Amendment offers quicker approvals

A proposed amendment to the zoning code that would allow some property owners to more quickly begin renovation projects received unanimous approval from the zoning board of appeals last month. Commissioner Mike Curry, who oversees the department responsible for enforcing those regulations, is seeking the change.

According to the commissioner, single-family homes and two-flats are often situated near property lines in violation of local regulations. Because of this nonconforming status, a property owner wishing to make changes to the building – with no impact on the footprint of the structure – must get special permission from the zoning board and the village council. This process can be time consuming and costly, Curry said.

Curry’s amendment would still require property owners to obtain municipal approval for their project, but only from the director of the Department of Public Health and Safety. Any work that would expand the building toward the property line would still go through the hearings process.

The village council is expected to weigh in on the proposal in March.

Former consultant pleads guilty

Anthony Bruno, a politically connected consultant and disbarred attorney, pled guilty in federal court to filing a fraudulent tax return in 2001. Bruno, 56, was hired by the Village of Forest Park several years ago to oversee a water project. In 2005, federal prosecutors subpoenaed municipal records detailing Bruno’s relationship with the village.

Bruno also was a consultant to Proviso Township High School District 209, the Town of Cicero and to the Town of Melrose Park.

According to U.S. District Court records, Bruno admitted Feb. 17 that in 2001 he claimed financial losses of more than $100,000 were suffered by his company, Gray and Associates. In their January indictment, prosecutors claimed Bruno knowingly falsified losses in the amounts of $186,485 and $5,502.

Bruno, who ran his business out of Elmhurst, is facing a maximum sentence of two-and-a-half years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced May 28.

Nominate your neighbor

An annual effort to recognize local investments made by property owners and entrepreneurs is once again soliciting nominations for the PRIDE Awards. The contest is sponsored by the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce and Development, and the municipality. This year’s event, the 15th annual, will pay tribute to commercial and residential projects that have had a positive impact on the community. Nominations can be submitted to either the chamber or the village, and should describe how improvements to the property represent an aesthetic or economic value.

Nomination forms are available at village hall, 517 Desplaines, and at the chamber office, 7334 Madison. Winners will be announced May 6 during the chamber’s annual meeting.