Nothing seems to rile up a town quite like zoning laws. At least in Forest Park, that’s the case. At the forum that Citizens United in Forest Park held last March, Steve Glinke, the head of both the Department of Public Health and Safety and the Fire Department joked about starting a reality show about zoning codes. We wish we beat him to the idea! Though engaged homeowners debating various cases of legal non-conforming structures and legal non-conforming uses may not make prime-time TV, it’s certainly an important topic here. And if it did air on television, last night’s meeting could have potentially been the series finale. Though we doubt this issue will ever be completely settled.
If the Village Council did, in fact, approve the new text amendment to the zoning ordinance (this paper went to press before Tuesday night’s meeting), then, in the opinion of Mayor Anthony Calderone, Forest Park can finally put “a matter that’s been lingering a couple years now to rest.” Time will tell.
The amendment calls for equality between single family homeowners and owners of two-flat buildings. We like equality. It calls for fairness by allowing property owners to rebuild their two-flat when more than 50 percent of it has been, God forbid, destroyed in some way or another. And we like fairness, too. Village administrators and concerned residents also appear to finally agree with one another that this reform brings good news across the board.
But as we read through the new amendment, we notice a couple of sections that note that coach houses are excluded in some of the changes. If 50 percent of a coach house burned down, why can’t that, too, be rebuilt as a two-flat could now be rebuilt? Just as we cautioned back in March, this reform process is complex and evolving. The steps about to be taken are positive ones. And though it seems like all the issues have been solved, it’s probably not going to be so easy. Instead of a series finale for our Forest Park Zoning Ordinance reality show, it may have been the suspenseful cliffhanger instead.
Don’t hesitate to call the cops
The Forest Park Police Department, along with WEDGE (West Suburban Directed Gang Enforcement) caught a gang member earlier this month, a young man who was apparently walking around town only in his boxers – while carrying a fully loaded revolver. It was the first arrest made where a person will be prosecuted under a new law clamping down on known gang members possessing a firearm. We obviously appreciate the work of the police officers who had to chase the man and fight him to the ground. But we also want to point out that somebody had tipped off the police about the suspicious looking character in the parking lot, which was the reason the cops went to that spot to begin with. The police department always tells us to never hesitate to call 911 if you are ever feeling uncomfortable. Here’s just another reminder.