Don't throw away vision for TIF

Opinion: Letters to the editor

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I am a 30-year Brookfield homeowner/taxpayer who has been following events between the village and Compassion United Church/art gallery with concern. 

Having spent thousands on a TIF program, the village is willing to let major elements be thrown in the gutter in favor of the Sokols' vision for Eight Corners. This is apparent by the village board allowing the church a presence that required a special use permit. 

Linda Sokol owns several choice properties at Eight Corners that she is happy to do nothing with. She apparently feels that her ownership is enough leverage to prevent her toeing the line strung by the TIF. 

Both Sokols are on record as saying they want a big church and parking lot somewhere at Eight Corners. Given the village's lack of nerve regarding this matter it is more likely to happen than not. 

If it does, any grand vision for Eight Corners economic development go in the garbage can. No businesses want to be overwhelmed by a fair-haired son with a powerful mother. Perhaps Focus Yoga has seen the writing on the wall, therefore, their "for sale" sign.

I am grateful for any local business owners showing real courage regarding this matter. At least one of them understands what the Sokols want and is not afraid to say it is wrong for the village's best interests. 

Instead of thriving commercial business establishments that would pay taxes and benefit the town, our so-called leaders are allowing the encroachment of what very likely will be something of limited use and no economic or long-term benefit to the village.

James L. Miller

Brookfield

Reader Comments

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Jon Points  

Posted: August 20th, 2018 3:37 PM

The TIF is corporate welfare with no oversight. Brookfield can use the TIF pretty much however they want without any risk. To make matters worse, there is no enforcement mechanism in Illinois law that discourages or prevents a municipality from improperly spending TIF money. The TIF is essentially a tax on everyone in Brookfield. The TIF takes money from the schools, libraries, and other taxing bodies. The TIF vision is one of support for corporate welfare and higher taxes. The TIF should be removed and all the property tax revenue should be given to the schools, library, and other taxing bodies instead of businesses who depend on welfare.

Jon Points  

Posted: August 20th, 2018 3:35 PM

The TIF is corporate welfare with no oversight. Brookfield can use the TIF pretty much however they want without any risk (https://www.isba.org/committees/women/newsletter/2008/10/anoverviewoftifdistricts). To make matters worse, there is no enforcement mechanism in Illinois law that discourages or prevents a municipality from improperly spending TIF money (http://www.ilga.gov/). The TIF is essentially a tax on everyone in Brookfield. The TIF takes money from the schools, libraries, and other taxing bodies. The TIF vision is one of support for corporate welfare and higher taxes. The TIF should be removed and all the property tax revenue should be given to the schools, library, and other taxing bodies instead of businesses who depend on welfare.

Mark McCann  

Posted: August 17th, 2018 1:24 PM

And what about that large vacant/parking lot, Karl? As recently as December, your mother stated she wants to build a church and community center on that parcel, potentially removing a prime redevelopment site from the tax rolls and TIF funding. We can't just ignore you and your mother's previous comments about your intentions and "vision" for an 8 corners "church campus," especially since we know the disasterous consequences of that "vision" for the existing business owners, the bottom line of the TIF and the future of economic development in 8 corners. You and your mother had that site removed from the village's economic development website as you willfully allow it to sit vacant while stating that the land is "leverage." Many of us see that land as an eyesore that has been holding up economic development in 8 corners. That parcel would be perfect to anchor redevelopment with a mixed use project and attract new businesses to 8 corners, yet your family chooses to use it as "leverage" instead. With this newly created (and thriving) TIF district, it would be only a matter of time before a qualified developer saw the potential and made the ENTIRE village's vision for 8 corners a reality. Several new businesses have opened in 8 corners recently (despite the "derelict buildings") and those vacant stores would have sold eventually sold, yet they STILL sit empty almost 2 years after you bought them. None of this would even be an issue if you had decided to build a church in a residential area, as the land use and comprehensive plans state. Simply being a church does not give you the "right" to derail the village's comprehensive plan and hurt the TIF. Your plan to use this parcel as "leverage" or for a future church/community center (despite it being a commercial district) is, without a doubt, standing in the way of economic development in 8 corners. That hurts the entire community, hurts the businesses in 8 corners and places a larger pro

Karl Sokol  

Posted: August 16th, 2018 11:22 AM

Tomorrow (8/17), The Compassion Factory will be having another art opening. I encourage Mr. Miller to come check it out. Previous openings have brought hundreds of hungry and thirsty people to our town, many of whom no doubt went to Brookfield bars and restaurants to cap off the evening. Many of us believe that this is a stronger economic engine than a closed and derelict dry-cleaning building. This month, restoration will be complete on "The Harp's Building". For a decade, this building has been vacant with a 'stop work order' on it. Linda Francis purchased and rehabbed it, not because the 8 Corners is the strongest investment opportunity out there right now (it isn't), but because she was sick of looking at a vacant building in her neighborhood. A business has expressed interest in moving from another town to Brookfield because of this substantial investment. Many of us believe that this is more in the spirit of the Comprehensive Plan than a perpetually vacant, unattractive property. I believe that this systematic approach of developing the most derelict buildings in the area is much more proactive than sniping other businesses with petty gripes about signage. Others may disagree. If you have a different vision, there have been and currently are many opportunities to buy property on Broadway.

Mark McCann  

Posted: August 15th, 2018 12:09 PM

Well said. The citizens of Brookfield stated their vision for 8 corners during the recent updating of the village's comprehensive plan yet the village board chose to ignore that plan. That plan plan specifically states that 8 corners should remain a commercial district and any remaining institutional uses, such as churches, should be redeveloped as commercial uses. 8 corner should remain a commercial district, open to ALL residents of Brookfield. The Sokols have made their intentions of turning 8 corners into a "church campus" very clear and very public. That plan doesn't benefit everyone in Brookfield, that only benefits the members of that church. It doesn't help the existing businesses in 8 corners, many of whom made large investments in Brookfield, it hurts them as retail compliments other retail. As someone that has worked in commercial real estate and development for 15 years, I can say with absolute certainty that additional institutional uses and churches in 8 corners will not attract redevelopment and new businesses in 8 corners. I was in attendance at the board meetings regarding this church's SUP. I was VERY disturbed by the lack of debate and discussion amongst the village board members. They asked no tough questions and they didnt address ANY of the concerns raised by us. They didnt even address how they could prevent this church and their related entities from getting TIF funds - taxpayer money! The zoning board recommended against the SUP yet the village board unanimously approved it. Everything was clearly discussed behind the scenes, which goes against the spirit of democracy. I later learned that they were threatened with a lawsuit if they denied it. The Pep Party lacked the courage to stand up for their own comprehensive plan - a plan created with significant input from the community, even though they had a "compelling interest" in denying the permit due to the TIF district per the federal courts. The Pep Party lost my support as a result

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