NACC at City Council: Working to Protect Private Property Owner Rights

The Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce once again acting as Your Advocate spoke at Naperville City Council in late June. We spoke to encourage the City Council to be strategic and refresh their current landmark ordinance. 

“Landmark Status” refers to a building or plot of land that has been designated by the government as having some sort of historic, artistic, or aesthetic value. The current landmark ordinance in Naperville provides that any person or entity may file a landmark petition provided the property is at least fifty (50) years old and meet at least one criterion for significance (occupied by a historic significant figure, connection to a historic event, distinguishing period architecture, etc.)

Once a property is “landmarked,” there are significant restrictions on the development rights of the owner of the property as control over the demolition and alteration of properties. Involuntary landmarking of private property imposes an unfair burden on owners by significantly reducing the market value of the property due to redevelopment limitations and will add months of review process thus delaying redevelopment and resulting in significant economic injury.

Two recent city council considerations of “landmarking” were the Kroehler Mansion on the Little Friends Campus near the North Central College campus and Kroehler YMCA in downtown Naperville.  Both properties were owned by private non-profit agencies that could no longer maintain the mounting costs of maintaining these properties due to their obsolete infrastructures.  Both non-profits were forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend against the petitioners who had no financial stake in the proceedings. These are dollars that could have been invested in programs supporting the mission of these two well-known and respected organizations in serving community needs.   

The NACC has joined with a group of other stakeholders to ask Naperville City Council to require the consent of the property owner before a landmark designation process can be undertaken and institute other measures that would protect the rights of property owners. 

This does not mean we are looking to tear down buildings, this is about demonstrating greater respect for private property rights while still advancing the interest in protecting a property that is worthy of “Landmark Status” or another protective status.

There are many ways the city can partner with existing groups to educate and promote voluntary landmarking.

Did you know you can voluntarily landmark your home or your property? There are many organizations that can help educate you as to why this is necessary and what steps you need to take.

Why now? There is no current landmark application moving through our city system so we are hoping to use this time to bring groups together to come up with a true new strategic legacy for both preserving history, while also preserving private property owner rights.

If you would like more information on the landmarking issue or any policy impacting the business community, please reach out.

Reba Morgan Osborne

Director of Government Affairs

(630) 544-3387 |

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