Association circulates petition against 13-story development


The opening of a petition drive against a planned 13-story building highlighted the May 25 meeting of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association.

Association Zoning Committee chairwoman Colleen Murphy distributed copies of a petition against a proposal to rezone a 25,000-square-foot parcel at the northeast corner of Lipps Avenue and Ainslie Street, next to the Jefferson Park CTA terminal. The site is being used as a parking lot for the 10-story Veterans Square office building, 4849 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Several people at the meeting signed the petition, although one member spoke in favor of the 103 apartments that the building would have. The man read a news article that said that young professionals want to live near the CTA Blue Line in affordable neighborhoods.

The plan for the project also calls for a 250-space parking garage and ground-floor commercial space. Representatives of the developer the Mega Group have said that it would be difficult to attract retailers to the building because the stores would not be visible from an arterial street. The association has a policy of opposing projects that call for upzoning.

However, association officials have said that the zoning of the site, which is intended for manufacturing, is not favorable for the redevelopment and that they would support a business classification that would restrict the height of a building to 50 feet. The proposed building would be 168 feet tall.

Alderman John Arena (45th) has expressed support for the project because it would increase density near a transit hub and provide parking for the 1,900-seat theater at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave.

Also at the meeting, the association gave out lawn signs which oppose a proposal to build a four-story, 48-unit apartment complex on a vacant lot at the northeast corner of Long Avenue and Argyle Street. The signs will replace signs that were stolen from lawns in December, Murphy said.

Association president Robert Bank reported the group has formed a Political Accountability Committee, which is seeking clarification from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office on whether Arena’s advisory committee meetings should be open to the public. The Illinois Open Meetings Act covers advisory bodies, but an aldermanic aide has said that the committee, which makes recommendations to Arena on zoning issues, meets on an ad hoc basis and is not covered by the law because it is advising an elected official, not a government body.

The meeting also featured a presentation by Cook County Forest Preserve District naturalist Irene Flebbe on gardening. Flebbe said that gardening should be fun, and she recommended planting native, low-maintenance shrubs to fill some of the space for large gardens.

The next association meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 29, at the Congregational Church of Jefferson Park, 5320 W. Giddings St. The guest speaker at the meeting will be John Kane of the Fair Allocation In Runways Coalition, a group that was formed to oppose the increase in jet noise on the Northwest Side.