Enough gifts for Cherryfield
Over the past couple of years, Cherryfield Construction, in the process of building at least half a dozen homes in our community, has received a number of generous gifts from the Village of Forest Park. The gifts were courtesy of Mark Hosty’s building department and now Cherryfields’s owner, Barney O’Reilly is back for another handout.
The house that Cherryfield is building at 7436 Warren Ave. does not comply with the side yard setback requirement as stated in the village building code. The side yard set back law ensures a minimum distance between houses and is very simple to follow. Ten percent of the width of the property is the distance the side of the house should be from each property line, the exception being the eves for the roof. Cherryfield set the foundation for the house at the appropriate distance but designed and built the second story to hang out beyond the first by one foot, thus encroaching on the buffer between neighbors.
How did this happen? There are three players involved here, and all of them should have known what was going on. First and foremost the developer, Barney O’Reilly, should always be aware of all the rules/codes in each town where he is building. If he chooses to not focus his energy on the rules, then he should defer to the second player, his architect.
The architect is a licensed professional whose job is to design according to code. The final player is the staff of the town building department.
These are paid professionals whose job is to properly interpret the codes and laws in relation to the developer’s project. All three of these players should be making a good faith attempt to be legal and above board, thus allowing the process to go smoothly.
What went wrong? In the case of 7436 Warren, the issue basically comes down to the architect’s drawings and the building department staff wrongly approving those construction plans. Jo Ellen Charlton, a consultant hired by the village, examined this case and concluded that the architect’s drawings were potentially misleading and that it is the developer who is ultimately responsible for any mistakes or misrepresentations, regardless of who made them.
Was Cherryfield trying to pull a fast one? One can speculate, as evidence for this calamity can be found in three gifts this developer had previously received from the village. Specifically 909 Ferdinand, 1037 Thomas and 1342 Marengo.
All of these homes are built on small 25 foot lots. In order to meet the demands of the marketplace by providing a decent, roomy, two story home with a garage, and still fit everything on a 3000 square foot lot, something has to be cut. For these homes it was the “front yard” set back that was the victim. Like the sides of the house, the front has to be properly located. In summary, our law says that new construction should be set back the average of 40 percent of the houses that already exist on the block. If followed correctly, legally, these homes with their subterranean garages would have had a backyard consisting of 50 feet of solid, inclined concrete. Not the best place for the kids or the dog to play.
But luck was with Cherryfield because former building department director, Nancy Hill, did not understand the front yard set back law. She allowed Barney to place the homes far, far back on the lots, allowing a nice sized grassy yard out in front and a short driveway out back. It apparently didn’t matter that these monuments to her mistakes make the block look like a pleasant smile missing a tooth.
In October the Zoning Board of Appeals heard the Warren case and voted 6-0 for Cherryfield to fix the house according to the law. However the ZBA is only an advisory body and the Village Council makes the final decision.
One would think it’s a slam-dunk and the Council would accept the ZBA’s recommendation. However, at the October Council meeting, Commissioner Tim Gillian was worried about the financial burden to Cherryfield and said he wanted to know the numbers before he voted. Therefore Gillian recomended tabling the vote until the next Council meeting giving the builder time to figure out the cost of doing the right thing. So now, the very same company that broke the law to begin with, is being allowed to calculate its own loss! I say enough with the gifts. Respect the unanimous vote of the ZBA and make Cherryfield abide by the laws.
Not a referendum supporter yet
Last week’s Review article about issues at the Forest Park Library miscategorized me as a supporter of a referendum to increase the library’s funding. Like most of the people at the library meeting, I firmly believe that a strong library is important not just to our village reputation or property values, but to the health of our society. Last week’s editorial made a strong case for spending more energy working on the future of the library than being concerned with its present woes. But while the editorial asks taxpayers and patrons to move past their mistrust and invest more money in the library, no similar step forward is asked of the board. How realistic is it to expect residents to entrust the board with more money when even the Review uses its pro-referendum editorial to cite the board for several shortcomings? While it may be hard for the board to hear, since they obviously love the library, they need to accept the fact that they may be it’s biggest weakness when a referendum goes before the voters. The board needs to acknowledge its role in the finance and personnel problems facing the library and take steps to reform. If concerns about the library’s leadership can be resolved, I’ll support a referendum enthusiastically, and I’m sure I won’t be the only one.
An expensive oil change
HEADS UP EVERYONE! when you see the new “Consolidated Tire ad for a lube,oil and filter for $14.95” please be aware: you ADD $2.00 for them to dispose of your old oil for you and ADD up to $10 if you car doesn’t take the type of oil they are putting into your car! I have a 2004 Ford Focus – and my bill was A LOT more – even though I submitted the “coupon”. When I inquired why I was told that “your car takes a different kind of oil than we cover in the $14.95 ad”. When I called to make an appointment I wasn’t told that – nor did they ask what model of car I had. Also, they don’t take checks and only certain credit cards are used. Jiffy Lube states in their Coupon that “Synthetic Oil required on some cars will be charged extra!” At least the customer is aware of a possible higher charge.
Trick or Treat on Madison Street a success once again
Another successful Trick or Treat on Madison Street and we owe it all to you – our dedicated merchants, our valuable sponsors and our loyal volunteers.
This year’s event, the 8th annual Trick or Treat on Madison Street brought over 2000 children and adults to downtown Forest Park to trick or treat at over 30 participating merchants along Madison Street while enjoying the beautiful horse-drawn hayrides, music by Aaron Abajian and festive fall treats of taffy apples, hot chocolate and popcorn.
Thank you so much for making the 8th annual Trick or Treat on Madison Street a fun-filled Community event that not only promotes the merchants of downtown Forest Park but also entertains thousands of residents and neighbors.
A special thanks to all our volunteers and sponsors: Our title sponsor, Ferrara Pan Candy Company,
Accents By Fred, At Home With Antiques, Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor, caffe de Luca, Century 21 Better Realty Group, Chix With Stix, Circle Theatre, Doc Ryan’s, Duffy’s Tavern, Fantastic Sam’s, Flavour Cooking School, Forest Foot Care, Forest Park Development, Forest Park National Bank, Francesca’s, Gallery Etc., Healy’s Westside, Jimmy’s Place, Joseph J. Locke & Co., Kazzbarr, Louie’s Grill, My Best Friend Groom and Board, O’Sullivan’s, Park District of Forest Park, Paulson’s Paint, Plan B Gallery, The Prep Kitchen, Quitsch Florist, Reich and Becker Agency, Run Chicago, Sav-Er Groceries, Schauer’s Ace Hardware, Shanahan’s, Shortstop Lounge, Spotless Auto Wash, Inc., Starbuck’s, Team Blonde Jewelry, Trage Bros. Appliances, Two Fish Art Glass, W Financial, Zimmerman/Ehringer/Harnett Funeral Home, 101.9 The Mix and the Village of Forest Park.
Thanks to the following individuals for their help: Joanne Leber, Heather Steger, Christine Malone, Barb and Kelly Crawford, Maureen Martin, Chuck and Deb and Claire Michalak, Sharon Daly, Antonette Consalvi, Kay Madden, GiGi Alfano, Nancy Bower, Sylvia DeSonia, Bill McKenzie, Joe Locke, Glen Garlisch, James Robinson, Matt Brown, Art Sundry, Jayne Ertel, Ann White, Grace Seuffert, Annie Hartmann, Elizabeth Aranha, Rebecca Woerner, Steven Kruzel, Pat Harrington, Brendan Frainey, Camille Boden, Brittany Bindon, Jimmy Jodoin, Artie Sundry, Bridget Hurley, Shar Nahid and Betsy Walsh.