Group opposes projects on Harlem
Norwood Park Historical Society president Amara Rozgus sent a letter to Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st) expressing the group’s opposition to the proposed zoning changes for developments at 5600 and 5611 N. Harlem Avenue.
"One of the functions of the NPHS is to advocate for protecting the integrity of Chicago’s Norwood Park community’s historic character, urban form and architectural style," Rozgus said. "NPHS also advocates for public safety and quality of life for our neighbors, property owners and existing local businesses."
Rozgus said that after consulting with the board of directors, the historical society had several concerns about the proposed zoning changes.
Rozgus said the society feels that the auto-oriented nature of both proposed businesses would generate significant new traffic. She said both proposals include commercial driveway entrances along both North Harlem and West Bryn Mawr Avenues within 100 feet of the intersection.
"This is already a busy intersection with multiple vehicle lanes, turning movements and high levels of traffic congestion, much of it entering and exiting the ramps linking Interstate 90 (Kennedy Expressway)," Rozgus said. "Commercial traffic at the corners would exacerbate current congestion."
Rozgus noted the high amount of pedestrian activity at the intersection and along both Harlem and Bryn Mawr avenues, much of it generated from the adjacent CTA Blue Line transit station. She said many pedestrians are either students accessing Taft High School to the east or AMITA Health Resurrection Medical Center Chicago employees to the north.
"We feel that the specific proposed commercial businesses, site designs and associated zoning changes are incompatible with the current community character," Rozgus said.
"Beyond traffic and safety issues, more vehicles will create additional noise and pollution. These also risk becoming a catalyst for similar future patterns of commercial development that would degrade the quality of life for nearby homeowners and could displace existing homes."
Additionally, Rozgus said the proposed car wash business at 5611 N. Harlem is within the Norwood Park Historic District, which has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2002. "We find this proposed use incongruent with the adjacent residential properties, which constitute the defining feature of the district," she said. "Furthermore, Norwood Park is already well-served by an existing local car wash business located at Northwest Highway and Sayre Avenue, as well as a drive-through Starbuck’s Coffee restaurant at Harlem and Northwest Highway. Thus, we find that the existing demand for these types of commercial services is already being met."
Rozgus said the NPHS recognizes the visibility, access, value and potential opportunities inherent in developing these parcels and wants what is best for the community.