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Winnetka Council Denies Landmark Status for 528 Maple St.

Landmark Preservation Committee Chairwoman disagrees with decision, says home is part of a cohesive grouping of older houses around the Village Green.

Winnetka Village Council rejected granting a landmark status for a 117-year Foursquare home across from the Village Green despite a Landmark Preservation Committee recommendation to approve it. 

All trustees, except Arthur Braun and Stuart McCrary, voted to reject granting the landmark status, citing concerns about potential costs to taxpayers. 

Granting a local landmark designation allows the homeowners to apply for 12 years of reduced property taxes if the homeowner uses 25 percent of the property’s market value rehabilitating the building. The designation allows homeowners to apply for a property tax assessment freeze for eight years, followed by a four-year period during which the property’s assessed value steps up to an amount based upon its current market value.  

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Homeowners Jen and Rick McQuet told trustees that they would not apply to reduce property taxes and just wanted a way to share their home’s history.

But trustees voiced concern about future homeowners intentions to seek reduced property tax and said the designation could come at a price for other residents whose taxes must make up for the reduction. 

“Once a landmark, always a landmark,” Trustee Jack Buck said. “It’s very common for people to spend 25 percent [of the property value] on their homes in Winnetka … and then there is a tax freeze.” 

Holland: Tax Freeze Argument ‘Ridiculous and Prejudicial’ 

Landmark Preservation Committee Chairwoman Louise Holland says the whole argument about the tax freeze is “ridiculous and prejudicial.” 

“We have 28 landmarks over 20 years. Actually assessments have gone down in the village. So those homes that have opted for the assessment freeze are paying more than those of us that didn’t because the assessments went down but the assessed value of those homes have stayed at a higher level,” Holland said after Tuesday’s meeting. 

Trustee Richard Kates also voiced concern about the historic value of the McQuet’s home citing the property received zero ratings on the rarity of construction method and its application, association with an historical event, person, cultural activity, architect or master builder in the commission’s evaluation of landmarks. 

“I don’t agree with the conclusion,” Holland said. 

The McQuets says even though their application was denied, they plan to still share the history of the home that was built in 1895.

Two Village Green Homes Have Landmark Status

Holland says McQuet’s home is part of a cohesive grouping of older houses around the Village Green. In a document for the council, the commission wrote that “it is important to recognize the prominent homes on the Village Green, 528 Maple St. being one of them. Two other homes on the Village Green are also local landmarks: 500 Maple St. (designated in 1994) and 507 Cedar St. (designated in 2009).” 

It’s been increasingly harder for residents to get a designation for their homes, a request to designate four Tudor-revival commercial buildings as local landmarks were also denied earlier this year, according to Chicago Tribune. 

The Preservation Committee Chairwoman says even though she is frustrated with the council’s decision, she hopes it won’t deter people from seeking landmark status. 

“I hope people will still put their homes for landmarking,” she said. 

Learn more about a 109-year-old Tudor-style mansion landmark home in Winnetka.

Joni Johnson October 18, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Apparently, the trustees (based on the quote of Mr. Buck) don't undertand the vast difference between a "tax freeze" and a "tax assessment freeze". This lack of understanding is very troubling in our elected officials.
Jennifer Mcquet October 18, 2012 at 06:28 PM
You're right, Joni. He didn't understand and wasn't willing to listen to the experts that tried to explain. When he said our house was going to cost "millions" (with no back-up evidence, no source for that outrageously vague "#"), I had to cough/gag. When he attacked Louise Holland, we walked out. I was sitting next to his mother and she said to me, "Go Notre Dame!" BTW, this was the SECOND time they voted on us. For some reason we still can't understand, the 1st vote of 3 FOR and 2 against, didn't hold..... at that vote P. Buck was absent. And Spinney voted for us. This vote, he showed and Spinney did a 180 on a home she said (on record) she knew, loved and remembered fondly from decades ago...... What changed? Nothing to do with our 100+ year old 4-square.

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