Romeoville backs plan to rescue foreclosed homes
By Brock A. Stein Correspondent February 8, 2013 8:04AM
Updated: March 14, 2013 6:13AM
Romeoville joined neighboring communities Plainfield and Bolingbrook in supporting the Community Service Council of Northern Will County’s plan to purchase and rehab foreclosed properties.
Council Director Robert Kalnicky said the organization would be applying for grant money that would allow the organization to purchase the homes through the National Foreclosure Settlement Awards Housing Counseling and Community Revitalization Program. Home purchased under the plan would be rehabbed and then sold to residents at cost.
Along with the plan to move families into unoccupied homes, Kalnicky said the proposal would reduce the number of foreclosed homes that are for sale.
In addition, residents applying to buy one of the homes would receive counseling to give them the skills needed to be successful once they move in.
Trustee Linda Palmiter was concerned about the impact on property values in the neighborhoods where the low-cost homes would be sold, a fear that Kalnicky said would have little impact on the existing homes.
“Impact on property values will be negligible,” said Kalnicky who noted that long-term vacancies would have greater negative impact on values.
Trustee Dave Richards appreciated the opportunity the program would give to first time home owners.
“People who want to live in Romeoville will have a chance to,” said Richards.
Kalnicky noted that the program will use local contractors for the rehab work whenever possible.
Funding for the program will come from a $25 billion settlement from 2012 with five of the largest banks that were found liable for practices that lead to the mortgage crisis in 2008. Homeowners in Illinois are expected to receive around $1 billion in mortgage relief and $100 million for homeowner grants.
In other business, village staff removed a proposed amendment to the village code of ordinances that would have tightened rules for residents wishing to make public comments during village board meetings.
Those wanting to speak would be required to sign up prior to the meeting and indicate the topics they wish to address. In addition, speakers would be limited to three minutes.
That restriction struck resident Richard Strom as bordering on “censorship” he said. He was glad the proposed ordinance was removed from consideration calling it a “wise choice.”
“You’re the only mayor in the history of this town that’s ever imposed three minutes on any individual coming to this podium,” he told Mayor John Noak.
Noak defended the changes, saying the rules for the village were far less restrictive than in other municipalities.
Noak said that the removed ordinance would be reviewed and would be acted on at some point though he encouraged members of the public to speak to elected officials in any public forums available.
“We are always happy to hear from residents,” said Noak.