Paul Kucera, a longtime member of the Riverside Planning and Zoning Commission and its most recent chairman, asked President Ben Sells in May not to be appointed to another term.

On July 6, the Riverside Village Board voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Jill Mateo, who is married to Sells, as the commission’s new chairwoman. 

Mateo, who has been a member of the commission since January 2014, will serve as chair of the advisory commission for the next year.

Sells said he had approached Theresa Pelletier, who also sits on the commission, about chairing the advisory panel. In the end, he said, he chose the best person for the job.

 “I feel my job is to pick the best person for the job, and objectively, despite the fact she’s married to me, she’s the most qualified person,” Sells said.

In an email to Sells, Kucera called serving on the Planning and Zoning Commission “one of the most rewarding joys of my life as a Riverside resident.”

Kucera was first appointed to the Riverside Preservation Commission in 2003 before being appointed to the Plan Commission, which merged with the Zoning Board of Appeals in 2013.

In his email to Sells, Kucera asked not to be renamed to the Planning and Zoning Commission when his term expired at the end of June.

“Perhaps there will be another opportunity for me to again serve when the timing is right, and that would be something I would enjoy considering,” Kucera wrote.

Mateo and Sells met due to their interest and involvement in Riverside government and married in September 2014. A professor at the University of Chicago, Mateo is a biologist who studies small animals.

“I’ve been going to village board meetings for eight years and developed an interest in the Plan Commission,” she said. “I like taking the deep dives into the code.”

Mateo has served as chairwoman pro-tem of the Planning and Zoning Commission on a handful of occasions when Kucera has been absent, most recently in May.

In making the appointment, Sells stated Mateo would be serving as chair for one year, though the village’s code calls for the Planning and Zoning Commission chair to serve for a five-year term.

On July 6, Sells said the village board would look to amend that language to bring it into line with the chairs of other village advisory commissions.

With Kucera’s departure from the commission, there is an opening for a new commissioner. 

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