Jewel-Osco neighbors renew plea for peace and quiet

 

     Nearly five months after she attended a Palos Heights City Council meeting to complain about noise and other concerns related to the Jewel-Osco at 12803 S. Harlem Ave., Amy Lee was back with re-enforcements and a request.

            “We’re requesting to form a committee to work with Jewel and its parent company on the landscaping plan to replace the tree berm between us and Harlem,” she said at Tuesday night’s meeting. “I have spoken with [city Building Commissioner] Chris Kransberger, and I do understand there’s a new landscaping plan in motion. The residents would like to be on a committee to ensure that plans are enacted and completed in a timely manner.

            “We’ve been extremely patient in dealing with the noise, the loss of privacy, beauty and safety issues,” she added.

            Lee said she was representing the views and concerns of a number of people who live immediately east of the Jewel-Osco, including members of the Fairway Condominium Association and the Original Westgate Homeowners Association. About two dozen of them were in the audience with her.

            Like many at the meeting, Lee has lived in her home for more than a decade, long before the new Jewel-Osco was built.

Background

Three years ago, Palos Heights aldermen were assured that the disruption caused by construction of a new Jewel-Osco (mere feet south of the old location) would be minimal and that the surrounding grounds would be beautifully landscaped.

            An architect retained by the grocery giant said at a City Council Planning and Zoning Committee meeting in 2012 that he was “committed” to nearby residents, that he would plant a number of trees “with their input,” and that the adjacent Navajo Creek was “revitalized and gorgeous,” according to meeting minutes.

Three years later, some neighbors say that the creek is occasionally clogged with debris, almost none of the trees cut down in 2011-12 were replaced, and what had been a nice stand of trees behind the new Jewel-Osco is now a denuded patch of land—a health and safety hazard that has damaged the quality of life for the residential area immediately east of the supermarket.

“What happened was, they took down the forest behind our parking lot,” Lee said at a January meeting of the City Council. “It was a beautiful, forested area…but when they took down the trees, they took down the barrier between us and Harlem.

“So now we see lights all the time,” she continued. “It’s very noisy, and all during the night, from about midnight until 6 a.m., 7 a.m., we hear the loading of products at Jewel, Wendy’s, Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s so loud, and the loading docks and the garbage pickups—so you hear [truck] beeps, like, 18 times until there’s no way you can go back to sleep, which makes it really hard to get up and go to work. It’s had quite an impact on us.”

Mayor responds

As he did in January, Mayor Robert Straz assured Lee that the city would take action to address her concerns.

“I want you to understand that we’re not adversaries on this at all,” he said to Lee, noting that progress has been made on a plan of action and that he told Jewel-Osco officials that people living near the supermarket will want to be consulted on any changes.

“We’ll move forward with it,” he added.

Straz said that “a substantial wall” needs to be built to shield neighbors from the sights and sounds of the Jewel-Osco loading docks and nearby traffic.

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Photo by Tim Hadac

Fourth Ward Alderman Michael McGrogan (left), a former college hockey star, helped get his City Council colleagues in the spirit of the playoff season on Tuesday, supplying Aldermen Jack Clifford (center), Jerry McGovern and five others with Chicago Blackhawks jerseys to wish the team luck as it neared the start of the Stanley Cup Finals.

 

 

 

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