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What the proposed zoning changes mean to Wilber Heights

Champaign County passed an ordinance in 1973 intending to turn the Wilber Heights neighborhood into a strictly industrial region. The regulation prohibits the rebuilding of or substantial repair to any home.

The zoning ordinance, deeming all homes non-conforming, prohibits any resident from adding on or renovating more than 10 percent of the replacement value annually

The move lowered property values, residents said

The Champaign County Zoning Board of Appeals made a final recommendation on zoning changes to help those living in the Wilber Heights area on Feb. 17. (Click here for our most recent story on the issue)

CU-CitizenAccess file photo/ A sign in the Wilber Heights neighborhood.

Champaign sees large growth among diverse populations

The Hispanic and Latino population in Champaign County more than doubled between 2000 and 2010, while the overall population grew about 11 percent.

The U.S. Census Bureau released more detailed 2010 Census population totals and demographic characteristics to the governor and leadership of the state legislature in Illinois Tuesday. These data provide the first look at population counts for small areas and race, Hispanic origin, voting age and housing unit data released from the 2010 Census.

CU-CitizenAccess/ Places in Champaign County experienced significant change between 2000 and 2010.

Discussion continues on zoning amendments to help Wilber Heights residents

Pam G. Dempsey — The Champaign County Zoning Board of Appeals took comments Thursday night on proposed changes to zoning ordinances that will give Wilber Heights residents more freedom to improve their homes.

Wilber Heights – a small neighborhood located on north Market Street behind Market Place Mall – is a mix of industrial and residential property. A nearly 40-year-old county ordinance zoned the area industrial, despite the heavy mix of residential property. 

Because of the zoning, existing homes were deemed nonconforming, which prevented owners from making improvements to their properties beyond 10 percent of their replacement value annually.

CU-CitizenAcces/ file photo

Race maps show local divisions

By Pam G. Dempsey — In the past month, media attention has focused on race lines in major cities across the U.S.

CU-CitizenAccess/Visual representation of white and black residents in Champaign-Urbana (Source: 2000 Census)

A place to play: Dobbins Downs residents realize two-year-old dream

By Mary Schenk / The News-Gazette/CHAMPAIGN — Mable Thomas may not have been there physically Saturday, but her community spirit and good will were surely guiding the hands of hundreds of volunteers building a neighborhood playground in northwest Champaign that will bear her name.

The 61-year-old Thomas, Champaign’s neighborhood services coordinator for 18 years, died in April as plans were under way to get a park in the Dobbins Downs neighborhood in northwest Champaign.

Heather Coit/The News-Gazette/LaToya Merriweather, left, and her daughter, Asaia Merriweather, 6, dance on the sidewalk as they watch hundreds of community volunteers construct the new Dobbins Downs Neighborhood Playground in Champaign, Ill on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010. The Merriweather family lives just four blocks from the playground in Dobbins Downs.

County takes first step to help Wilber Heights residents

By Dan Petrella —The Champaign County Board took the first step Tuesday toward allowing residents of the Wilber Heights neighborhood to rebuild or make substantial improvements to their properties.

The board instructed John Hall, the county’s zoning administrator, to draft changes to regulations that now prohibit repairs or renovations to nonconforming residential properties beyond 10 percent of their replacement value annually.

CU-Citizen Access/ Liz Lerner

County move to change ordinance could help neighborhood residents

By Pam G. Dempsey, Acton Gorton and Dan Petrella â€” A Champaign County zoning official plans to propose regulatory changes for the Wilber Heights neighborhood that will combat the deterioration of residential properties.

The move follows a CU-Citizen Access investigation that exposed the impact of a zoning ordinance that has prevented residents from doing significant repairs to their homes. At the same time, the nearly 40-year-old ordinance has encouraged light and heavy industry to locate in the neighborhood.

Liz Lerner

Neighborhood Declines - And County Zoning Blocks Any Hope of Recovery

By Liz Clancy Lerner — It doesn’t take much to get Tom Lemke fired up.

Just ask him about his neighborhood – a place he has called home for 63 years -- and his frustration is evident. 

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Liz Lerner

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