Open Communities director says Commission did not allow for public comment during meeting on ‘One Winnetka’ development.
By Tim Moran
The Winnetka Plan Commission has been accused of violating the state’s Open Meetings Act when it allegedly did not allow for public comment during its September 30 meeting, the only time a draft resolution recommending approval of the controversial One Winnetka development would be discussed by the commission.
Gail Schechter, executive director of Winnetka-based Open Communities – a group promoting economic and social justice – filed the complaint with the Illinois Office of the Attorney General, which has drafted a letter to the Plan Commission indicating “further action is warranted.”
According to Schechter, the meeting room was packed on September 30 when the Commission chair announced there would be no public comment. Schechter claims that violated the following part of the Open Meetings Act:
“(g) Any person shall be permitted an opportunity to address public officials under the rules established and recorded by the public body. 5 ILCS 120/2.06(g), added by Public Act 96-1473.”
During the September 30 meeting, the draft resolution recommending approval of the ‘One Winnetka’ development downtown had its only public discussion by the Commission. Current plans for ‘One Winnetka’ include constructing a 5-story mixed-use building (which would be the tallest in Winnetka) at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Elm Street.
The Attorney General’s office also requested documentation from Commission chair Tina Dalman to respond to Schechter’s allegation.
“No matter where you stand on the proposed development (and of course, Open Communities has been outspoken about residential portion being offered at a variety of price points, and suggesting that the tenor of the entire development be one of care and concern for its surroundings and the public commons and not exclusive of it), the point is that the people should have input,” Schechter wrote in an email to several Winnetka residents last week. “This is certainly true in this situation of a development in a prominent part of town that has attracted standing-room-only crowds.”
‘One Winnetka’ still needs to be considered by both the Design Review Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals.