New Players in Historic East Village Controversy

by Jan Christensen / photo by Tess Reiss The ongoing controversy surrounding the Conservation District began a new chapter on Nov. 9, with the election of a new slate of At-Large Board Members of the East Village Association. Newly elected members include Mark Behar, Bernard Bondar, Brian Delfosse, Ginger Duiven and Norbert Young. On Monday, Nov. 8 the City Plan Commission held a public hearing concerning the Conservation District. About 60 people crowded into the First Floor Boardroom. More than 20 people chose to speak. Many concerns centered on fears about reselling homes with a “clouded title,” created by restrictions on the properties. Many residents expressed opposition to the addition of any regulation on how they could use their property. Those who spoke in favor of the ConservationDistrict referred to the neighborhood’s historical significance and the importance of preserving the character of the neighborhood. Many expressed the hope that controlling growth might prevent property values from being artificially inflated by new, high-end construction in the neighborhood. Ginger Duiven, who owns three buildings in the neighborhood, confessed to feeling “conflicted” about the conservation district. She pointed out that the East Village Association had been working to improve the neighborhood for years. She pointed out that many of the people who currently oppose the district were “content to watch their property values grow while the EVA did all the work.” While she admitted that the Conservation District might slow the increase in her property values, she is “willing to let my community guide me in the ownership of my property.” She also believes that “the value of my property will be preserved by preserving my community.” Many among the “anti-overlay district” contingent took exception to the process of the Zone’s creation, with many voicing beliefs that the district represented “a small group of residents determining what the rest of us can do” with property. Brian Delfosse, an outspoken member of a neighborhood group formed in opposition to the distict, accused the EVA and 3rd District Alderman Mike D’Amato of “working in secret for two to four years” on the project. Alderman D’Amato provided a handout at the hearing showing a timeline of the process, including regular newsletter distributed to neighborhood residents and public meetings of which all property owners were notified by mail (see below). The Plan Commission will condense the four hours of public testemony they heard on Nov. 8 into a report to present to the Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee meeting on Dec. 14. That committee will make a recommendation for the full Common Council meeting on January 7.
by Jan Christensen / photo by Tess Reiss