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Elder/Centennial beach plans to skip Winnetka permitting process


The Winnetka Park District Board decided not to reach an intergovernmental agreement with the village, saying the optics would appear less transparent than going through the entire special use permit process.

Commissioners considered the idea during a March 7 committee of the whole meeting. Executive Director Shannon Nazzal read from a March 4 meeting with village representatives to discuss the future of stormwater pipe replacement at Elder Beach. Deciding whether the pipe needs to be replaced has slowed down the Park District’s plans to renovate the beach.

During the March 4 meeting, village representatives said the agreement could help facilitate this project. new village permit process For projects on steep slopes of lake cliffs. Under the newly created process, plans will be reviewed by the Design Review Board, Zoning Board of Appeals and Plan Commission before going to the Village Council for a final vote. The proposed agreement would allow plans to bypass boards and be reviewed only by the Village Council.

Commissioner James Hemmings opposed the idea, saying the community has emphasized the need for transparency on the project for years and that any discussions moving forward should be open.

“I think going through the special use permit process, the zoning commission, and the design and review board will allow the public to access those conversations and make them available to the public,” Board Vice Chairman Eric Lussen said. “I think we need this right now, especially for such a potentially impactful project that we have been discussing for years… This is not a backroom deal, but I don’t like the perception that it could be.”

No commissioners spoke in favor of the agreement.

Village President Chris Rintz and Trustee Rob Apatoff notified the Park District that the village began a stormwater study in April that will include the Elder pipe. The results of the study, including the required diameter of the Elder pipe, will not be available until July. The village has stated that it wants to move stormwater outflow to Elder but has not said where.

“This is the village’s timeline,” said Board President Christina Codo. “Although this makes the Elder plan less certain of location, it has been discussed and accepted that the main stream is unlikely to emerge from the Elder.”

Codo said another meeting will be held in the village before the March 21 meeting, where official approval may be required.

The board had previously instructed Park District staff to pursue Elder plans and focus on Centennial, to be presented March 18. village lakeside construction moratorium ends. Codo said the village wants the plan to be submitted holistically for permits.

The pipe, installed in the early twentieth century, now sits under a dilapidated pier at Elder Beach, which was originally scheduled to be removed as part of renovations. Previous plans also included moving the stormwater pipe to the stone breakwater structure at the north end of Elder Beach. Plans have since favored preserving the pier and rebuilding it in hopes that the village and the Park District could cooperate to replace or repair the stormwater pipe.

The renovation of Elder and Centennial beaches has been the focus of controversy in the village for years. The Park District had hopes of combining the two beaches, but was stopped when billionaire Justin Ishbia purchased 261 Sheridan Road, a portion of the land between the two beaches.

A. land swap agreement The project, which will give 261 Sheridan to the Park District in exchange for a similar-sized parcel of land at the south end of Centennial, was signed in October 2020. However, no title was exchanged and the agreement was deemed dormant by the attorney. Park District and Ishbia.

Plans for the ADA-accessible trail in Centennial were also changed to comply with the village’s steep slope ordinance. To create less impact on the escarpment, the walkway was shifted slightly inland from the escarpment area. With the new design, retaining walls can also be lowered.

Parks and Maintenance Director Costa Kutulas said the new design would be less intrusive and leave more green space with negligible changes in project costs.


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