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City, family clash over pool

May 22, 2019

KANKAKEE — A family wants an above-ground, seasonal pool at their riverside house, but the city has denied the request because of a floodplain issue.

The family is protesting the decision and has the support of at least three of Kankakee’s 14 aldermen.

At Monday’s Kankakee City Council meeting, Gina and Adam Phillips, who live at 451 E. Water St., in the city’s 2nd Ward, spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting to question last month’s decision by the city’s code department. The city, they said, indicated it was stopping all new development in the floodplain.

But Gina Phillips said this justification seemed wrong, especially given the city is pushing a riverfront development project. She said it was unfair the city would allow itself to develop in the floodplain, but not give that right to private property owners.

“Most likely, we’ll have to go to court to resolve this,” she said.

She said the family would set up the pool in the summer and take it down for the winter.

Adam Phillips, a frequent critic of Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong’s administration, said he has done everything “humanly possible” to reach Tomora Nelson, the city’s code enforcement director, to go over local ordinances to show that the above-ground pool would comply. But he said she hasn’t returned his many messages.

Nelson was at the meeting but did not respond. She didn’t return a message left at her office Tuesday.

Later in the council meeting, Alderman Mike O’Brien, D-2, said he could see nothing in the city’s flood ordinance that would bar someone from having a temporary, above-ground pool in the floodplain.

Danita Grant Swanson, R-4, and Dave Crawford, R-3, agreed.

“Making our citizens unhappy over something that is unjust needs to be rectified as soon as possible,” Swanson said.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the council went into closed session to discuss code enforcement personnel. It was at the request of Crawford, whom Wells-Armstrong recently removed as chairman of the council’s code committee.

The council voted 7-3 to go into closed session. Three abstained.

Voting to close the doors were Crawford; Grant Swanson; O’Brien; Tyler Tall, D-5; Stacy Gall, D-2; Larry Osenga, R-3; and Jim Faford, R-4. Against were Carl Brown, D-7; Cherry Malone-Marshall, D-1; and Fred Tetter, D-7. Michael Prude, D-1; Carmen Lewis, D-5; and Mike Cobbs, D-6, abstained.

The mayor and Chris Curtis, R-6, were absent.

After the closed session, the council revealed it would set a joint meeting between its economic development and code committees, including a closed session for informational purposes only.

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