Palos Park sends recommendation to deny back to Plan Commission

Color page one palos park storyPhoto by Michael Gilbert

Resident Kathy Michal (left) signs a petition against the construction of a proposed medical office building on McCarthy Road while resident Maryann Murnin looks on Monday prior to the start of the Village Council meeting.

To avoid potential litigation, Palos Park officials voted unanimously Monday to send a developer’s request to rezone residential lots on McCarthy Road for a medical office building back to Plan Commission for another hearing.

The move may seem like déjà vu to the residents opposed to the zone change. The Plan Commission had voted unanimously on Oct. 20 to recommend the Village Council reject the rezone petition to the cheers of those residents who remained to the end of that contentious session that lasted more than two hours.

Developer Brad Wilson is seeking to have the parcels at 7831, 7835 and 7919 W. McCarthy Road rezoned from R-1 residential to B-2 business in order to construct a two-story, 43,769 square-foot medical office building, with 190 parking spaces.

Village attorney Thomas Bayer told the more than 170 residents who packed the Palos Recreation Center’s gym for Monday’s Village Council meeting that the Plan Commission did not sufficiently explain its reasoning for denying the rezoning in its recommendation to the Village Council.

 

Bayer said Palos Park code lists six factors the Plan Commission is to consider when deciding whether or not to recommend approval or denial of a rezoning request.

It is imperative the Plan Commission not just come up with a recommendation that says ‘we vote to deny or we vote to recommend’ but to explain why they are making that recommendation.”

“The reason that is so important is those six factors are based on case law in Illinois and case law says a court can analyze somebody who is challenging the decision of a municipality,” Bayer said. “That is what the court is going to look at to determine whether or not that decision was reasonable based on the factors and evidence presented.

In reviewing a petition for the rezoning of land, the Plan Commission is required by the village code to consider the following factors:

  • Existing uses of property within the general area of the property in question.
  • The zoning classification of property within the general area of the property in question;
  • The suitability of the property to the uses permitted under the existing and proposed classifications;
  • The trend of development, if any, in the general area of the property in question, including changes, if any, which have taken place since the date the property was placed in its present zoning classification;
  • Proposed uses of property within the general area of the property in question as represented on the Village Comprehensive Plan;
  • The frontage and square footage of the land and whether or not it adjoins a parcel of land, which bears the same zoning district classification as the proposed amendment.

“Whether there is ultimately an approval or denial of the rezoning, it is very important that a record be set that relates to those factors so that the decision is not arbitrary but based upon the evidence presented,” Bayer said.

Commissioner G. Darryl Reed moved to refer the rezone petition back to the Plan Commission so that the standards of the village code are met. After he reviewed the tape of the Oct. 20 hearing, Reed said the village lacks “a record sufficient for council review.”

Palos Park Mayor John Mahoney said after the meeting the Plan Commission “did not make specific fact findings” in its decision to recommend rejecting the rezoning. “The record needs to be clarified,” he said.

The council’s decision to refer the issue back to the Plan Commission rather than concur with the recommendation to deny the rezoning did not sit well with residents, especially Patricia Skertich. “We cannot see a positive [to the medical office building,]” Skertich told the council “I’m trying to understand [the benefits] and I think many of us are.

“Once rezoning starts it is like a cancer – it doesn’t stop. If you rezone that one area it will creep down McCarthy Road and erode our property values and destroy the beauty of the village.”

Sue Parker she was proud of the residents who have signed a petition against the proposed medical office. “A group of us have gone door-to-door to every house in the village and all I can say is I am so proud of Palos Park,” she said. “I have lived here 10 years and never knew this community existed. This nightmare of a situation has brought us all together.”

Resident Cathy Maier asked the council if the decision to send the item back to the Plan Commission was an opportunity for the developer to meet the six criteria. “A lot of people in this village have spent a lot of time trying to tell you how they feel and I think sending it back to the Plan Commission is not an efficient way of using your village residents’ time,” Maier said.

Julie Fitzpatrick told the council the building could compromise the safety of residents in the area. “123rd Place is a cut-through street,” Fitzpatrick said. “If this medical building goes up it’s going to bring people from all over who don’t know the speed limit. It’s a very dangerous intersection and this will create more problems, more accidents, injuries and deaths. This should not be approved.”

The Plan Commission will next discuss the potential rezoning during a public hearing Thursday, Dec. 15. at 7:30 p.m., Mahoney said. That meeting, like the one held Monday, will take place at the Palos Park Recreation Center, 8901 W. 123rd St., to accommodate what is expected to be a large crowd. Monday’s meeting marked the first time in more than a decade a village council meeting was held anywhere but the Kaptur Administrative Center.

The Village Council will take no action on the rezoning until the first meeting in January, the mayor said.

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