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Former Joliet councilman cites high cost of flood insurance, gets permit

JOLIET – Former Councilman Alex Ledesma said he’s already having a problem with the cost of flood insurance.

At the same meeting this week where a presentation was made about new Federal Emergency Management Agency maps that would put a section of downtown Joliet and the near East Side into a flood plain, Ledesma asked the council to let him put an extra apartment in a building to offset the rising cost of flood insurance.

The council approved a special use permit for Ledesma against staff recommendation so he could convert storage space into an efficiency apartment at a building he owns at 711 E. Jackson St.

“The flood insurance is the killer,” Ledesma told the council.

Ledesma served three terms on the council before losing the 2007 election.

He is paying $800 more for flood insurance and needs to rent a fourth apartment to pay the cost, Ledesma said. The area has a flooding problem because of water running downhill onto Jackson Street, he said.

Staff had recommended rejecting the special use permit for two reasons.

One, Ledesma began doing the work without getting a building permit, which he acknowledged.

“I know I started it wrong,” Ledesma said to the council.

Also, there is no record of a fourth unit being in the building, said Kendall Jackson, community development director.

Jackson said the planning department consistently recommends against adding new units to buildings, although the City Council does not always follow the recommendation.

“We have always been consistent in recommending denial,” Jackson told the council. “The council has overturned that in the past.”

The council approved the extra unit with the condition that it only can be occupied by one person.

The vote was 6-1-1. Larry Hug voted no, and Jan Quillman passed on her vote, saying she wanted more information.

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