Surprised that Belleville wants rental houses

July 18, 2013 

If Belleville's leaders have been clear about any one topic, it's that rental property is a problem and the city has too much of it.

That aversion to rental helped stop apartment projects near Southwestern Illinois College and the Scheel Street MetroLink station. It prompted the retroactive rezoning of some neighborhoods and the drafting of a crime-free housing ordinance.

So it was a great surprise to see Mayor Mark Eckert break a tie so a developer -- not local but from Springfield, Mo. --could build rental homes in the city for "moderate income" families.

We also don't understand why Eckert said it was OK that the lot sizes would be under the city's minimum requirement. He said property was approved before the city changed its ordinance on lot sizes. But this project is just coming before the full City Council.

The developer is only considering building these houses in Belleville because of the potential for funding through the Illinois Housing Development Authority. No state money, no houses. So maybe they never will be built. Isn't Illinois broke?

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