Proposed mosque, taxicabs 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.
Association members reported that residents of 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.
Plans for the project were presented at a community meeting in 2014, but an application for a special use to permit religious assembly in a commercial district was not filed with the city Zoning Board of Appeals at that time. It is not known if the proposal has been changed since that meeting.
Under the 2014 proposal, the mosque would be located in an existing commercial building on a triangular parcel that is bordered on all three sides by alleys in the interior of the site bounded by Lawrence, Elston and Kentucky avenues.
The site for the proposed mosque is bordered by homes on Kentucky and by commercial buildings on Lawrence and on Elston, including a former auto body shop at 4860 N. Elston Ave. that would house the community center.
Residents who live on Kentucky have expressed concern that the mosque would increase both vehicular and pedestrian traffic in the alleys since it would have no direct access to a street. The community center would have a 37-space parking lot that would be entered from Elston.
Project officials have said that the main pedestrian entrance to the mosque would face Elston in an effort keep visitors from using the alley behind the homes on Kentucky.
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."
Also at the meeting, association president Ron Duplack reported that Dispatch Taxi Affiliation, 4536 N. Elston Ave., recently began parking up to about 50 of its cabs in a parking lot at 4741 N. Elston Ave., which for years had been underutilized. "Everyone is pretty happy," Duplack said. "It has freed up a lot of spaces on Elston."
Galvan said that Laurino asked Dispatch to secure additional off-street parking for the company’s vehicles due to complaints by residents about a high number of cabs being parked on Elston.
Several residents also expressed concern about semi-trailer trucks hitting trees and sideswiping parked cars due to the narrowness of the side streets in Mayfair.
Instead of heading west to Cicero Avenue after they exit the Edens Expressway at Wilson Avenue, many truck drivers travel east through the neighborhood in search of a shortcut or to avoid low viaduct clearances on Cicero, according to the residents, who called for better signs warning truck drivers of load restrictions on the side streets.