in 2013 and kept it there after a review this year.

The Northbrook board was split between making the fee $125,000 or $150,000.

"If anything I think that we would right now want to encourage development rather than put any restraints on it," said trustee Robert Israel, citing the pandemic situation. "So I would think that staying with $125,000 for now would allow us the most flexibility."

Trustees Johannah Hebl and Heather Ross made compelling arguments for the higher number, and the board decided to make its final determination on Dec. 8.

The board had a bunch of questions about 175 Pointe Drive, a proposed three-story, 60-unit multifamily residential building on a vacant 3.1-acre site on the southeastern corner of Pointe Drive and Lake-Cook Road. It’ll also be reviewed by the Plan Commission.

In addition to requiring a several zoning amendments and special permits, among other things the project had trustees wondering about green space alongside the 102 parking spaces, density, architectural considerations, accessibility to buses and emergency vehicles, and how it would affect the load on schools.

A couple trustees liked the opportunity for more affordable housing. Others believed it denied one of their main tenets — integrating affordable housing within the population.

"In all our direction to the Plan Commission as we’ve talked about affordable housing, we’ve talked about not wanting to create an ‘enclave’ of a certain type of use in a specific area, or saying that ‘that’s where the affordable housing piece is.’ And I think this does that and that’s my main concern," said board President Sandy Frum.

via Daily Herald

November 12, 2020 at 05:09PM

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