Brookfield officials need to adhere to zoning rules
I would like to take this opportunity to elaborate on the zoning issues facing Brookfield in recent years, since newspaper reports only give the reader a part of the story. I have had a quote or two in recent articles about the proposed overdevelopment of the Lobster House property, but I was not quoted when I gave testimony against other proposed overdevelopments, nor was I given any press time when I gave testimony in favor of requests where true hardship was evident.
Requests for variations should be seen as an uphill battle for any petitioner unless this petitioner can prove a true hardship due to circumstances beyond their control, i.e., a house built 70 years ago that doesn't meet the current side yard setback or the property lies partially in the floodplain.
This is because the petitioner is actually requesting that the codes and ordinances of the Village of Brookfield are to be amended to allow a less stringent code or ordinance to apply. However, a developer can control what they propose and pretty pictures and flashy presentations do not constitute true hardship, just self-imposed hardships. There is a huge difference.
By speaking out against overdevelopment and for strict compliance with the Codes and Ordinances of the Village of Brookfield, it is my hope to allow all citizens of Brookfield the ability to receive open, fair and impartial hearings that produce fair and honest votes that comply with Illinois Supreme Court decisions and statutory requirements, respectively, when an issue comes before the Village Board, the Plan Commission and/or the Zoning Board of Appeals.
By doing this, we protect the rights of every citizen of Brookfield. Variations will and should be granted for true hardships, not self-imposed hardships. This will ensure development that is in character with the surrounding neighborhood instead of looking totally out of place.
Board and commission members shouldn't be swayed by facetious and capricious exhibits highlighted with the blinking neon of an ambitious PowerPoint presentation, but, instead, reserve a favorable vote based solely on substantive facts and evidence.
Just as a jury is instructed to follow certain rules and guidelines when deliberating, so too should these board and commission members be instructed to follow the rules and guidelines required in their service to the community when considering a matter that affects dozens of lives for years to come.
Neighbors, tired of attending countless public and private meetings, shouldn't have to compromise with a developer to agree to a plan that overdevelops a property just because they are sick of worrying about their future and fighting with the village and developer after developer.
The neighbors' compromise is no doubt the result of their apparent lack of confidence in their appointed and elected officials in recent years to protect the rights of its citizens in these matters.
I just hope that the future brings development compliant with our codes and ordinances and keeps developers from exploiting a property by building a Brookfield that was envisioned by the Brookfield 2020 Master Plan.
A good start would be to set and adopt limits on variations. This would tell developers before they purchase a property that they will have to follow all our codes and ordinances if they want to build in Brookfield.
David A. Skurkis
Cutting D95 administrative expenses no joke
I may have hogged too much editorial space already, as judged by one of your readers, but her aggressive rebuttal ("First-rate schools don't come at cut-rate prices," ONE VIEW, June 1) to my earlier letter has me writing once again.
Your reader misses the point when she pleads that Superintendent Rudig's salary isn't much higher or lower than other grade school superintendents in Illinois. As a matter of public record, District 95 has been very kind to our current superintendent.
When he came on board for the 2000-01 school year, his salary was $101,070. For 2001-02 it jumped 28 percent to $129,780, then in 2002-03 it popped another 13 percent to $147,231. Last school year, his salary reached $153,913, up a princely 52 percent since his first day in town.
When you toss in life and health insurance, along with employer taxes and pension contributions, we're shelling out $200,000 a year. Compare that to the salary trend of our district's teachers. These figures are verifiable at the Illinois State Board of Education website, www.isbe.net.
I don't fault the superintendent for collecting every dime he can while managing a two-school district. It's a nice gig, and our current superintendent seems likeable enough. But a tiny, cash-strapped school community like District 95 can't afford the financial baggage of a superintendent's salary, benefits and administrative support costs.
The Illinois Board of Education says District 95 spent $366,354 on "superintendent" costs during the 2003-04 school year. That's roughly equivalent to seven teachers' salaries, or district-wide text books for three years, or a new school roof?"every year.
Granted, eliminating the superintendent's office won't save the day financially, but it's a strong start. So I call upon the school board to investigate consolidation options with a neighboring district. Short of full consolidation, I ask that the board investigate the feasibility of eliminating the superintendent's position and developing a plan to delegate the superintendent's official duties among the board, the principals at Brook Park and S.E. Gross, and other volunteers among the community.
I wholeheartedly agree that citizen involvement is critical to the success of our schools. I might add that productive involvement extends beyond clinging to administration positions for the sake of unity.
As parents and taxpayers living in District 95, we have tough financial choices to make. Cutting $366,354 in administrative expenses is no joke. It can be a key step toward finally balancing the budget and retiring the district's debt. To say we won't succeed without a full-time superintendent is regressive and wrong. I have absolute confidence in the district's talented teachers, administrators and support personnel who make our schools what they are. The superintendent's role, with all due respect, is a small and expendable part of the total story.Ralph McDarmont
Action on Brookfield pedestrian bridge was long delayed
This is in response to the letter from past Brookfield President Bill Russ who went on about the lack of action from our current board regarding a closed pedestrian bridge ("Why no action on Salt Creek bridge?" LETTERS, June 1).
Just to refresh your memory Mr. Russ, the pedestrian bridge was closed over a year ago under your administration, and you chose to do nothing. It remained a hazard to our commuters for over a year and, yet, oddly enough, you only voice public concern when our new administration has barely finished its first regular meeting.
The people of Brookfield have spoken loud and clear. A new president and board have been voted in, and, yes, the safety of our commuters is an important issue to them. I'm sure this issue will be addressed in an expedient and responsible manner.
But just a reminder, Mr. Russ. Our new board is also concerned about the health of our residents in finally setting in place a plan to hire a properly licensed health inspector for timely restaurant inspections that have not been done in nearly four years, and the hiring of a village manager that will give his full attention to Brookfield.
Even though the losing VIP Party painted a rosy financial picture in its campaign literature, our village budget is in need of serious and professional attention. Could it be that money you should have used for the bridge repair was used to try to balance the budget? Is it just a coincidence that our village audit was six months late and was only really available after the election?
In closing, if a Brookfield resident would like to review an agenda from recent village meetings they will see in black and white that numerous issues of great importance are being addressed. This is in stark comparison to the almost empty agendas offered by the ousted VIP administration leading up to the election.
So, Mr. Russ, let's please stop the negativity. In your letter you made a comment on a recent meeting that you didn't even attend. If you have some positive input, I'm sure the new administration would love to see you at the village meetings and would be more than happy to listen to your suggestions.