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Aldermen Strike Down Radon System Proposal

City EDC urged new residential constructions to include an active radon reduction system.

The Yorkville City Council shot down a proposal to require all new residential construction projects to include an active radon reduction system in new homes.

Aldermen overwhelmingly opposed the plan, saying they did not want to add an additional governmental burden to developers, especially when the city is hoping to attract new developments.

The proposal was prompted after a resident and alderman expressed concern with the high level of radon in homes. Radon is gas produced from the decay of naturally occurring uranium in soil and water.Yorkville and Kendall County are in an area designated as Zone 1 for radon levels, according to a chart by the Environmental Protection Agency. Radon is drawn into a home from the ground through the air flow. Radon is a proven carcinogen. For those reasons the city economic development corporation wanted to amend ordinances to require the active systems, which staff said would cost approximately $300. Current homes are required to have a passive radon reduction system, said Pete Ratos, the city building inspector. The difference between the two systems is an active fan, which is what the $300 would cover, he said.

Before the vote Yorkville resident Fred Anderson told council an active radon system was good for residential homes.

“From a cost benefit analysis it makes sense … but I don’t think there’s a need to mandate this, there’s no need for the city council to do this,” said Ward 1 Alderman Carlo Colosimo.

He added an active system should be the choice of the developer and home buyer.

In support of the proposal Ward 4 Alderman Rose Ann Spears said she wanted to see the city of Yorkville take a leadership role in mitigating the threat of radon. She said the additional $300 would not be preventative for builders or residents purchasing a home. Besides, she added, leaving something up to the discretion of home builders is one of the reasons the city is having to increase property taxes in three residential Special Service Areas.

“That’s the worst disaster the city has seen,” she said.

Ratos said the soil content in Yorkville and through much of Illinois is in a high radon area. Some of the areas older homes do not have the passive system due to the construction design that allows air to circulate more freely within a house, Ratos said. Newer homes are built to a different standard and require the venting system, he added.

Concerned long time resident February 15, 2013 at 01:12 PM
The more requirements to help a new owner is what you should be doing. Developers should be told what to do by the government as they will and have built to save cost and not quality as we have seen many times. I am with Ms. Spears, I commend her once again for standing up for the homeowners. Yorkville should demand quality in building homes where they have not in the past. If the Developer wants to negotiate, let them go to the next town to build their crap.
Mark A Johnson February 15, 2013 at 02:25 PM
I'd like to add a comment in support of this and Rose. I asked Rose to look at this problem to have Yorkville be the first city in IL to mandate it. I had a system installed in my 40 yr old house last year that cost me $1200. All new construction in Kendall County MANDATES a passive system(cost est. $900) that actually does NOTHING to help the problem. An active system requires simply adding a fan(est cost $300) which would lower radon to safe EPA guidelines. The county REQUIRES home builders to spend $900 that does nothing. They should at least add the fan to make the system actually work. Radon is a killer that the builders gloss-over like they did the SSA's. They should either remove the worthless $900 passive system or add the $300 to make it work as intended. Thank you Rose for attempting to make homes safer for young families in our city.
Jerry Bannister February 15, 2013 at 04:23 PM
I would be for this mandate if it was proven we are, as a population, dying or getting sick earlier than other areas. Please cite the proof that Radon, from in-home exposure (and not other elements or behaviours), is causing us harm and I will be in line to support this type of mandate. Our local obits frequently show people having lived well past the national average and many of those folks are Kendall born and raised. Not only did these people eat lard, saturated fats, drank, smoked, were exposed to DDT and God knows what else, but they lived in houses with Radon. Somehow we must figure out how to live without a Government bubble protecting us from everything. If it makes you more comfortable to have a Radon mitigation system installed in your new or old house then by all means, go for it. It's America (for now) and your money (what's left of it). I am off to run a few errands now and I think I will buy a 40oz soft drink in a styrofoam cup and you just try and stop me LOL!!!!
Mark A Johnson February 15, 2013 at 05:27 PM
@Jerry, Although there are about 10 to 1 references showing radon trapped in a home is a threat, I would agree that it should be a personal choice. Today it is NOT a personal choice. My point is that government has dictated we spend $900 for each new home and their mandatory system does nothing to alleviate the problem. Let's eliminate the county/state LAW/MANDATE wasting our $900 or let's add $300 to finish the job and do it right.
Radon February 17, 2013 at 06:50 PM
Very good point Mark. This radon issue reminded me tobacco in 60's. People were testifying before congress, telling us that cigarettes are perfectly safe and nothing should change until more research is done. But now we know that tobacco killed 100 million people over the course of the 20th century. There is more than enough evidence that radon gas causes lung cancer and kills people. People are just refusing to believe it. I think that the most important role of government is to educate people about radon issue.

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