Zoning change required for outdoor firewood storage at Northwest Hwy & Bryn Mawr
by BRIAN NADIG
A zoning change is being sought to allow outdoor storage at a firewood business which recently relocated to an industrial site at the northwest corner of Northwest Highway and Bryn Mawr Avenue.
Several months ago Chicago Firewood moved to 5600 N. Northwest Hwy., where large stacks of firewood are being stored inside and outside. Previously located at 1301 N. Kingsbury St., the company has been in business for 30 years.
The company has two trucks which are used to deliver firewood to restaurants with wood-burning ovens and other customers, and it also sells firewood on site. Plans call for a portion of the site’s building to be leased out for office space.
Alderman John Arena (45th) held a July 17 community meeting on the proposal to rezone the property from M1-1 to M2-1. The meeting, which a half-dozen people attended, was held at Chicago Firewood.
Arena said that the proposed Type I zoning ordinance would restrict the parcel to the existing facility. “If they start building (something else), they can’t do it,” Arena said, adding that another zoning change would then be required.
Company owner Matthew Heitz said that he was unaware that the site’s existing zoning did not permit outdoor storage when he acquired the parcel, which includes a large storage yard. He said that previous occupants included a cement construction business and a food distributor, which stored pallets of water bottles and other items on the site.
The zoning change would allow for the issuance of a business license, said project attorney Acosta Ezgur.
Two residents at the meeting asked about the source of the firewood, expressing concerns about invasive species which could pose a threat to plants and trees in the area.
Heitz said that much of the wood comes from Wisconsin, with a smaller portion arriving from Michigan, and that he follows U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines.
Typically the wood “comes in full of moisture and sap” and that it takes months to dry out before being sol, Heitz said.
A variety of firewood, including Hickory, Cherry and Oak, is available there.