(courtesy of Susuan Demar Lafferty of the Southtown Star)
Amid shouts of â€œThrow â€™em out!â€ and â€œWeâ€™re not your
piggy bank!â€ from the audience at Monday nightâ€™s village board meeting,
Orland Park trustees approved the controversial Ninety7Fifty on the
Separate votes were taken on six items concerning
the proposed 295-unit upscale apartment complex for which the village
will borrow $62 million, and all six passed.
A few residents applauded while many booed the action.
Trustee Brad Oâ€™Halloran was the lone dissenting
vote on the complicated financing package that allows the village to
borrow the $62 million to begin the first phase of the Main Street
redevelopment project, designed to create a â€œnew downtownâ€ for the
â€œItâ€™s too much debt,â€ Oâ€™Halloran said.
But while he voted against the financing plan, he
approved plans to build the apartment building adjacent to the Metra
station, just west of LaGrange Road on 143rd Street, saying, â€œI hope it
is a success.â€
Indianapolis-based Flaherty and Collins Properties
plans to break ground next month on the multistory building, which
village officials say will be the â€œlinchpinâ€ to spur redevelopment of
Trustee Ed Schussler reminded the board and
residents who crowded the meeting room that more than 30 years ago the
board made another bold move by approving a shopping mall â€œin the middle
of a pig farm.â€ Orland Square Mall, which opened in 1976, helped turned
the village into the Southlandâ€™s most populous suburb and one of its
â€œThese times call for creativity and innovation,â€ Schussler said. â€œWe need to invest in our future.â€
The board votes were on two special-use zoning
permits to allow the apartments, one on the actual redevelopment
agreement, two on the financing deal and one on a resolution directing
staff to explore and identify various options to reduce the villageâ€™s
â€œWe need to give this project a chance,â€ Trustee
Kathleen Fenton said, as she spoke at length about the new businesses
that recently have chosen to come to Orland Park because of its vision
and reputation, such as Dave and Busterâ€™s and hhgregg.
The plan calls for the village to loan the
developer $38 million and contribute another $24 million as an
incentive. Flaherty and Collins is bringing only $1 million to the table
plus paying $1 million more in fees.
The village will be paid back in full in 10 years
with rental income and revenue from a special taxing district, according
to the plan. If that fails, it will use its home-rule sales tax
revenue, village officials said.
Several trustees said they were comfortable with the plan because Orland Park always has been conservative with its money.
â€œWe have been extremely careful and cautious about
how this was put together. In 10 years, we will have enough home-rule
sales tax so this will not hit your tax bill,â€ Trustee James Dodge
He compared it with the $25 million the village has
spent to fix state roads â€” money it will never get back from the state
but that was spent because they care about the town.
Oâ€™Halloran said he was not against the
redevelopment and believes in Mayor Dan McLaughlinâ€™s vision for the
community, but the financing concerns him.
â€œThis will double the debt of the village. Itâ€™s too much risk at this time,â€ he said, while many in the audience cheered.
McLaughlin said he wants to â€œbuild for the future
and help ensure a bright future.â€ He said he has always been about
â€œopennessâ€ and â€œdoing what is right for the community.â€
McLaughlin allowed time for the public to address
the board before trustees spoke, but only a few took advantage of the
opportunity. Many others shouted out at the mayor and trustees during
the course of the meeting.
One man circulated fliers at the end of the meeting that said, â€œDonâ€™t re-elect any Orland Park board members.â€