by BRIAN NADIG
The 41st Ward Zoning Advisory Committee at its June 2 meeting unanimously approved a proposal for the opening of a commercial cleaning business at 6538 N. Milwaukee Ave. and heard an update on a proposed Starbucks at 5600 N. Harlem Ave.
For more than 20 years a clothing company operated inside a one-story commercial building on the Milwaukee parcel as a legally nonconforming use under the site’s RT-4 residential zoning, but the cleaning company cannot receive a city business license unless the property is rezoned to C1-1 to allow for storage, according to project attorney Paul Kolpak.
“It’s basically a contractor’s warehouse,” Kolpak said of the proposed use. Cleaning equipment and supplies for the company’s drivers would be stored in the building, and a small number of employees would be working inside during regular business hours, mostly making phone calls and completing paperwork, Kolpak said.
“I don’t see how this use or change in use is going to impact anyone (in the neighborhood),” commitee chairman Mike Emerson said.
Committee member Marc Pelini said that the C1-1 zoning could lead to uses, such as a boarding kennel, which the community may have concerns about if the cleaning business were to close.
The committee approved the rezoning with the stipulation that the property be rezoned to RT-4 after the cleaning businesses is issued its license.
It is not clear why the property has been zoned for residential uses for decades despite its commercial nature. The site is next to a five-story, multi-family living complex at 6520 N. Milwaukee Ave.
It also was reported that the proposal to build a Starbucks with a drive-through facility at the northwest corner of Harlem ad Bryn Mawr avenues will be considered at the Tuesday, June 22, meeting of the City Council Zoning Committee. The meeting is scheduled to start at 10 a.m.
The committee asks that written testimony be e-mailed by 5 p.m. Monday, June 21, to [email protected] or [email protected] Public comments also will be taken at the meeting, and information on how to register to speak at the meeting will be posted at www.chicityclerk.com closer to June 22.
The advisory committee has approved the Starbucks proposal, and Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st) has said that he plans to accept the committee’s recommendation and support the project.
Napolitano’s chief of staff Chris Vittorio said that the proposal has been revised to include the addition of “speed tables,”which are similar to speed humps but longer and flatter, in the parking lot. The recommendation came as a result of the project’s review by several city agencies.
About 580 people have signed an online petition in opposition to the proposal. The petition drive, which is posted at www.change.org, was organized by the Norwood Park Citizens Action Committee.
“The residentially zoned parcel is inappropriate for a commercial use. Further, its location ill-suited to a Starbucks with drive-thru that will result in use of the Harlem Avenue public way for queuing and enabling distracted drivers at an already congested intersection of Bryn Mawr and Harlem adjacent to the Kennedy expressway on-ramp and pedestrian traffic to Blue Line and in close proximity and direct traffic paths to schools, churches, senior living and an area hospital,” the petition states.
Napolitano has said that some residents who live near the site have told him that they are looking forward to walking to a convenient eatery. The parcel has been vacant for more than 40 years.
Under the proposal the property must be rezoned to B3-1 to allow for a restaurant, and a special use for the drive-through facility also is required. The Zoning Board of Appeals could hold a hearing on the special use request this summer.