Keeping the Woods in Mosby Woods

Keeping the Woods in Mosby Woods

Couple canvasses neighborhoods to keep open space in the city by preventing overdevelopment.

A Mosby Woods couple has been distributing flyers throughout the city to ensure that mixed-use condominiums aren't built in place of the woods in their neighborhood.

Spencer and Patty Cake have created the Mosby Woods Quality of Life Coalition, but they said the issues they are fighting for are important to the entire city, not just their neighborhood.

"This is just an effort to show the mayor what the people feel," said Spencer Cake. "It's about the whole issue of over development."

The Cakes have distributed a petition to about 800 city residents, and said they have received an even greater response than they hoped for. The petition asks for signatures in support of denying the builder's request for a permit to build mixed-use condominiums on the Sylvan, or Rocky Gorge, property, located between the Mobil Station and Eaton Place on the north side of Route 50, near Plantation Parkway. The petition also asks the city to purchase the property as "open space-conservation," in order to prevent future developments there. In the city's Land Use Plan, open space is divided into three categories. The first, recreation, includes lands used primarily for active recreation. The "preservation" category is reserved for lands that the city plans to keep in a natural state, to the best extent possible. The "conservation" category mainly includes lands used for visual buffering and passive recreation.

Councilmember Scott Silverthorne said he wants to prevent the condominiums from being built also, because he said he's worried about overdeveloping the city during a time when the housing market is shaky, which might leave many of the units sitting empty.

"I don't think it's the best use for that property," said Silverthorne. "More residential condos at this stage doesn't make a lot of sense."

Councilmember Gary Rasmussen said purchasing the property as open space hasn't been part of the city's plan, but it hasn't been ruled out either. He said he'd "obviously rather have nothing" built on the property, but something will get built there sooner or later, so he'd rather it be condominiums than something with an even more intense use. He said the Sylvan property will be discussed, along with the ball field proposal for the Stafford West property, located nearby between Stafford Drive and Plantation Parkway, just off Route 50, at the July 11 work session meeting, which is open to the public.

AT THE MAY 23 City Council meeting, city resident Douglas Schauss presented his reasons for why the council should deny the Rocky Gorge application, citing that the Planning Commission voted against the application in April. He also cited that the Land Use Plan within the Comprehensive Plan does not directly recommend new residential development for any properties along Route 50.

As the Cakes passed out flyers in the Country Club Hills neighborhood near Van Dyck Park, they came across some residents who showed interest in the subject. Al Johnson said he supports more open space in the city.

"I'm for the housing prices to be as high as they can when I'm ready to sell," said Johnson, jokingly.

Johnson's wife, Anita, agreed with Rasmussen when the Cakes brought up the Sylvan site.

"I'd rather have condominiums than an amusement park over there," said Anita Johnson.

One of the Johnson's neighbors, Gary Sullivan, showed interest as well, since he fought the construction of a hotel behind the Country Club Hills neighborhood and won. He said he went down to City Hall with members of the Country Club Hills Civic Association and they convinced the council to preserve the land. The council also helped the association preserve an empty lot in their neighborhood so they could turn it into a park. Sullivan and the Johnsons said they are grateful for the help the council has provided for their neighborhood, and hope the Cakes will get similar results. Through the city's Neighborhood Grant Program, Sullivan said his association received money to plant trees, bushes and flowers for the park. The city also built a pavilion for the park.

"This is a little treasure that we put in," said Sullivan, as he played softball with his 6-year-old daughter, Megan, in Country Club Hills Commons.