Without talking to anyone other than a small group of neighborhood association activists, my opponent voted to zone a home historic, against the recommendation of the City's Historic Preservation Office and even against the homeowner's wishes. This zoning change would burden the family with more than $1 million dollars in historic restoration costs that they could not afford to pay.
Helen Nohra is Hyde Park's oldest living resident. She has lived in the house at the corner of Avenue G and 43rd Street since 1943. Now in her late 90's and on a fixed income, her home has fallen into disrepair and is no longer suitable for her needs. After much difficult deliberation, Helen's daughter, Sylvia Dudney, who grew up in the home and now resides in the house next door, decided in early 2008 that the family's best option was to build a new home for her mother and brother.
An affordable new home would replace the dilapidated old home and also allow for two modest rental units to accommodate caregivers and generate income to cover the family's increasing bills. Because the house was more than 50 years old, securing a demolition permit to build the new home required review by the Landmark Commission and the Planning Commission.
During multiple hearings on the case over the course of more than three years, the City's Preservation Officer repeatedly said that the home did not meet the criteria for historic zoning. My opponent was on the Planning Commission, and led the effort to zone the home historic, against the wishes of the home owner and against the recommendation of City staff, never once sitting down with the family to better understand their needs. Instead, my opponent insisted that the family spend more than $1 million dollars in restoration expenses, and even went so far as to suggest the family had willfully neglected their home.