In the weeks following Tim Gillian’s hire as the village administrator, he fast tracked a review of the downtown zoning regulations and asked business owners to provide their input. That process ended in mid December with the council’s approval of a few changes to the regulations, but lo and behold, there was an immediate challenge to the rules.
Team Blonde, run by two energetic and credible women who’ve done much to help Madison Street grow, have long offered salon and spa services to supplement their retail sales. Problem is, they don’t have a permit. They’re also within 500 feet of other salons – a no-no according to the zoning regulations – and so shouldn’t be given a permit.
For too, too long, permitting regulations in Forest Park have not been enforced in an open and honest way. Insiders have been given favor. Decisions have been marred by a shameful lack of disclosure.
The administrative decision by Gillian and Village Clerk Vanessa Moritz to deny the permit to Team Blonde is the right decision, though Gillian is among the first to say that it was a tough one. Heidi Vance and Jayne Ertel, who own Team Blonde, have earned the respect of everyone who keeps an eye on the business community in Forest Park. This decision, according to the women, could very well force them under.
Because of their role in the community, shouldn’t they get a break?
And here’s where we see the real beauty of making good administrative decisions. The appeals process available to Team Blonde goes to the village council, which means any further discussion on the pros and cons of making them an exception to the rule can be discussed openly and in front of the public. No private meetings or quiet phone calls that shut the public out and leave everyone wondering how decisions are actually made in this town.
Clandestine debate that circumvents the administrative process has bred mistrust in Forest Park, but village hall can take an enormous step in the right direction. If Team Blonde asks the council for an exemption to the zoning regulations, and the public is allowed to understand the complex issues at play, this newspaper would support whatever decision is reached by the elected officials.