Friday, May 13, 2016

Laurel Avenue Development

Do you ask a paint salesman whether you should paint your house every year ? Obviously, if you have a Mayor who is a real estate developer then you end up with a Laurel Avenue Development. The MBAs on the City Council did not help the Lake Forest residents, unless you like congestion and paying for other people's services. The doctor on the City Council was able to understand the mathematics and he voted No.

If you believe in the Easter Bunny then you believe in Tax Incremental Funding. Tax dollars are sent to the county government and magically they are stamped TIF dollars and placed in a TIF Fund. The Lake Forest City Council must believe that TIF dollars are free money. Tax dollars are for services. City of Chicago has proven that TIF Funding of projects are a road to ruin. The City of Lake Forest MUST provide services for 23 years, to 164 units in the Laurel Avenue development. So to use their tax dollars to fund a TIF, for the Laurel Avenue Development Project is disingenuous and means that the other Lake Forest residents will be funding those future services at the Laurel Avenue Development.

City of Lake Forest paid about 8 million dollars, for 3 acres of the Laurel Avenue land, about 10 years ago. If you assume that the other 7 acres had a value of about 7 million then a reasonable person might put a value of about 15 million dollars on the land. On April 4, 2016, the Lake Forest City Council sold the land for about 6 million dollars. Residents lost 9 million on the land deal.

On April 4, 2016, the Lake Forest City Council, waived other fees that normally a developer would pay. If you read the 22 page document on "Development Related Fee Schedule", then you would see that Focus Development should have paid over 10 million dollars in impact fees and construction fees. (Impact fees of 2.7 million for Parks and Beach, 3.5 million for schools, 1 million for Police, Fire, and the Water Plant, 1.5 million for the Sanitary District, and 1.4 million for construction permit fees, totaling 10.1 million dollars.) Residents lost another 10 million on this part of the deal.

So indirectly, all the residents of Lake Forest are subsidizing this project. 19 million dollars divided by 7 thousand homes means that each home owner is funding this project by over 2700 dollars. Instead of a park at Laurel Avenue, the City Council has added congestion to the town, and left us with a bill for the next 23 years of funding services for the Laurel Avenue residents, because the Laurel Avenue resident tax dollars were diverted to the TIF Fund.

The Lake Forest residents did approve of the Route 60 Park expenditure, about ten years ago, accessible by a sidewalk from Conway Farms, even though most people east of Green Bay Road probably will never use that park, so there was PRECEDENTS to proceed with a Park at Laurel Avenue.

People live in Lake Forest for the QUALITY of life and I am sure that they would have continued to enjoyed the 104 full grown evergreen trees, on the Franklin Avenue berm. Today is a sad day for tree lovers in Lake Forest.

Paul Hamann, PE
57 year resident

Letter to the Editor:
Laurel Avenue development is costing Lake Foresters
3:40 pm PDT May 9, 2016
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