By Bob Balgemann

The devastating flood of June 2008 resulted in many pieces of property along and near Shore Drive, most of them with houses, being destroyed or severely damaged. In the wake of that calamity, the village began a voluntary buyout program that has resulted in it acquiring more than 100 pieces of property for a public open space program.

Now another lot in the Shore Drive area, which is in the floodway and prone to routine flooding, is being purchased. The current owner of the 22 Wilshire Blvd. property bought it in June 2018. After the March 2019 flood, he contacted the village about the buyout program, to see if there would be an opportunity for him to sell the land to the village.

Village Administrator James Richter II and Finance and Human Resources Manager Michelle Johannsen provided the following details for members of the administration and finance committee (A&F) at their Dec. 6 meeting.

The current owner of 22 Wilshire Blvd. lives in California, and the tenant residing there was a carryover from sale of the property by the prior owner.

“We’ve been told the lease has expired and rent has not been paid for well over two years,” the village officials said. “The village has received several complaints from neighbors for tall grass and items in the yard; there have been claims of possible interior sanitation issues. However, the health department has been unable to gain access and has requested assistance from the village. Further, the property is substantially damaged, which means it must be demolished or elevated, and no permits may be issued by the village.

“We do not have an appraisal completed on the property, since the home was recently purchased in 2018 for $50,000. That was our original offer to the property owner, but since he needs to relocate the tenant, we negotiated the purchase price to be $55,000, which based on the current assessed value of the property at $68K, the value is below current market value.

“Therefore, since the owner approached the village to voluntarily sell, the price is below market value, the property has become a code enforcement challenge, and the property is located in the floodplain near other properties already owned by the village. We are recommending the village purchase the property and demolish the structure.”

They continued that the village has $50,000 already set aside in the flood fund, so the additional funds needed to close and demolish the structure will be covered by the capital improvements program (CIP) fund. The contract with the owner states the tenant must be relocated by Dec. 31, 2021. If that occurs, closing on the property will be by Jan. 31, 2022, or at another mutually agreed upon date. No closing will be held until the tenant has been relocated.

The committee in a unanimous voice vote recommended approval of buying the property at 22 Wilshire Blvd. That recommendation moved on to the village board that same night, where it was unanimously approved as part of the consent agenda. Final approval came during the Dec. 20 board meeting, also as part of the consent agenda.

Other matters

In addition, the board on Dec. 20 waived the two-week layover rule and approved a text amendment rezoning five acres of village-owned property at 7633 N. Perryville Road from commercial general (CG) to R-4, multi-family, to Northpointe Holding LLC, which proposes to build a 48-unit senior housing development on the land.

Three motions were required for that to happen. The first motion approved the text amendment on first reading. The second motion waived the rules that all first readings of approval be held over to the next board meeting, when second and final reading is conducted. All three votes were unanimous, with trustees Erick Beck and Jake Schmidt absent.

In other matters the board:

* Heard Mayor Steve Johnson report on attending the toy distribution held Dec. 11 at North Park Church of Christ, 7620 Elm Ave. Helping Hands Food Pantry, located in a separate building behind the church, served 80 families and 200-250 children that day, he said. He thanked Trustee Joe Seipts and village Planning and Zoning Manager Carrie Houston for their help with that annual effort, co-sponsored by the church, food pantry and the village.

* Also was told by Mayor Johnson that he recently met with Cub Scout Troop 408 to talk with them about the community, and how they could help make the village a better place to live. The study group included fourth and fifth-graders, he said, and they learned the importance of community leadership and the responsibility to help others in the community.

* Heard Johnson thank Voices of Harlem and all the Choraliers for the winter concert they presented to the community on Dec. 8, in the Harlem High School Auditorium.

* Wished Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all those in attendance at the last board meeting of 2021, or viewing in their homes. Those wishes also were extended by Administrator Richter, Finance and Human Resources Manager Johannsen, Planning and Zoning Manager Houston, Village Attorney Tom Green, Public Works Superintendent Chad Hunter, Village Engineer Chris Dopkins and Deputy Chief Anthony Miceli.

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