Letter: Not well served by current ordinance

keyboard, letter to the editor

To the Editor:

Kendall County voters are not well served by the current ordinance regarding “landmark” buildings.

A super majority of commissioners may so designate a property over the objections of the owner. This allows the County Preservation Committee to mandate those repairs and restorations they deem appropriate to meet requirements set out in a multi-page code – at homeowner expense.

Chicago Tribune articles indicate that such properties in Chicago sell for about half of their former value. The purchaser of any property which might interest “conservation” activists must discount this risk, lowering his offer. The owner is paying assessed taxes despite such risks; what remodeling might have to be reversed? In short, such owners have less incentive to keep up their property than is desirable.

The bottom line for County residents is lower property values for older homes. In the case of this subscriber, the combination of 2.5% property tax and $3,500/year fire insurance (because Illinois policies require rebuilding at $200,000 or so, worth maybe $125,000 if landmarked) costs $8,500/year. Less affluent owners drop fire insurance and minimize maintenance.

The result of this “takings” ordinance is the destruction of historic edifices, not their preservation, and less property tax revenue to the county.

Alphonse I. Johnson