Spot Check: The Downtown Master Plan - What Kind of a Big Deal is This?

Oh, way more than street signs, bike racks, and parklets. 

One Winnetka - now The WINN - is just the beginning. Winnetka has several more parcels ripe for development. Two - one in Hubbard Woods and another in West Elm - are “in flight” even as we speak.  And then there's that Post Office site.

If the Village Council gets the DMP right, it will be able to manage expectations, save money, increase revenues and make good on its promise to balance “vibrancy” with “Village ambiance.”  [:30] 

If it gets it wrong, it will lock the Village in a divisive game of “where’s mine” for decades to come.

It’s that kind of a Big Deal.

And the Trustees know it. That Study Session on January 10th? That was them hitting full stop/hard return. An Ordinance on the proposed 5-person Implementation Task Force, and a $450K Early Action Plan was headed straight for the January 17th Agenda Packet. Whereases, motion, second, vote, and adjourn. A good day for street signs, bike racks, and parklets.

Low-Hanging Fruit was, Well…Too Low.

 So the Trustees stuck a pin in it and went back to the table. [1:30:30]

  • Trustee Lanphier: Wants the Implementation Task Force plus two. Thinks involving the Advisory Boards is a good idea since they know our zoning laws and why the Village looks like it does in the first place. 
  • Trustee Rintz: Cautions that the original DMP was big picture, declares it's drill-down time. Thinks Streetscape - the plan and the details - could jump-start the DMP, saving time and money if there's any "there" there.
  • Trustee Myers: Me-too's the Streetscape revisit, wishes he'd known more about it sooner. Wants to Goldilocks the size of the Task Force, and thinks it can help the Council move forward faster. All it needs is the right direction.
  • Trustee Ziv: Says it's not that complicated, has had enough meetings. Thinks Teska can help the Task Force, and doesn't see that much work left.
  • Trustee Cripe: Thinks Job #1 is to validate the Plan and prioritize. Wants more info on the C-1 and C-2 Retail Overlay Districtswhat kinds of businesses are allowed there right now, and the permitting process. Let's start with reviewing special use permits.

Cue Revised Scope of Work.

And kind of in this order...

  • Broaden the task force to add “a few” at-large members. Job 1: Review the "Downtown Physical Infrastructure Plan,” AKA Streetscape. TBD 3-4 months.
  • Multi-task. Schedule Council Study Sessions on zoning (code for Retail Overlay Districts including a list of permitted and special uses) and on streamlining the Planned Development Process.
  • Explore financing options. Big Deals need Big Bucks. On the table, taxes to TIFs and everything in between.
  • Provide Advisory Board Commissioner training. Start from scratch – how to hold meetings, parliamentary procedures, etc. - or train them to implement the Plan? TBD. Way down the list, but on everybody's mind.

In the meantime, Channel the Trustees.

Get smart. Check out - 

  • Our recent zoning changes.
  • Winnetka's Retail Overlay Districts and whyNorthbrook’s thinkin’ it wants more retail overlay. 
  • Special uses, exceptions. It's been a long time since The Plan Commission saw a special use request it didn't like, A reason to reduce Village oversight, or temporary economic expediency? Rather than reduce the number and type of uses, Wilmette, maintains control by increasing the number of commercial zones to 9, so that the rght business is in the right place. 
  • TIFs and other ways communities pay for stuff like this. Warning: they’re controversial. But with Winnetka’s zero-based budgeting and balanced budget on the books, the VC will check ‘em out.
  • The 2009 Streetscape Plan. Relevant? Scalable? 
  • Jurisdictional TransfersWilmette did it. So did Kenilworth. And both got the RTA to help fund it. Our ability to control our share of Green Bay and Sheridan roads makes the job of creating a consistent downtown just that much easier. The VC wants to discuss.
  • Our neighbors. Glencoe is patting itself on the back for its recent “tune-up,” and Wilmette's residents and businesses are lovin' the results of its newly-minted DMP.
  • Pay attention to communities you like and why they work for you. Share with your Trustees.

Stay smart.

Connect. Contact the Trustee of your choice with smart questions and insights. They'll thank you, trust us.