Residential and commercial development within any community is always a double-edged sword. For the most part, new development increases the value of surrounding properties and draws both new residents and new businesses to the community. At the same time, the development typically increases the amount of tax money coming from that specific development area, whether it is in the form of property taxes or sales taxes (or both).
At the same time, new development can be a hassle during construction, blocking off streets, congesting traffic and raising noise levels at inconvenient times. After the development is complete, neighbors can be left with denser neighborhoods, bulkier structures and more traffic, both human and vehicular.
What seems inescapable, however, is that development is always going to happen in a town or that town is slowly going to choke on its own inertia. No municipality can be frozen in time. Commercial buildings and homes that were fine for 1928 cannot be expected to fill the needs of business and home owners 100 years later. Streets constructed in the infancy of the automobile can’t be expected to adequately serve a culture where mobility is preeminent.
In Brookfield, the issue of development is particularly prickly despite the fact that it’s no different from any other near west Chicago suburb. It’s landlocked, houses are close together and its streets are packed with cars. It’s also no different in that its business districts need updating and need strategies to compete with other western suburbs-like LaGrange-that have already transformed themselves from 19th century outpost to contemporary suburban village.
This is not to say that villages should simply kowtow to developers and hand them a golden shovel that will end up adversely affecting all parts of the village. Surely, some areas of the village are riper for redevelopment than others. Brookfield’s commercial districts, such as Ogden Avenue and Grand Boulevard, have to be attractive enough in terms of process to draw new development. There’s no doubt that such development will have an impact on those areas, and the village’s Plan Commission, Public Safety Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals and village board must address those issues which go hand in hand with new development-parking and traffic circulation chief among them.
Instead of simply vetoing projects that may impact street parking and traffic, those governmental bodies need to find solutions that address those issues. Perhaps acknowledging those issues rather than downplaying them would go a ways toward depoliticizing such new development. In Brookfield, that may be a naive assumption, but it’s worth a try.
However, outside of the commercial corridors of the village, Brookfield should be very careful in scrutinizing the need for developments that will unnecessarily affect residential areas never intended to accommodate them. In such cases, there may be a need to more strictly enforce the village’s zoning code. While people who have moved adjacent to commercial and transportation hubs presumably did so with the knowledge that those areas might be the focus of development in the future, those who bought homes in solidly, single-family residential neighborhoods also presumably did so purposefully. It seems unfair to force such drastic change on those neighborhoods, and development there should be done so in accordance with the character of the neighborhood.
In the story “Villages on watch for ash tree blight” (News, Aug. 2), the size of the emerald ash borer beetle was incorrectly stated. The adult emerald ash borer is approximately a half-inch long.
In the article “Township’s MacDonald wanted to see you smile” (News, July 19) there were two errors. MacDonald is not a member of the Kiwanis Club and is not a volunteer at the Loyola Center for Health an fitness. She is, however, a dues-paying member of the facility.
The Landmark regrets the errors.