Winnetka’s Private Lanes
today at 4:12 pm
When you buy a home in Winnetka you assume that certain responsibilities will be taken care of by your village government. Some of those things might include street and curb repair, snow plowing, street lamps, or other maintenance chores.
What you might not be aware of is that Winnetka has a whopping 24 private roads and four partial ones. If your real estate agent is not aware of this, you could be in for a surprise. There are costs involved in maintaining private lanes and homeowners must get together, plan, and implement the work involved. A sort of homeowner’s association for private lanes.
Sharing snow plowing costs is generally manageable but repaving or completely laying down a new street with curbs could be costly. Sewers might also have to be replaced if not properly cleaned of tree roots and other impediments. Street lighting must be addressed as well.
Some private streets that are located near each other, work together and form formal associations whereby residents assume the rules of president, treasurer, etc. Others are much more loosely handled with all residents on an email list that one person handles. Almost all have levied a yearly fixed cost on all residents of the street to handle the routine upkeep – this can very from several hundred to perhaps $1000.
Larger projects must be bid out and the resulting costs divided between the residents. One Winnetka resident told me that their street needed curb work done that was already being done on a public street nearby by the Village. They contacted the Village and worked out a deal to have that same vendor do the work on their street thus saving money.
Residents can decide to have a street become public – Trapp Lane was changed from a private lane to a public one in 2010 with considerable costs borne by the homeowners. A unanimous decision was acted by Trapp Lane residents who wanted the road public.
Westmoor Trail has a narrow landscaped median down the middle of the street. Several homeowners wanted to convert it to a public road and eliminate the median. Majority wins – the idea was turned down and it remains a private street with a charming (to some) landscaped median.
Winnetka’s private lanes do have tony addresses – some of our most expensive homes are located on them. Many of the street signs that indicate the private lane might say “Private – Residents Only.” However, the ones that are through streets are used by everyone.
If you are new to the area and thinking of buying here – use a local real estate agent who knows about the private lanes. There are enough balls to juggle at closing without finding out that you’ve got some additional costs you hadn’t counted on.
Here is a list of private lanes in Winnetka:
Glen Oak Drive
Plum Tree Lane
Thorn Tree Lane
White Oak Lane
Woodley Road (unincorprated area)
In addition, there are several roads that have partially private addresses:
Auburn Road – 855 and up
Kent Road – 3, 5, and 7
Sunset Road – 972, 976, and 1015 to 1122
Sheridan Road –
331-341 odd numbers only
453-499 odd numbers only
849-859 odd numbers only
(Note: there is a street in Winnetka named Private Lane – it is not a private lane!)
There is absolutely no problem in living on a private lane – some people prefer it because they are usually quiet and secluded. The taxes are a tiny bit less because the services that the homeowner pays for are technically not charged by the Village. It’s important to be aware of which streets are private before your make your home purchase.