Neighborhood Meeting Leads to Possible Dec. 3 Follow-up

Yielbonzie Charles Johnson and Park Forest Police Chief Cliff Butz
Reverend Yielbonzie C. Johnson of the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Park Forest and Police Chief Cliff Butz chat before the neighborhood meeting Thursday. (ENEWSPF)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The Village Board and staff met with residents of the Arbor Trails neighborhood tonight at the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Park Forest. Although there were only about 30 in attendance, the discussion was spirited and enlightening.

Mayor John Ostenburg felt there were so many issues regarding this neighborhood, particularly with those who are part of the homeowners association, that he invited the board members of the homeowners association and residents to a follow-up meeting with the Village Board at the December 3, 2011, Saturday Rules Meeting.

The first Saturday of the month is set aside for an open-agenda rules meeting where residents can attend and ask questions on any issue, off-camera, so to speak.

At the meeting Thursday, residents asked about taxes, jurisdiction of Sauk Trail and Western Avenue (one man said he was stranded twice in two previous winters for hours on Sauk Trail, a street for which Cook County is responsible), and other jurisdictional issues.

In particular, residents in this area of Park Forest expressed concerns that, even though they pay taxes to Park Forest, the Village does not plow or otherwise maintain their roads.

This lead to much discussion about the genesis of this neighborhood, mostly pertaining to all of those who are part of the homeowners association.

In the 1980s, the developer who built the town homes established certain covenants. Those covenants were approved by the Village Board in the 80s as ordinances, and the law was set.

The developers of the original neighborhood then left, with their profits, and subsequent residents of the development learned of these covenants when — or after (if they did not have good attorneys when they purchased their homes) — of these covenants and other agreements. In addition, streets in this development were not built according to Village code. They are not wide enough to accommodate snow plows or street sweeping vehicles, for example.

Among the agreements: the homeowners association is responsible for plowing and salting the streets in the winter, and replacing street lights when they burn out.

Mayor Ostenburg invited the residents to attend the December 3 Saturday Rules Meeting with their homeowners association board members to explore avenues for the homeowners association to change certain covenants.

The neighborhood: