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Naplate stands firm on no divided residential lots

Board meeting filled with residents in agreement

Volunteers help clean up a Naplate resident’s fallen trees after the February 2017 tornado. The village enlisted in a program to replace destroyed trees on public property. The village believe
Volunteers help clean up a Naplate resident’s fallen trees after the February 2017 tornado. The village enlisted in a program to replace destroyed trees on public property. The village believe

An ordinance prohibiting divided or subdivided residential lots in Naplate was approved by a 4-0 Village Board vote.

Monday, the Village Hall was crowded with residents who expressed disapproval when brothers Ben and Elijah Mackenzie first discussed their concern regarding one of the proposed changes to the village's building code at the April 2 board meeting.

This week, Elijah asked the board to reconsider Section 5 of Ordinance 2018-396 that states: "Ownership of individual lots shall not be divided or subdivided to sell off townhome or duplex lots to multiple owners."

Because there are vacant lots that adjoin existing residential lots within the village, the board believed it necessary to regulate the density and type of buildings so new home construction would "harmonize with all of the existing developed areas in the village."

Residents and board members said they believed the ordinance amendments would keep Naplate a town of homeowners whom they said have a common stake in the community.

Similar to the April 2 meeting, residents objected to the McKenzie proposal for a three-unit townhome/triplex on one lot. Elijah stood before the board and the crowd to explain his position as he held up a large photograph/drawing rendition of the three-unit building.

Asked what would happen if the roof of his proposed triplex was ever damaged or needed to be replaced, Elijiah said there would be different roof lines, they would not be connected so it wouldn't be a problem to replace/repair them.

One resident asked him why he couldn't buy three lots and put one on each lot.

"I love these designs," Elijah replied. "I've put a lot of money into this project and I've worked on it for two years. I think my proposal would be an enhancement to the neighborhood and I really hope you reconsider that amendment regarding building density."

Neither residents nor board members were moved to do any reconsidering but many said his unit rendition was beautiful.

"I can appreciate your thoughts and visions but I really can't get on board with this in a residential neighborhood," said Trustee Lloyd Ludwig. "I'm afraid we're going to make lot sizes too small and I believe we really need to keep as much green space in our neighborhoods as we possibly can."

Village Clerk Gerry Kammerer raised concerns about ownership of the units.

"Our lots are 50-by-120 feet," Kammerer said. "I don't see how one lot can be split three ways. And if all three units were rented, someone else would be the owner and there could be concerns about unit damage or neglect. I'm definitely not in favor of allowing this request. It is a beautiful concept but I can't just see this in any Naplate neighborhood."

Other amendments to the building code, titled Building Density Requirements, include:

Each platted lot can only be improved with one primary, free-standing building not exceeding 40 percent of the lot's square footage or to exceed 35 feet in height.

New construction has to be at least 5 feet from back and side yard boundaries and 15 feet from the front boundary. (Only corner lots require 15 feet frontage setbacks and 10 feet footage on the side street.)

Limit residential buildings to no more than three units in a townhouse or apartment layout.

Adjoining lots less than common ownership can be combined for building purposes to allow a building to be constructed across the interior lot line but cannot later be sold separately.

2017-18 auditor approved
The board approved its current auditors, Arch Hopkins CPA, Granville, for the fiscal year at a cost of $4,750, the same cost as last year.

"The reason we would like to keep Arch Hopkins is that very few CPAs do municipal audits anymore," Kammerer said.

Ludwig agreed, saying "it sounds like a lot of money, but they are reasonably priced for anyone in this area."

Village withdraws from tree program
Following the Feb. 28, 2017, tornado, Naplate and Ottawa, in partnership with Trees Forever, participated in the program that assessed storm-damaged trees on public property.

Private property trees were only assessed if they posed a threat to residents or property. Trees Forever provided grant funding to help replant destroyed trees.

The program worked so well for the village, the board passed a resolution to withdraw from the program in conjunction with Trees Forever and the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. The 1,700-acre living nature museum helps communities throughout the world with scientific studies and advocates trees through conservation.

"We're not a large community," Ludwig said. "We received 42 trees last June, and that really helped us out. We have decided that we have enough trees and with a lot of other projects going on, we feel that we should withdraw from the program."

Ottawa payment
The Village Board will pay the Ottawa Recreation Department $1,500 for Naplate residents to participate in many of the adult and children programs the department offers. Ludwig said last year, Ottawa deferred the yearly expense of $1,500 for Naplate because of the February tornado.

Last year, six to eight children participated in Ottawa's park programs; 17 attended Tuesday and Thursday craft classes; six registered for special events; seven participated in Friday swimming; and several adults participated in softball and basketball programs. Forty-five residents took part in the camps and clinics without fees.

"We appreciated what the rec department did for our residents last year," Ludwig said. "We approve this payment every year because it offers so many activities and it's good for all of our children and adults."

The board also approved: a payment of $8,015 to the city of Ottawa for March sewer usage fees and a $14,037.74 payment to the Illinois Municipal League for the second village insurance payment.

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