Palos Heights Alderman Michael McGrogan said Tuesday that the council should come up with a solution to the proposed parking lot controversy that would satisfy businesses and residents. (Photo by Jeff Vorva )

Palos Heights Alderman Michael McGrogan said Tuesday that the council should come up with a solution to the proposed parking lot controversy that would satisfy businesses and residents. (Photo by Jeff Vorva )

Parking lot nixed in Palos Heights but issue not dead yet

By Jeff Vorva

The controversial parking lot proposal in Palos Heights was not approved Tuesday night but the issue is not dead.

The city council needed a super-majority 6-2 vote for a zoning change from residential to business and granting a special-use permit for a municipal parking lot at 12303 S. 71st Court in the city’s downtown area.

Instead, there was a 4-4 deadlock and members of the council will try to come up with a plan that will please both businesses and residents.

For the third meeting in a row, residents packed the city hall chambers and many spoke up on the topic. Fourteen people addressed the council with four being in favor and 10 against.

They spent more than 50 minutes trying to sway the council one way or the other. Those who want the lot say that it has been needed for years in the downtown area and has been in the city’s comprehensive plan. Those against were residents worried about property values going down, noise, pollution and lawbreaking in their neighborhood.

Aldermen Jeffrey Key, Brent Lewandowski, Heather Begley and Jerry McGovern voted for the lot while Donald Bylut, Jack Clifford, Robert Basso and Michael McGrogan voted against it. The voted needed the 6-2 majority for it to pass because it was not approved by the Planning and Zoning committee.

Before the vote, McGrogan opened the door for the council to try to work on a less adversarial solution.

“This discussion has been going on all the way back to March and both sides have an excellent case,” McGrogan said. “Believe me, in the past several weeks a lot of people sitting up here discussed this. This is an interesting vote.

“The city works to accommodate business and the residents on almost every issue. You try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. In this case, maybe the best course of action here is to analyze this more. I think there are other opportunities.”

The issue will go back to the drawing board in committee to hammer out something that both the residents and businesses may be satisfied with.

Taking offense

During the Sept. 19 council meeting things got heated and McGovern referred to resident Dan Nicholson as a “son of a b—-” after reading a Facebook post allegedly written by Nicholson referring to McGovern as Ho Chi Minh. McGovern, a Vietnam veteran, was upset by that and used the obscenity.

Nicholson was at Tuesday’s meeting to argue against the parking lot and took offense to McGovern’s comment.

“We were all horrified at the ways members of the city council in their official capacity treated an American citizen, voter, resident and constituent,” Nicholson said. “My brothers were even more horrified by the repulsive, disgusting misogynistic, chauvinistic sexist language the city official used through his microphone to refer to our mom – a Vietnam widow.”

McGovern did not respond during the meeting.

2 Comments

  1. Madeline T Moriarty on October 8, 2022 at 4:12 pm

    As a resident of Palos Heights, residing on 71st Court within a block of the area of dispute, it is concerning and discouraging that there is not more consideration and respect for the residents who have purchased homes in Palos Heights and are deeply invested in Palos Heights as homeowners. I understand the need to support our businesses and other stakeholders in Palos Heights so as to thrive as a community. My concern however, is that if we compromise the trust and priority of our homeowners, we erode the foundation of our community.

    Further financial analysis and assessments can be completed, providing quantitative data for review. However, I am not confident that any future analysis could properly capture and assess the qualitative data needed to completely understand the thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs of our Palos Heights residents. Using a residential area for a parking lot does communicate that finances are more important that people. Furthermore, it will set precedent that any other home on 71st Court may be subject to becoming a parking lot in the future, including mine.

    Respectfully,
    Madeline Moriarty



  2. Todd Probasco on October 16, 2022 at 8:47 pm

    Our local businesses and patrons need more parking.
    The City already owns the property hopefully this can move forward.



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