Naperville planning board rejects affordable housing incentives

City has been criticized for not meeting state threshold

A photo illustration of the Vantage Naperville Apartments (ApartmentFinder, iStock)
A photo illustration of the Vantage Naperville Apartments (ApartmentFinder, iStock)

The planning and zoning commission of a Chicago suburb that’s drawn criticism for having too little affordable housing rejected an incentive program aimed at generating more of it.

The commission unanimously voted against a voluntary three-tied program that would have included density bonuses and relaxed requirements for yards, setbacks, floor area ratios and parking, the Naperville Sun reported. One key objection: the public wouldn’t have had the opportunity to weigh in on proposed developments. A final decision is up to the city council.

The city’s Human Rights and Fair Housing Commission wasn’t enthusiastic about the plan, and the Naperville Park Board urged Naperville to reconsider ahead of applying for land-cash donations. “There’s more work to be done” before a plan can be approved, said Planning and Zoning Commission Chair Bruce Hanson.

The idea that developments could be approved or modified without a hearing or vote doesn’t sit well with many residents of Naperville, who are actively involved in community meetings, Hanson said.

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“It is true that Naperville has the unique benefit of a highly specialized and qualified planning staff,” Hanson told the outlet. “However, the public should not be precluded from being involved in determining how, where and whether development proceeds. Government should not operate that way.”

The Illinois Housing Development Authority told Naperville in 2018 that only 7.5 percent of its housing stock qualified as “affordable,” less than the required 10 percent.

The City Council in January began working on a zoning ordinance that would require developers to include affordable housing in new residential developments. It later decided it preferred a system that gave benefits to developers as an incentive to build affordable options.

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