It has been a bumpy ride for Peggy Bernar since she opened a boutique dog kennel on one of Forest Park’s most visible corners – and the store owner said recently it will be a short one.
The Spot, which opened in January, is moving out of Forest Park after having just survived a contentious zoning dispute that saw the village’s permitting office accuse Bernar of lying to obtain a municipal license. Elected officials ultimately sided with the upstart entrepreneur and amended municipal regulations to allow an overnight boarding facility in the downtown area. Mayor Anthony Calderone pointed to a groundswell of support for Bernar’s endeavor in swaying his vote.
The building also hosts residential condos and a restaurant.
It is Bernar’s neighbors, however, who will force her out of the storefront at Circle and Madison. Complaints about noise at The Spot prompted Robert Marani, who developed the property and owns the neighboring restaurant, to invoke a condo association clause that prohibits housing animals for commercial purposes.
“It’s pretty obnoxious when dogs bark all day long when you’re in your living room or in your place of business,” Marani said.
The storefront Bernar leases is owned by Heidi Vance and Jayne Ertel, who run their own business, Team Blonde, a few blocks west on Madison. Previously, the location was home to Team Blonde. Vance and Ertel said it was an oversight that no one recognized the restriction on animals.
The two lobbied hard for Bernar’s business when it was threatened by municipal regulations.
An advertisement to find a tenant for the property was posted by Craigslist.com May 18. Vance said they do not have a firm date by which Bernar must vacate the storefront.
Bernar said she is negotiating to move her business, possibly to Berwyn. However, she estimated she would not close her Forest Park location until the end of June, perhaps later. She said it was April or May when she was informed of the condo association rule.
“I was outraged, I was very upset,” Bernar said. “I just got settled in after the zoning issue and I got this thrown at me, and now I have to leave.”
Business has been growing steadily, said Bernar, and she’s disappointed to be leaving the tri-village area because most of her clients live in Forest Park, Oak Park and River Forest. During a recent week, she had more than 20 pets staying at The Spot. Bernar said she’s negotiating to purchase her next location and hopes to find a larger space.
“It’s actually good that it happened because I’m going to be able to expand,” Bernar said.