"The Community First Initiative"
We have established
a grassroots initiative called “Community First”, a cooperative effort among
a diverse group of homeowners, builders, architects, community leaders,
bankers, real estate agents and other professionals. Its mission
is to establish a process by which homeowners and professionals
can compile information about the neighborhoods and the interests
of the residents to create advisory guidelines for the successful
and continuous improvement of their homes.
Our reason for
starting this initiative is that over the past several years the
City of Naperville has been trying to establish additional regulations
pertaining to the “bulk” of homes that are to be remodeled or replaced.
Both the Task Force and City Staff have expended many hours in the
process of trying to determine how to fairly address the concerns
of Naperville’s 35,000 homes. Although there is general agreement
that any new laws mandating such regulations should, in fairness,
apply citywide, no one has been able to find numeric formulas that
are acceptable to all.
consideration of proposed “bulk” regulations, in the form of footprints
and/or ratios, and numerical limits on height and yard set backs,
etc., we have concluded that such restraints cannot help us achieve
the vision we have for continuous improvement and gradual evolution
of Naperville’s neighborhoods.
Some of the best
examples of existing and replacement housing clearly violate the
proposed numeric limits, while some of the worst examples fall comfortably
within them. Limiting the size of a home does not mean that it will
be acceptable to a neighborhood. Compounding this problem further
is the vast array of housing styles that exist in Naperville’s neighborhoods.
We are also concerned
with the unintended consequences of highly restrictive code changes
and believe they would not be in the best interest of our community.
Such restrictions can prevent creative innovations by our most experienced
building professionals while simultaneously inviting the less imaginative
“formula” houses. Market forces can be affected.
The Community First workbook of advisory guidelines
will help homeowners identify those architectural elements that
characterize their neighborhoods and those elements and practices
they believe would help redevelopment blend in with existing homes.
Community First will help builders, developers
and other professionals to share their expertise, so that it may
be captured and integrated with the desires of the homeowners and
used for the benefit of all. We propose, however, that all such
professionals who share our vision, and who would enjoy the endorsement
of Community First, use their best
efforts to respect the character of the neighborhood as defined
in the guideline workbook.
We strongly believe
that these guidelines will educate, promote communication and provide
a valuable element of predictability to the remodeling and/or replacement
of homes in our neighborhoods. It is our hope that this community
sponsored solution will not only have a positive impact on Naperville,
but will also provide a model for other communities.
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