The village council voted unanimously Monday to reject a request for an extension to the Roos property’s Planned Unit Development Agreement, stating that they have been dissatisfied with the project so far and see no reason to prolong it further.
The property, an old industrial building at Circle Avenue and Harrison Street, will now revert to R-3 zoning until the matter appears before the zoning board, which can then change its zoning to industrial, said Mayor Anthony Calderone.
In a letter from Robert H. Smeltzer of the law firm Lowis and Gellin, representing the Armigate Capital Corporation, the property’s current owners, it was stated that if the PUD expires, the company will suffer “considerable consequential damages, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars it has expended thus far in site plans, floor plans….and other costs and expenses.”
The commissioners, however, were unsympathetic. “We’ve worked hard to ensure that the developer had what was needed, but (the project has been) a series of disappointments after disappointments,” said Commissioner Tim Gillian.
Commissioner Patrick Doolin was even more harsh: “Disappointment would imply that I had an expectation that you wouldn’t be here tonight,” he said, noting that little if any change has taken place at 7329 W. Harrison Street since the PUD was first granted a year ago.
“Any extension we granted would not benefit you or the community,” he said.
Village Attorney Michael Durkin noted early on in the meeting that a letter he had received from Armitage’s lawyers threatened litigation if the village were to reject the request in three separate instances.
For that reason, the commissioners met in a closed session to discuss the litigation before voting on the extension.
The Roos property was recently appraised at $2.3 million as a residential property and $1.3 million as an industrial property. The costs of that appraisal were split between the village and the park district, as the two parties continue to discuss the possibility of acquiring the building for joint use.
Developer Patrick Wangler has said in the past that his asking price for the property was $3.75 million.
The PUD was originally approved on September 27, 2004 in order to allow Wangler to demolish the current building and construct 132 condominiums in four four-story buildings.
Discussion of Public Works produces no new decisions
At the insistence of Commissioner Patrick Doolin, the village council spent nearly an hour on Monday discussing the status of the village’s Public Works Department after the council’s rejection of Doolin and Commissioner Theresa Steinbach’s proposed department head hiring last month.
“We need to know what you’re going to give us,” said Steinbach to the council’s majority. “It all comes down to the votes, let’s not kid ourselves.”
Mayor Anthony Calderone reiterated his past position, stating that he would like to see interim Public Works Director Bob Kutak take on the job with a current village employee working as his assistant.
Doolin accused the other commissioners of changing their tune to support Kutak despite having expressed opposite viewpoints in the past.
In particular, he said Commissioner Mark Hosty, a former commissioner of Streets and Public Improvement, had said during a closed session meeting in 2003 that “I lost confidence in my department head 18 months before the election.”
Hosty acknowledged that he had problems with Kutak in the past, but questioned the relevance of his feelings two years ago.
Calderone agreed: “We need to focus on what’s today rather than what happened 20 something months ago. I can’t see what good comes out of that other than an attempt at embarrassment.”
Calderone also asked Doolin what exactly was missing from the Public Works Department under Kutak’s watch, to which Doolin responded that though the day to day duties of the department are being handled smoothly, the future is not as certain.
“I think the community is becoming more advanced, more technical and larger…the growth and development will put a strain on old infrastructure,” he said.
Commissioner Tim Gillian questioned whether the proposed candidate, Paul Burris, was the right man for the job. “Throwing money at a problem by hiring a guy with almost entirely water department credentials did not seem like the right move,” he said.
Hosty agreed: “You’re looking for someone who has overseen street replacements and multimillion dollar projects ” doesn’t that describe Bob Kutak?” he asked.
Doolin responded by questioning the quality of projects Kutak has overseen.
In the end, nothing was resolved as each commissioner stood by their past postition.
“I’m not sure that much was really accomplished,” said Calderone.
Also at the meeting
– The council voted 3-2 to approve a variance request from Robert and Debb Hammond, owners of a property located at 310 Marengo. The Hammonds wish to construct a second story addition to an existing coach house in the R-2 district.
The Zoning Board of Appeals voted on September 17 to approve the request.
Commissioners Doolin and Steinbach, who voted against the variance, pointed to parking concerns that would arise from the addition. The ZBA had voted to continue the item until September in April because of similar concerns, and in September proposed a variance to allow the Hammonds to provide only five parking spaces though six are normally required.
“I don’t see the wisdom in continuing to encourage second structure expansion,” said Doolin.
– The council voted unanimously to approve a change to the ordinance authorizing the appointment of a Deputy Village Clerk. Though the past ordinance states that the deputy clerk will only perform the duties of the clerk in the absence of the village clerk, the deputy clerk actually assists the clerk and regularly participates in the operations of the village, according to a memo from Village Administrator Michael Sturino.
The revised ordinance will state that the deputy clerk “shall discharge the functions and duties of the office of municipal clerk as directed by the village clerk.”
– The council recognized the accomplishments of Connie Robey, who received a TRIAD Senior Citizen’s Volunteer Award on Sept. 9 after being nominated by the police department in recognition of over 20 years of service with Forest Park’s Neighborhood Watch program.