Part IV – In Will County, Wilmington & Manhattan Village Officials Victims of Undertow of Growth

In Will County, the phenomenon of voters showing their displeasure with the way the “growth” is being handled can also be seen.

In the southwestern Will County city of Wilmington, the incumbent mayor, Tony McGann, was voted out of office, losing to 12-year Alderman Roy Strong. Strong won 45%-34%, with a third candidate receiving 21%. Strong campaigned on the promise that he was going to limit the developers in Wilmington to 25 new homes per year, modifying that figure to a total of 50-100 new homes during the campaign.

Another example of opponents to rampant growth taking revenge at the ballot box occurred in Will County Village of Manhattan, located between Joliet and Peotone. Challenger Bill Borgo unseated 12-year village President Jamie Doyle. The vote was 61% to 39%. A majority of Manhattan voters apparently felt that he had dealt “poorly” with the developers that had come to the town, especially with regard to the negative affect growth would have on local schools.

Common to most of these formerly relatively small suburban fringe towns is a change of living conditions brought on by rapid growth. Quality of life seems to decrease with the coming of each year. Traffic increases. School rooms overflow with children. One doesn’t know the neighbors.

People in Chicago and inner suburbs seek a better way of life for themselves and their children, so they head farther out, into what they previously considered the “boonies.”

What they find is a bigger lot for the money and the quality of life improves when they move to town. What they apparently do not realize is that the more people who move in, the more the local quality of life will resemble what it was where they used to live.

Road capacity does not keep up with the number of vehicles on the street. As the corn and soybean fields are turned into subdivisions, the children living there need schools which the people moving in do not begin to pay for. Developer impact fees, for instance, typically pay for about 10% of the needed new school buildings.

And, the developers are big players politically. With an estimated 20% or higher profit, they have plenty of money contributed to politicians willing to cooperate, not to mention to finance school bond and tax rate increase referendums.

The developers know they cannot sell as many homes, if local schools are overcrowded.

History shows that most towns taken over by opponents of rampant growth are recaptured by those whose allies benefit financially from growth.

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