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Local Editorials

Our view: Why Yorkville's downtown overlay district hearing is important

Route 47 downtown Yorkville.
Route 47 downtown Yorkville.

The term "overlay district" may not mean much to most folks, but in Yorkville it's currently important to the future of the city's downtown. City officials along with the city's planning consultants, Farr Associates of Chicago, are inviting the public to a special interactive meeting on Thursday, Feb. 15 at 5:30 p.m. in the library at Yorkville High School, 797 Game Farm Road.

According to the city, the purpose of the meeting is to review the city's downtown overlay planning district project. More plainly, Krysti Barksdale-Noble, the city's community development director, said the overlay district will give developers a vision of what the city wants to see in the downtown area. She explained the city's zoning ordinance dictates what the city prohibits on certain properties and lists certain restrictions, but the proposed overlay district has a different goal. "(Zoning) tells them what we don't want, but it's not giving them any ideas as to what we do want," she said.

Barksdale-Noble noted the overlay district won't have the same criteria and standards as straight zoning areas. "It's going to say, we want you to build here, we want you to build this close to the road, we want a lot of windows along the frontage, and we want your building to be this tall," she said. "It's giving a physical identity to what we want in a downtown."

That's why the hearing is important to the future of the downtown area--Yorkville's historic center. The hearing represents an opportunity for city residents to tell city officials and their planners the types, sizes and locations of new businesses and other developments in what is arguably the most important and vital area of the community.

Yorkville has grown exponentially out along Route 34 to the east and west and along Route 47, both north and south over the past many years. But it is the city's downtown--once the city's retail center--that is now in transition. The type of new business uses and other developments the city permits in the downtown in the years ahead will do much to determine not only area's future but also the community's identity. We hope local residents take the city up on its invitation to attend the hearing and offer their opinions and suggestions on the downtown.

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