Zoning for mosque, taxi parking on Elston discussed at Mayfair meeting




by BRIAN NADIG

A proposed mosque and a reported reduction in the number of parked taxicabs on Elston Avenue were discussed at the Feb. 11 meeting of the Mayfair Civic Association.

Residents reported that home owners in the 4800 block of North Kentucky Avenue recently received notifications that a zoning application for a proposal to open a mosque and community center near Elston and Lawrence avenues would be filed with the city.

At a community meeting in 2014, plans for the project were presented, but an application for a special use to permit religious assembly in a commercial district was not filed at the time with the city Zoning Board of Appeals. It is not known if the proposal has been changed since that meeting.

Under the 2014 proposal, the mosque would be located inside an existing commercial building on a triangular-shaped parcel that is bordered on all three sides by an alley.

Across from the alley facing Kentucky are eight bungalows, while across from the alley facing Elston is a former auto body shop at 4860 N. Elston Ave. which would house the community center. The alley facing Lawrence is across from several commercial buildings.

Residents who live on Kentucky have expressed concern that the project would increase both vehicular and pedestrian traffic in the alleys since the mosque would be landlocked, with no direct access to a street. The community center would have a 37-space parking lot which would be accessible from Elston.

Project officials have said that the main pedestrian entrance to the mosque would be face Elston in an effort keep visitors from walking in the alley behind the bungalows.

Alderman Margaret Laurino’s spokesman Manuel Galvan said that the alderman plans to discuss the project with the association officials and that a public hearing on the proposal is “months away.”

Meanwhile, association president Ron Duplack reported that Dispatch Taxi Affiliation, 4536 N. Elston Ave., recently began parking up to about 50 of its taxicabs in a parking lot at 4741 N. Elston Ave., which for years had been underutilized. “Everyone is pretty happy. It has freed up a lot of spaces on Elston,” Duplack said.

Galvan said that Laurino had asked Dispatch to secure additional off-street parking for the company’s vehicles due to residents’ complaints about a high number of taxicabs being parked on Elston.

Also at the meeting, several residents expressed concern about semi-trucks that are hitting trees and side-swiping parked cars due to the narrowness of the side streets in Mayfair.

Instead of heading west to Cicero Avenue when they exit the Edens Expressway at Wilson Avenue, too many truck drivers are traveling east through the neighborhood in search of a shortcut or to avoid the low viaduct clearances on Cicero, according to the residents. The residents called for better signage warning truck drivers of load restrictions on the side streets.

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