New Lenox debates basement requirement for new housing
By Erin Gallagher For The Herald-News September 11, 2012 8:40AM
Updated: October 25, 2012 6:02AM
NEW LENOX — Trustee David Smith has a different opinion about how homes should be built in New Lenox.
At a recent board meeting, he was relentless in saying so. He sparred with the developers of Heather Glen Townhomes for nearly two hours. The rest of the board did not appear to agree with Smith.
“You guys are opening the flood gates,” Smith warned fellow trustees.
Smith opposed allowing buyers to choose if they wanted to spend extra money on basements.
The village bans slab construction. Heather Glen, located off Laraway Road, east of Schoolhouse Road, has only built five units since 2005. The development is now owned by First United Bank in Frankfort.
The issue arose when the developer requested minor variances from the existing agreements. Art Zwemke, the bank’s consultant and spokesman, said that in this economy the best way to spark new construction is to offer a variety of options for buyers.
One option would require a variance granting 1,116 square feet instead of the village minimum of 1,200. Otherwise, the project’s cut stone ranch villas and brick townhomes don’t require variances.
Building Administrator Warren Rendleman said slab construction has improved over the years, such as vapor barriers.
“If it’s not a quality issue, then who are we to say they have to have (basements),” said Mayor Tim Baldermann. “Do we kill this project just for personal preference?”
Zwemke said denying the option for buyers to choose slab construction may be the project’s death knell.
Rick Rott spoke for the existing owners in Heather Glen. They opposed slab construction, fearing garages will be used for storage, pushing cars onto the streets.
The board is expected to vote Monday.