Alderman supports proposal for homes on vacant parcel
by BRIAN NADIG
Alderman John Arena (45th) is supporting a plan to build two homes on a vacant parcel at 6223-27 W. Gregory St. The street forms a frontage road south of the Kennedy Expressway.
Several residents said at a May 5 community meeting that the project would increase parking congestion in part because of parking restrictions on Gregory, and about 40 people have signed a petition against a proposal to rezone the 6,000-square-foot site from RS-2 to RS-3. Only one house can be built on the property under the existing zoning.
It was reported at the meeting that parking is not permitted on Gregory, but it is allowed on the north side of the street, according to Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh.
"It looks like it is actually legal to park on Gregory on the expressway side, although I’ve never seen anyone park there," Brugh said. "If parking were to become an issue, we could look at shifting that parking to the house side of the street."
Area resident Steve Neidenbach said that drivers would take a risk if they park on that stretch of Gregory due to a curve in the roadway and speeding. "It’s like the expressway, but higher (speeds)," he said. "I would not park my car there."
Parking restrictions on Nagle Avenue to the west also add to the parking congestion on area streets, according to Neidenbach.
Arena said at the meeting that he would talk to city Department of Transportation officials about the feasibility of allowing driveways on Gregory for garages in front of the homes. Plans call for the homes to have two-car garages that would be accessible from the alley.
"We talked to CDOT about front-loading garages, but Gregory takes a turn there, and CDOT was concerned about the garages emptying onto the turn, so we deiced to stay with the garages on the alley, as they are in most of the rest of the city," Brugh said.
The lot is at the point where Gregory curves south to turn into Avondale Avenue.
Both of the two-story, 1,600-square-foot houses would have larger side yards than typically is found in the area, according project attorney Paul Kolpak.
Kolpak said at the meeting that the project would not change the character of the neighborhood. He told residents that except for a few double-lot properties, "99 percent of your homes" could not be built under the prevailing RS-2 zoning in the neighborhood and that the area presumably was downzoned after most of the homes were built.
Residents received notification from Kolpak that his client would file a zoning application with the city earlier this month. The developer also is building a second-floor addition to a house on the block.
Neidenbach said that residents would like Arena and the developer to hold a second community meeting on the proposal.
Arena did not say at the May 5 meeting whether he would support the proposal, but he said that whether or not he decides to support the project, he will attempt to address parking and traffic concerns in the neighborhood.