An area along Wilcox Street that village staff is recommending be rezoned from a residential to general manufacturing district. || Screenshot
Monday, March 28, 2016 || By Michael Romain
Members of the Maywood Plan Commission/Zoning Board are pushing back against a series of recommendations made by village staff members that would entail rezoning several areas of the village so that they “reflect the best uses of the land and create future growth,” according to a memo drafted by Karl Palmquist, the village’s zoning officer and planner.
Staff members have proposed rezoning the business industrial park zoning district (BIP) on Saint Charles Road to accommodate additional smaller manufacturing uses like warehouse, contractor storage yards and auto rental establishments — while at the same time removing from the list of special uses like day care centers, drive-thru facilities and restaurants.
In addition, staff members proposed rezoning two areas — a two-block expanse from 7th to 9th Avenues between Legion and Wilcox Streets and a two-block area between 2nd and 4th Avenues and Wilcox and the Illinois Prairie Path — from multi-residential districts (R-5) to general manufacturing districts (M-1).
Palmquist’s memo states that those areas “have always been manufacturing in nature from the era when the railroad line passed through that section of the village.”
Staff members believe the changes are also consistent with recommendations made in the village’s comprehensive plan, which was approved in December 2014.
Palmquist and David Myers, the assistant village manager, presented their recommendations at a March 22 plan commission meeting, but according to several members of that board who were interviewed recently, those recommendations weren’t met with enthusiasm.
“We weren’t in favor of one thing they came up with,” said Heather Stelnicki, a plan commission member who was at the meeting.
Plan commission member Sara Lira said that she and other members of the commission don’t remember signing off on any changes within the comprehensive plan that called for rezoning area along the Prairie Path from residential to general manufacturing.
She and Stelnicki also noted that they didn’t agree with rezoning the BIP on Saint Charles in order to restrict certain special uses. She said she believes that business opportunities in that area should be expanded, if anything.
“Our argument was that you should be opening [the area up], not restricting it,” she said. “Wouldn’t a restaurant be good in that area? For instance, someplace where Cintas employees can go?”
“Neither Palmquist nor Myers could make an argument for why we needed to become so restrictive about Saint Charles,” said Stelnicki. “They said, ‘We don’t think a restaurant makes sense over there.’ But who are they to make that decision? We need to be more business friendly … instead of just saying, ‘No way,’ and shutting the door.”
Lira and Stelnicki noted that the space along the Illinois Prairie Path should be opened up to recreational and mixed-use development, such as outdoor fitness establishments, restaurants and other establishments conducive to the biking and walking activities for which the path is most often used.
They said that Palmquist and Myers, however, noted that the village hasn’t been getting any interest from developers wanting to open those kinds of establishments.
Instead of waiting on developers to come to the village, Stelnicki said, village officials should go after potential developers themselves.
“They said, “We haven’t gotten any calls for that,’” she said, referencing Palmquist’s and Myers’s positions during the March 22 commission meeting. “But we can’t just wait for the phone to ring. We might have to do some outreach, put together some type of presentation package. Sell the prairie path.”
A series of public hearings on the issue will be held next month before the Maywood Board of Trustees votes on whether or not to approve the village staff recommendations. Myers and Palmquist couldn’t be immediately reached for comment. VFP