Harlem-Irving neighbors calling for changes
Al Drantz of Norridge stands in front of the residents proposed site of the Sports Authority loading bay on Octavia Ave July 16. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 20, 2012 11:06AM
NORRIDGE — Residents’ dissatisfaction with plans to expand Harlem/Irving Plaza continues.
At the July 11 Norridge Village Board meeting, residents again voiced displeasure at a perceived lack of concern by the village and mall involving the quality of life in their neighborhood, as expressed at previous appearance and zoning board meetings.
Among the concerns reiterated at the Village Board meeting were the fear of loss of the residential character of the neighborhood to the north and west of the mall and the consternation over having to attend myriad meetings.
Zoning Board members at the July 9 meeting reminded residents myriad times that discussion was limited to the two agenda items concerning allowing the sale of alcohol within the plaza and zoning variances for building height, setbacks and parking; and that residents could take their other concerns to village trustees at their July 11 meeting.
At the Village Board meeting, trustees listened to residents, but Village President Ron Oppendisano noted their issues were the concern of the plan commission, which next will meet at 7 p.m. July 17 in Village Hall, 4000 N. Olcott Ave.
Oppendisano did acknowledge the village needed to create a better way to consistently document concerns.
“Like we did for the big snow storm,” he said, referring to the Feb 2, 2011 snowstorm and noting the suggestion came from a resident.
Al Drantz submitted to the Village Board a revised version of residents’ plan to co-exist with the proposed mall expansion.
Among the plans suggested were:
keeping open the alley between Collum Avenue, on the north end of the mall and Forest Preserve Drive on the south end, to help preserve some semblance of a residential neighborhood for those who live on Collum;
relocate the proposed truck dock on the southeast corner of Collum and Octavia avenues, again to preserve a sense of neighborhood;
restrict the flow of mall traffic away from Collum and Octavia avenues through a variety of options; and
provide homeowners in the area with insurance protection against property damage.
Resident Anne Cipiriani also reiterated concerns presented at the various committee meetings.
Those issues included the widening of Collum to allow for more truck traffic; the placement of dumpsters too close to Collum; and light pollution from a proposed parking lot.
She also expressed frustration that all issues cannot be discussed at one public hearing.
“There’s too many meetings,’ she said. “We were told to come to this one” only to learn the July 19 plan commission meeting was the proper forum in which to seek answers to her concerns.
Oppendisano tried to diffuse the situations by noting that seeking variances to the zoning code, the owners of the mall are giving the residents a chance to be involved.
“There used to be an amusement park there,” he said. “Hypothetically, you could have an auto repair training facility, a bowling alley or a kennel.”
And if the mall owners wanted to embark on those enterprises, the village would have no control because such uses are legal.
“HIP is family-owned,” Oppendisano said. “They’ve been here since 1955.
“We’re fortunate because the public gets involved because the developer needs variances.”