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Rey's All Right


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I appreciate the exposure the Reader and Ben Joravsky have given to the Logan Square community [The Works, April 7]. For those readers who are interested in this fascinating neighborhood, I would like to flesh out ideas from his article titled "Extreme Makeover."

The Logan Square community has a wealth of ethnic, economic, and political diversity, which is a major attraction for my wife and me and for many of our friends and neighbors in the 35th Ward. This diversity extends to the citizens' views on zoning and new construction. There are those who do not want another condominium constructed in the ward and those who believe that practically all new construction is good.

Because of such diversity in perspective and opinion, any decision made by Alderman Colon regarding new construction will invariably lead some to celebrate and others to plot an end to his term in office. One of the first acts by Alderman Colon upon his election was to form a zoning advisory committee to review, among other things, all requests for up-zoning in the ward. The 35th Ward Zoning Advisory Committee (ZAC) includes representatives of community groups and block clubs that are active in the ward and technical experts, including city planners, architects, real estate agents, and builders.

Since the inception of the ZAC, a total of 96 proposals have come to the committee. Of these 96 proposals, 15 were outside the scope of the ZAC; 11 are pending; 9 went to a public meeting, after which the alderman followed the consensus of the meeting; the alderman followed the ZAC's recommendation 41 times; 14 proposals were withdrawn after the applicant received the ZAC's input; and the result of 1 application is unknown. Based on these figures, Alderman Colon went against the recommendation of the ZAC or the community 5.2 percent of the time. The readers of this response can form their own opinions on whether Alderman Colon's "perspective is to facilitate gentrification of the neighborhood." I, for one, do not believe the facts support such a claim.

Alderman Colon and I are of the same mind regarding building in the ward: We are stewards of the land, and any new structures built should be structures that will endure and enhance the wonderful architecture that we have been fortunate to inherit from those who have come before us. In applying this principle, we are sensitive to striking a balance between the rights of property owners and the desires of the community.

In contrast, Vilma Colom and her community group see zoning as a way to reward or to punish landowners, as evidenced in the group's postings on the Logan Square Listserv. If that is reform, then I prefer the status quo.

Michael Jaskula

Chairman, 35th Ward Zoning Advisory Committee

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