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Hinsdale, Illinois |

Published Aug. 17, 2017

Neighbors may hold fate of lot in southeast Hinsdale area

By Ken Knutson

A Hinsdale village board meeting discussion Tuesday night began as a choice between letting a Hinsdale property owner subdivide his land in order to preserve a historic R. Harold Zookdesigned home through relocation or denying the request in deference to the zoning code and risking the home’s demolition.
   The evening ended in pursuit of a third option — an effort by neighbors to purchase the property, keep the house where it is and uphold lot size restrictions.
   Matt Bousquette is requesting a variance from the minimum lot area in the R-1 residential district to subdivide his 50,000-square-foot 444 E. Fourth St property into a conforming 30,000-square foot parcel facing Fourth and a non-conforming 20,000-square-foot parcel at 435 Woodside Ave. to the south.
   If approved, the Cotswold-style Zook house, which straddles the proposed subdivided lots, would be lifted, turned 180 degrees and moved south onto the Woodside lot. It would become home to the Parker family, which has a contract with Bousquette contingent on approval of the variance.
   The village’s zoning board of appeals voted unanimously to recommend that trustees approve the variance. Bousquette said he is not looking for financial gain, noting that he’s spent $167,400 pursuing the matter since he first brought it before the board 15 months ago.
   “I am selling the physical (Zook) structure for $200,000 in an attempt to save it,” he said. “My net proceeds at the end of the day, $25,000-$35,000, is not going to go very far toward paying my $2.6 million mortgage.”
   Bousquette’s nine neighbors on Woodside, however, oppose the move, saying allowing smaller buildable lots than the code permits would alter the neighborhood’s low-density character.
   Neighbor Kevin Holmes criticized Bousquette for not trying to find a buyer for unsubdivided land and said the group of neighbors are prepared to make an offer themselves.
   “We just would like our property rights to be respected and just would like to maintain the block the way it is right now,” he said.
   Bousquette has already agreed to sell the Zook home to Kris and Tracy Parker, who are currently renting it with their two young children, contingent on approval of a variance.
    Trustee Luke Stifflear emphasized that the board is prohibited from basing zoning decisions on an applicant’s financial objectives.
   Bousquette was asked if he would entertain the neighbors’ offer, if presented.
   Bousquette said he was uncomfortable discussing it because of his standing agreement with the Parker family and noted neighbors have had sufficient time.
   “This process has gone on for a year. If they believed that that was the case and they believed that they had (an offer) before tonight, they should have shown up and knocked on my door,” he said.
   But Village President Tom Cauley said if the offer satisfied the interests of all parties — i.e. Zook house preservation and avoidance of subdivision — then it would influence the board’s deliberations.
   “If they come back with a legitimate offer, and then it seems to us, at least to me, that this property is salable without subdividing it and the Zook house can be preserved, that presents an attractive option that I have to consider,” Cauley said.
   The neighbors were given until the next village board meeting Tuesday, Sept. 5, to submit an offer to Bousquette to purchase the property.

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