The Village Council heard a request Monday from the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce to change zoning language to make it much more difficult to open hair and nail salons, tanning spas and beauty and wig stores in Forest Park.

In fact, the chamber asked that the village declare a six month moratorium on any new “personal service” businesses on Madison Street, and reject the license for any beauty supply or wig store in the entire village for six months.

Currently the zoning rule is that personal services businesses cannot operate within 500 feet of each other on Madison. Beauty supply stores are limited to one every 1,000 feet. That averages one per block for the spas and one per three blocks for the supply stores. The chamber requested that zoning be amended to make these rules apply village-wide.

The rule was initially laxly enforced, said Deb Dworman, chamber president. Dworman, and the chamber, assert that a proliferation of personal services businesses detracts from the entertainment and retail flavor of Madison Street, and it’s time to take that concern village-wide.

“A couple of years ago we did a survey and there were between 15 and 17 nail and hair places on Madison between Harlem and Desplaines,” said Dworman. She said there were now eight personal service storefronts in that area. “We also don’t allow office space on the ground floor on Madison Street. We want a healthy diversity of businesses on the street, and now all through Forest Park,” she said. “I fully support this to maintain what we’ve worked so hard to create in terms of a retail community on Madison.”

Dworman is the co-owner of deedee & edee, a women’s clothing shop on Madison Street.

Mayor Anthony Calderone said the chamber was, in part, reacting to a density of salons and beauty stores in Oak Park. Commissioner Mark Hosty said barber shops are cheap to operate, “All you need is a sink and a chair and you’re set.” He said salons do not pay sales tax, because they are services licensed by the State of Illinois.

Macdaddy spa owner Stephanie Neubauer said she agreed with the letter. “I think it’s fair. It works for us on Madison Street, so it will work for the rest of the village.”

But Village Administrator Tim Gillian said he did not think banning one type of business was necessarily the right approach. “I’m not convinced that’s necessary. I think we can accomplish the goal another way,” he said. The village heard the proposal and Gillian will ask the village attorney to draft language to start hearings to change the text of the zoning rules.

Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...