ELMHURST – Prior to voting on the height of the Addison Parking Deck, the Elmhurst City Council voted against sending the issue to referendum.
"We all agreed that going forward with a referendum was not a wise course of action," Fourth Ward Alderman Kevin York said of the Finance, Council Affairs and Administrative Services Committee's recommendation against the referral.
Because Elmhurst is a home rule community, the referendum requested by aldermen Michael Bram and Diane Gutenkauf would be advisory only. The City Council would not be bound to adhere to its outcome regardless of whether residents support or oppose the project.
Ultimately, committee members decided the project was too far along to put to referendum.
"Just because we're home rule doesn't take away the right of voters to decide how or when we're spending money," Gutenkauf said.
She argued that, while the project has been in the works for years, the conversation to change the height of the building began more recently and merits opportunity for public input. A taller parking garage would cost the city more money with each floor added.
"There are hundreds of ribbons tied on trees around town because people care about what's going to happen and that's how they feel they have to communicate that with us," Gutenkauf said.
She also said residents still have an opportunity to petition, but Fifth Ward Alderman Scott Levin called the idea "ill-advised."
He said the city has already committed to the project with a developer. Although the council had not yet decided on the height of the structure, Levin said the referendum would do little since the council is already under contract with the developer.
"We'll get sued if we don't perform," Levin said.
He also believed the public has had many opportunities to voice their opinions on the project.
"There's been more public input on this particular project than most projects I'm aware of," Levin said.
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How they voted
Following discussion, the committee report against the referendum was approved 12 to 2.
Ayes: Marti Deuter, Bob Dunn, Norman Leader, Dannee Polomsky, Stephen Hipskind, Kevin York, Scott Levin, Chris Healy, Michael Honquest, Jim Kennedy, Mark Mulliner, Patrick Wagner
Nays: Diane Gutenkauf, Michael Bram