At the urging of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce, the village government will wade further into the thicket of selective retail zoning with wig shops, beauty supply stores and hair salons/barber shops as the targets.
On the table is a suggested six-month moratorium on issuing business licenses for salons on Madison and wig shops anywhere in town. That interregnum would presumably be used to further tighten current zoning regs, which limit but do not exclude such businesses.
In its proposal to the village council Monday, the chamber said the proliferation of these service businesses threatens to choke the entertainment and retail vitality of Madison Street and to limit the upside of improvements to Roosevelt Road.
We get the point, but we’ll side with Village Administrator Tim Gillian who urged some caution Monday evening in how to approach the issue. Gillian has some experience with dueling beauty shops, having stepped into his administrator’s post in the middle of a battle over personal services offered by Team Blonde, a longtime retailer on Madison. In that instance, Gillian cut the baby neatly in half and brought a nuanced solution to a delicate matter. We will give Gillian and the village attorney a little time to shape the language in the zoning laws to tackle the underlying concern.
Two other points: Mayor Anthony Calderone said Monday the Chamber’s concern is a response, in part, to a ramp-up of beauty supply stores on Madison Street in neighboring Oak Park. We think he’s right and that Forest Park’s pro-active initiative on the topic is the right course. Oak Park, which is considering spending millions on fancifying the streetscape on Madison, is missing the boat as it allows the street to be swamped by hair and wig businesses.
Finally, this conversation cannot be had without acknowledging its racial aspects. The targeted businesses are all oriented to an African-American clientele. That’s true. That’s complicating. And it needs to be part of the discussion.