Naperville’s City Council is taking another look at the city’s process of landmarking buildings. At the June 21st meeting, the group discussed some pitfalls with the current procedure, notably the difficulty, delay and added cost it can bring to an owner without their consent.
The issue sprang from a recent meeting where the council denied a request from the Naperville Preservation Inc. to landmark the Kroehler YMCA. This raised the question within the council of what balance there was between historic preservation and rights of the owner of a building.
During the meeting, Naperville Preservation Inc representative Jane Burke brought up different examples of buildings she believed should be re-examined as historical landmarks within Naperville.
“If you look at the ordinance today, we have a whole lot more of our built environment available for landmarking,” said Burke. “This is another reason why we should be doing this. The East Highlands are more than 70-years-old, and Crest Creek (County Club) is more than 60-years-old.”
The CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce Kaylin Risvold also spoke and asked that the council decide to “Require consent of the property owner before a landmark designation process is undertaken.”
“This does not mean we are looking to tear down buildings,” said Risvold. “This is about demonstrating the greater respect for private property rights while still advancing the interest in protecting property that is still of that landmark status and other protective statuses.”
Once the members of the council began the debate, Councilman Ian Holzhauer was the first to chime in on what he believed would be a solution. Holzhauer stated there should be a streamlined process to Landmarking certain buildings and homes, and brought a preliminary proposal to a vote on the council.
“One is for us to remove the ability for individual citizens to initiate a landmarking petition, but retain the ability to do so at City Council with a simple majority vote,” said Holzhauer. “And two would be for City staff to set up a point of access and make a robust program for voluntary landmarking that residents can undergo if interested.”
After some deliberation, the council voted 5-4 in favor of Holzhauer’s motion.
Councilman Paul Hinterlong was hopeful that both sides could come to an agreement on the final details of the new landmarking proposal in the future. “We have great minds on both sides of this room,” said Hinterlong. “I think working together we can come up with something that will benefit Naperville dramatically and everyone will be proud of it.”
Naperville News 17’s Will Payne reports.