Public hearing on 5150 N. Northwest Hwy delayed again
by BRIAN NADIG
The City Council Zoning Committee will not hear the proposed zoning for a storage facility and housing development at 5150 N. Northwest Highway at its Tuesday, May 9, meeting and will instead hold a special meeting on the plan.
A date for the special meeting will be announced next week.
Alderman John Arena (45th) announced on Friday that he plans to meet with local organizations who oppose the project prior to the committee’s special meeting.
The committee held a 3-hour hearing on the proposal in March but never voted on the project because of a lack of a quorum and concerns about a settlement agreement, which requires Arena and zoning administrator Patricia Scuderio to support the zoning change. The agreement was in response to a lawsuit which the site’s developer filed last year after Arena had the property downzoned to stop plans to build only a self storage facility there.
Arena supports a plan to build a 100-unit apartment building next to the storage facility. The building would include at least 20 Chicago Housing Authority-subsidized units and 60 affordable housing units.
Arena said that opposition to the building is being fueled by “a desire to keep people from certain backgrounds out of our area.” The Service Employees International Union is one of the key supporters of the project, along with Neighbors for Affordable Housing in Jefferson Park.
In a letter to committee chairman Alderman Danny Solis (25th), representatives of local neighborhood and business groups charged that Arena “wants to make this about race and his misconception that we oppose affordable housing . Again, this could not be further from the truth.” Those groups, including the Jefferson Park and Gladstone Park neighborhood associations and chambers, have said that the issues are height, density, school overcrowding and a lack of transparency, as city officials agreed to the zoning change as part of a settlement agreement before gathering any feedback from the community.