By Bob Uphues
Riverside resident William O'Connor has withdrawn an application asking the village to allow a consolidation and re-subdivision of the property at 247 Shenstone Road, but he indicated in an interview late last week the village has not heard the end of the matter.
In December 2016, the Riverside Preservation Commission voted 4 to 3 to deny a certificate of appropriateness for the re-subdivision, emphasizing that doing so would harm the village's national landmark status.
In ruling the way it did, the majority of Preservation Commission members were guided by the zoning code's stated preference for protecting the large residential lots remaining in Riverside.
O'Connor wanted to re-subdivide the land, which consists of four separate lots at the corner of Shenstone and North Cowley roads and contains a local landmark home. O'Connor wished to sell the three northernmost lots along with the historic home.
He planned to build a new, smaller home on the remaining lot, which he argued was large enough to satisfy zoning requirements. He also argued that consolidating the other three lots into one lot would help protect the large landmark home, which was intended to stand upon a large, open lot.
But, last week O'Connor confirmed that he's sold the home and all four lots to a new owner after the village ruled that he had to sell the entire property or the village would block the sale.
Sonya Abt, the village's community development director, told the Landmark in a phone interview last week that the Riverside Zoning Code states the sale property cannot create a non-conformity.
Abt argued before the Preservation Commission in December that removing the southernmost parcel, which O'Connor identified for his new home, from the original property would make the existing historic home non-conforming.
Although O'Connor wanted to maintain ownership of the southernmost lot, he said he ended up selling it, because otherwise "we were going to lose the buyer."
However, O'Connor said he doesn't agree with the village's position, stating that the village's ruling "forced the buyers to take on property they didn't want, and now they're forced to pay the taxes on it in perpetuity."
The tax bill for 247 Shenstone Road is no little matter. In 2015, the tax bill for the entire property amounted to a little less than $30,000. Riverside Township properties are scheduled for reassessment in 2017, and assessments are expected to rise.
O'Connor said he wasn't sure what the future held with respect to another attempt to allow the property to be re-subdivided. Right now, that plan is off the table. Meanwhile, the sale of the property "has lots of implications that we're trying to figure out."
"We don't consider it a closed matter," O'Connor added.
The sale price for the property has not been recorded yet by the Cook County Recorder of Deeds.
O'Connor and his wife, Jane McCahill, bought the seven-bedroom home at 247 Shenstone Road, minus the southernmost lot, in 1992 for $535,000. The sale of the southernmost lot was a separate, private deal with the prior owner. The house was designed by architect Howard Van Doren Shaw and was named a Riverside landmark in 1993.