WINNETKA – The Winnetka Village Council voted in favor of eliminating liaisons from the Winnetka Park District, Winnetka School District 36 and the Winnetka-Northfield Public Library District on the plan commission at a special meeting held on March 19.
The village council had recently discussed at its March 6 meeting shrinking the commission from 13 members to 10 as a way to streamline processes and increase efficiency.
The plan commission is a recommending body appointed by the village president and trustees. In addition to five residents, it comprises representatives from public bodies such as the Zoning Board of Appeals and Landmark Preservation Commission, as well as liaisons from the Park District, School District and Public Library. A village trustee also sits on the plan commission as a non-voting member.
While it is the plan commission’s responsibility is to make recommendations regarding the village’s Comprehensive Plan for development in the village, it also deals with other technical matters such land subdivisions, as well as plan developments.
John Thomas, a Park District liaison to the plan commission spoke against restructuring the commission during public comment. “We don’t think a 13 person plan commission is unwieldy,” he said. Thomas maintained that the 13-member plan commission was operating efficiently.
“The plan commission has been operating for some time. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” Thomas said.
Trustee Scott Myers, who was not at the March 6 council meeting when the issue was discussed, noted that the plan commission addresses very few issues that require the expertise of someone from another taxing body. “I don’t think you get any more value out of a 13-person commission than a 10-person commission,” he noted.
Myers noted liaisons could be pulled in on an ad hoc basis to weigh in on relevant issues.
Likewise, Trustee Penny Lanphier agreed that a potential ex officio role might be beneficial, where board members from the Park District, District 36 or the Public Library could choose to weigh in on relevant issues. An ex officio role would allow all of the taxing bodies to remain in communication, but wouldn’t require those board members to spend valuable time on technical issues, Lanphier said.
President Chris Rintz did not rule out the idea of an ex officio role entirely, but noted that it would require more discussion at a future study session if council members were interested in that idea. Trustee Andrew Cripe added that if the council were to revisit this issue, that maybe it should also reconsider how the plan commission operates.
In the meantime, the council voted to adopt an ordinance that would eliminate the liaisons from the plan commission entirely.