The City of Geneva Has Passed the Ethical Tipping Point, Zoning Police Brutality Is the New Normal

Geneva’s regression ever closer to the brink of the ethical abyss has been observable for some time. Examples of progressive moral retreats towards mobocracy are not hard to find, and some have been discussed here (Dunkin’, Emma’s, Mill Race Inn, Open Meetings Act and FOIA violations, etc.) The most recent outrage was the ceremonial charade of sanctimoniously disapproving the faux “monopine” 100-foot cell tower at Oscar Swan while simultaneously allowing the FCC’s shot clock to expire. No doubt the City of Geneva will present a protest of the foul called by Towernorth via an instant replay before a federal judge, and the City might prevail. But the unforgivable crime was to let worried and anxious Genevans celebrate their victory (which may be pyrrhic) and let them go home without telling them that the game had been played under protest. The Mayor and City Council knew about the shot clock issue when they voted. They discussed it in secret that very night.

The City of Geneva’s litany of deceptive practices has extended past the tipping point into the abyss. For me, the straw that tipped Geneva into an unrecoverable nosedive into the swamp known as “The Geneva Way” was the destruction of the historic house next door to my home of forty years.

The demolition of the historic antebellum structure used as a home and office at 314 E. State Street (most recently a photography studio and “The Curiosity Shop” a half-century ago) and its detached garage that directly abutted my home to the north has decidedly degraded my microenvironment by increasing noise pollution, increasing light trespass, destroying privacy, and reducing visual appeal. These now demolished historic structures lay within a seventeen parcel, 7.2-acre zoning district designated B(3)E and also were within the East State Street Corridor Comprehensive Plan area designated for “transitional mixed-use.” [1]

Now my home is abutting a new parking lot that was not constructed according to the improperly granted “special use” geometric plan. The applicant for the parking lot special use (Malone Funeral Home) had expanded into an adjacent parcel to the west twenty years ago without the required special use permit. “Somehow” the applicant got an unlawful “wink and a nod” approval from the City under the guise of a building permit for a “remodel.” (I have the tape of the apology for the “mistake” made by Mr. Untch at a City of Geneva Plan Commission public hearing a decade after the mistake. The most critical part begins at about the 6-minute mark.)

The current parking lot expansion special use permit “must” satisfy all nine “standards” enumerated in Geneva’s Municipal Code. Let us examine just the first standard: “The proposed use at the specified location is consistent with the comprehensive plan.” Below are links to the Geneva Comprehensive Plan and the Municipal Code. What, exactly, makes the demolition of a transitional mixed-use structure consistent with “maintain and use the existing structures?” And how does expanding yet again a parking lot use that was already unlawfully expanded once before consistent with not increasing the intensity of that use? The Municipal Code is clear that failure to meet a single standard causes the entire application to fail. Then the Mayor and City Council granted variances that violate several other standards. Geneva property owners no longer enjoy the protection of an honorable zoning police force, and the Plan Commission members are merely ceremonial court jesters.

Five historic structures have been torn down and the land left vacant (or worse) within a block or so of my home over the past couple of years. Others are on the brink of extinction. Worse, the very character of the community has been blighted by its current posse of lawless appointed vigilantes who stormed a city hall that was left undefended by a distracted citizenry. The next victim of these ochlocrats might be you and your neighbors.


[1] Comprehensive Plan | Geneva, IL – Official Website (accessed Sept 20, 2022) “Transitional Mixed-Use The area designated transitional mixed use connects the East State Street commercial corridor to the Downtown/ 3rd Street area, just to the west. This area should maintain and use the existing structures, many of which are residential conversions. While the intensity of uses should not increase, a continued mix of residential and commercial uses should be encouraged. Allowable uses within the transitional mixed-use area includes [sic] retail, commercial service, professional offices, and specialty retail.” The first of the nine Geneva Muni Code mandatory standards that “shall” (means “must”) be met to grant a special use reads: ”The proposed use at the specified location is consistent with the comprehensive plan.” CHAPTER 14 – ADMINISTRATION AND ENFORCEMENT | Code of Ordinances | Geneva, IL | Municode Library (accessed Sept 20, 2022)

2 thoughts on “The City of Geneva Has Passed the Ethical Tipping Point, Zoning Police Brutality Is the New Normal

  1. The City of Geneva is losing / has lost a substantial amount of its former charm. The elected and hired officials appear to be derelict in their duties. While this complaint is very partial to the author, by circumstances, that does not undercut the sufficiency of his complaint, nor overlook the constancy of his series of observations of derelictions of duties by officials through decades. The postures of these officials appears, in these cited cases, to be paraphrased by the popular current phrase, “Let’s Go, Brandon!”

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  2. Hi Tom:
    This is a quote that galls me:
    “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”
    Rahm Emanuel
    In fairness, Rahm did not say this in the context of Covid, and context is important. JBP seized control of the Illinois government in 2000 with endless repetitive renewals of the Emergency Powers Act. One of his proclamations eviscerated the Illinois Open Meetings Act. But, again, in fairness, he advised local governments to postpone consideration of non-urgent matters. The City of Geneva not only ignored JPB’s advice, the City invoked the Emanuel Doctrine. Their fact sheets went beyond bias, they contained flat lies about such things as other proposals they discussed in illegal secret sessions. For example, during the Emma’s Landing affair the City hid and then threw away a competing proposal for the Emma’s site in an unlawful secret session. This LIHTC affordable senior housing proposal from MVAH was a far better fit with Geneva’s status as a Funding Tier 4 school district. This is just one of many blatant lies that cannot be excused. This example of fraudulent action will likely result in some lower-income Geneva families losing their homes due to rising school taxes.
    A Covid-facilitated pandemic of Stockholm’s Syndrome decimated morality at Geneva City Hall.
    Best,
    Rod

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