ZAB okays four homes in Edison Park
by BRIAN NADIG
The 41st Ward Zoning Advisory Board at its Aug. 5 meeting unanimously approved plans to build four homes on the site of Edison Park Community Church and two homes near Newcastle and Foster avenues, and it conditionally endorsed a proposed Starbucks coffee shop in Norwood Park.
The 20,000-square-foot church property at 6675 N. Oketo Ave. is for sale because the congregation is planning to move to a smaller facility. Plans call for the site to be rezoned from RS-2 to the less restrictive RS-3 because two of the lots would not meet the minimum lot size of 5,000 square feet under the existing zoning.
The two-story homes would have an asking price of about $800,000. "We are not going to have one elevation for four homes," project attorney Paul Kolpak said in response to concerns expressed at a previous meeting.
"People like the architecture in the neighborhood, but they just don’t want to see it four in a row," Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st) said.
The same zoning change also is being sought for a 7,400-square-foot parcel at 5128-32 N. Newcastle Ave., where a 72-year-old house would be demolished. Plans call for the 60-foot lot to be subdivided for two two-story homes, each with a basement.
Two similar 2,500-square-foot homes were constructed at 5134-36 N. Newcastle Ave. after that site was rezoned in 2013, and a resident of the block told the board that those homes are out of character with the neighborhood because they are too large.
"Young people have been coming up here because of the schools," Kolpak said. "People want the bigger houses."
The board also approved the concept of building an 1,800-square-foot Starbuck’s with a drive-through facility at 6340 N. Northwest Hwy., but members said that they would like to see a traffic study for the project before giving their full endorsement of the proposal. A special use permit is required for the drive-through facility.
There is no driveway on the Harlem Avenue side of the 27,000-square-foot vacant parcel, and project developer Lee Wolfson has said that a curb cut on Harlem would be needed in order to attract a national tenant to the site, which is next to Metra railroad tracks. Concerns have been raised that the proximity of a railroad crossing on Harlem could cause traffic on northbound Harlem to back up over the tracks.
The city Department of Transportation conducted a preliminary review of the plans, and officials feel that the project may be feasible if access to a driveway on Harlem were restricted to right turns for both entering and exiting vehicles, Napolitano’s chief of staff Chris Vittorio said. The department also is considering a similar restriction for the driveway on Northwest Highway, Vittorio said.
A resident told the board that all vehicles should be required to exit the site onto Northwest Highway due to the limited amount of space for cars to stack up on Harlem between the tracks and Northwest Highway.
Some board members said that Starbucks would add to traffic congestion on Northwest Highway, where rush-hour backups make it difficult for motorists to make a left turn from the Norwood Park post office, 6300 N. Northwest Hwy.
The board, which makes recommendations to Napolitano on zoning issues, usually meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of the month at the Olympia Park fieldhouse, 6566 N. Avondale Ave.