(Editor’s note: The letter writer makes a fair point about the lack of voices of neighbors adjacent to the Crystal Car Wash on Harlem. In his column today on page 3, John Rice interviews a neighbor who expresses her concerns over the noise generated.)
Your paper typically seems to cover both sides of a story so I was distressed to read about the constant nuisance violations the Village of Forest Park allows the Crystal Car Wash at 901 S. Harlem to impose on our neighborhood. Not one resident was contacted or interviewed to provide our perspective on this issue. I am writing to represent the views of Concerned Citizens for Code Compliance (CC4CC). We are a group of residents impacted by the constant noise and increased traffic this business has created and we are despondent over the lack of response from our village.
The article makes a point of the investment made on the business property as an improvement to the neighborhood. We learn from your article that businesses are not required to comply with village codes put in place after they existed. Residents have also committed substantial investments in our homes and we comply with every village ordinance regardless of when it was put in place.
The article informs us of a future Zoning Board Meeting for their expansion across the street but we were never informed of any such meeting regarding the substantial changes made to the car wash made by the new owner. Our FOIA requests demonstrate no Zoning Board Meeting was held allowing them to increase the number of vacuums from 3 to 24 and place over half of them along the residents’ side with no sound barrier or abatement material on the now much taller building. Allowing an additional 150 feet of access and increased hours 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. 365 days a year with free vacuums advertised by a lighted sign has increased traffic in our alley by hundreds of cars a day. No sound test or traffic studies were performed. Yet it is because of these changes that the business now routinely violates every section of the nuisance code. Why didn’t the village at least make them build a wall around the property like in every other community where these businesses exist?
The article quotes a village official stating the business owner and the neighbors should work it out on our own. What does that mean? How exactly does that work? What does the village suggest a group of aggrieved citizens do on our own to obtain compliance to codes the officials wrote and approved? What leverage or authority do neighbors have to make them comply? To suggest that residents take matters into their own hands is absurd. Are we supposed offer a bribe or pay the Crystal Car Wash to comply? Do we blare speakers to play music louder than their customers do? Do we obtain 150 feet of property next door to Neil Rembos’ home with a big sign so people who come for free stuff can urinate on his property?
Since the village official mentioned does not reply to any of my emails perhaps your paper could find out what he means by that statement and then inform us of what we can do to enforce the village nuisance code on a non-compliant business.
Mark Denny, Forest Park