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Wilmette to focus on housing, business development in 2023

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Housing and business development and an update of the village’s comprehensive plan are highlights of Wilmette’s 2023 agenda, officials say.

At the Jan. 24 Village Board meeting, Village Manager Mike Braiman projected the initiatives and projects likely to receive attention as the year proceeds.

In May or June, the village is set to have a public meeting regarding the village’s comprehensive plan leading into possible Village Board approval of an updated set of guidelines later in the year.

Braiman is predicting a review of the village’s housing plan with the housing commission meeting in February or March in conjunction with the hiring a consultant to help with the review.

He was not certain when that assessment would be completed.

“We want to be through and methodical in that process and invite the public to provide input,” Braiman said.

Braiman said the village staff plans to share updated renderings for the proposed Wayfair department store in Edens Plaza, now scheduled to open in early 2024, as well as for the expected renovation of the Plaza Del Lago shopping center on Sheridan Road.

Also in March, the village’s Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee is set to have the first of four meetings focusing on mental health needs in the community. In that same month, Wilmette’s Energy and Environmental Commission will review the recently-released report on the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. Their input is then likely to go to the Village Board for additional review and consideration for possible policy changes.

Braiman anticipated the village’s Historic Preservation Commission would work toward the initiation of a historic preservation plan in the third quarter.

“This is a new idea or concept for our community and it is not our intention to start to mandate or regulate how new construction is built or designed,” Braiman said. “But it is to look at incentives or ways to encourage the preservation of existing structures.”

Village staff has plans to tackle water quality issues with an ongoing inventory of existing water services.

Braiman said by the end of the year a study would be presented to the Municipal Services Committee regarding removing PFAS that are in Lake Michigan, also known as “Forever Chemicals,” from the village’s treated water supply. Alongside PFAS removal, staff will update the board on the number of lead service lines in the village as it moves toward replacing lead-service lines per state law.

Efforts would start toward the rebuilding of the existing village’s police station which still needs a new location. The village hopes to have a new station completed by 2026, according to Braiman.

Other issues that will be of interest will be the possibility of a new stadium on the site of Evanston’s Ryan Field, given the proximity to Wilmette’s southern border.

Braiman also said there may be some planned unit developments, particularly on Green Bay Road, and there is potential special use permit application for 200 Skokie Boulevard in the building where a proposed “Caddyshack”-themed restaurant failed to materialize.

However, after the meeting, he said nothing was imminent.

The village is also expecting applications for the use of lights from Loyola Academy at their football field at the intersection of Lake and Laramie Avenues. A similar request for lights is expected from their Wilmette’s Park District at West Park for their paddle tennis facility.

“This looks like a very ambitious plan, especially in the first quarter,” Village President Senta Plunkett said.

Braiman cautioned the anticipated dates are tentative and are likely to move around.

Daniel I. Dorfman is a freelance reporter with Pioneer Press.

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