Council rejects townhouse project

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By JOSH ADAMS

This story contains corrections to the print edition.

After months of review and public comment, the Village Council soundly defeated a proposal to construct townhouses in the 500 block of Elgin Avenue during its meeting Monday night.

Elected officials again heard from handfuls of area residents, the majority of whom said they did not support the project. Once the matter was turned over to the council, members discussed possible changes to the structure including a suggestion from Commissioner Theresa Steinbach to remove a portion of the fourth floor.

Developer Barney O'Reilly was proposing to tear down two homes at 504 and 508 Elgin Avenue and replace them with a four-story 12-unit townhouse development.

"If you look at it comparable to what's around it, the height is an issue," Steinbach said.

The council voted 4-1 to reject the proposal. Commissioner Mark Hosty cast the lone vote in favor of the project.

In response to Steinbach's recommendation that the fourth floor of the residential construction be partially removed, Hosty offered that the fašade simply needs to be "softened."

Mayor Anthony Calderone said it is too late in the discussions to recommend such changes.

"I don't know that we should be designing any properties at this level," Calderone said.

In a related vote, commissioners directed Village Attorney Mike Durkin to draft a zoning ordinance that would change the zoning of the 400 and 500 blocks on Elgin Avenue from an R3 zone to an R2 zone.

Under the R3 ordinance, the area is zoned for multi-family properties. The proposed change would permit two-flats and townhouses but restrict the height of the buildings to 35 feet. The current ordinance allows buildings as tall as 60 feet.

In the print edition of the Forest Park Review it is incorrectly reported that the zoning change has already been approved.

Attorney Tom Pikarski represented O'Reilly and said Tuesday he is discussing the options for an appeal with his client. Pikarski described the council's vote as "indefensible."

As for the village's subsequent decision to possibly rezone the property at 504 and 508 Elgin Avenue, Pikarski said that too, may come under fire through an appeal.

"From the start we have rejected the zoning being changed from R3 to R2," Pikarski said. "It isn't supported by the facts and it isn't supported by the village staff."

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