By: Diane Benjamin
I FOIA’d the bills paid by the Land Use Committee since nothing was included in the meeting documentation. See what was paid here: FOIA_land_use_bills_-_redacted
The only thing redacted was the chairman’s signature, the County got the information to me the same day I filed it. I hope in the future it’s just included with meeting docs on the website. The Pantagraph got a huge chunk for classified ads. Between the County and advertising entertainment for Bloomington and Normal, of course they will never report anything but what they are told.
Note: Members of the Zoning Board of Appeals are appointed, not elected. They are the ones approving wind and solar farms all over the county.
Here’s why I was at this meeting. A landowner east of town is upset that he was told for years by Philip Dick, secretary of the Zoning Board of Appeals, that no more houses could ever be built on around 200 acres known as the Cowden property. Cowden is deceased and I think 5 other families own parts of the acreage. Phillip Dick repeatedly told the owners only 1 house was allowed for every 40 acres. Some exceptions for family members have been made at great expense (mostly surveys and driveways) to the family that contacted me. Father and son now both have houses on the property.
One of the property owners held 99 acres plus a house. He wanted to build another house for a family member, Phil Dick told him NO. The guy has since sold the property and moved to Wisconsin. The new buyers are now building a large house.
People don’t move to the country to have neighbors right on top of them. They shoot on their property. They burn on their property. Freedom exists in the country that does not exist in town.
So how did the new owners get permission to build? They didn’t. The law in Illinois is if you own more than 40 acres you can do anything with it you want including building without permits. The only permit they will need is access to a Township road, another problem since where they want to put it will be hazardous to themselves and other traffic, including school buses. That issue is still being discussed.
The guy that sold evidently didn’t know he didn’t need Phil Dick’s approval to build and Phil Dick didn’t tell him.
The saga gets worse though. The new owner may want to build additional houses on the acres left – also over 40. The family I talked to thinks the place they are looking to build is in their front yard, they don’t own all the property directly between them and the street. They haven’t lived in the country for many decades to end up living in a subdivision without ever moving. The new owner paid cash for the property, so building without loans and title work may not be a problem.
Currently there is nothing in the law to stop this. At some point the County could accuse them of creating an unauthorized subdivision, but by then 2 or 3 houses could be built. The family I talked to could lose the right to use their property the way they have for many decades.
The family is also aware of another area farmer attempting to sell “lots”. If he is selling 40 acre tracts there is nothing to stop him either.
The 40 acre rule is State law. It voids all County ordinances. Nobody wants to deny a farmer giving property to a relative who works the farm with him. Coming up with a legal way to prevent the country turning into a big subdivision won’t be easy without infringing on the rights of family farms.
We couldn’t think of a fix for this problem. The Zoning Board of Appeals needs to work on it.