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2002-10-15
Chicago, IL. City Politics & Home Depot: No Done Deal, Say Residents.

Local residents on the Northwest side of Chicago say city politics is playing a role in the mounting pressure to accept a Home Depot in their community. Here's a report from the scene: "Home Depot is trying to put up another store at Addison and Kimball on Chicago's Northwest side. (3600 North) They just opened up a store a couple of miles south at 2500 North Elston. They also have another store 2 miles south of there at North Avenue east of Elston.
The city says it's a done deal, but the Irving Park Neighbors association is fighting this. The lot in question used to be a paper factory, it has been abandoned for over a decade. The neighbors voted an overwhelming 90 percent on an election day referendum, in Nov 2000, to have it rezoned to non- commercial non-industrial. This land sits behind a K-Mart already.In 1999 the Chicago Planning comission gave the Addison/Kimball intersection a D+ for a traffic grade. The neighborhood is terribly congested, sidewalks crowded and dangerous. There is also heavy traffic for 82 Chicago Cubs baseball games per year. Why would they say it's ok now? The study also concluded that commercial uses were not appropriate on this site and these are a matter of public record.Not only will the residents have to put up with traffic snarls, safety, extended hours, and litter, but local businesses will be greatly impacted, including a family owned Ace Hardware and a local paint store that has been in business for generations. Elston Avenue is an industrial corridor so plumbing suppliers and other merchants would be hit as well.Alderman Richard Mell was supporting the neighbors for years. We had a developer that wanted to put up beautiful residential housing and a public park. We also had a school and a library interested, both shot down by the mayor. The mayor is friends with the developer that owns the land. After the elections, Alderman Mell sent a letter to the Mayor saying he was dropping his stance for non commercial, he is leaving it with the planning department to figure it out. Funny enough, Mayor Daley gave public support for Mell's son-in-law, Rod Blagoevich, in his campaign for Illinois Governor 3 days later. Daley did not support a candidate during the Primary. The Irving Park Neighbors association went to a neighborhood meeting with the Mayor to speak on the issues. When our member stood up and explained the issue, the Mayor looked at him and said "What do you want me to do, I just got here" He berated our members until we sat down.Shortly thereafter, the Mayor redrew all the Aldermanic Wards in our area -- and Richard Mell is supposedly no longer our Alderman. The new one is Vilma Colom. When you call either office to talk about the Home Depot issue, they refer you to the other office. They basically give you the run around. The neighbors had a rally with the Save our City Coalition last month. 130 people showed up, including local business owners to garner support. We also had a rally at Home Depot's Elston store with 40 family's (in the rain and all) There is another rally scheduled at their North Avenue store on Sat 8/25, to let their customers know what they are up to. We also had a rally at City Hall, downtown Chicago last Wednesday, that garnered a lot of media attention.The jury is out on the latest traffic study which is happening now. This battle is not over."

What you can do: Developmemt and government: all zoning is local. In N.W. Chicago, the only people being left out of neighborhood planning is the neighborhood. For more details on this battle to prevent the over-saturation of Home Depot stores, contact Dave Markovits at davemis@yahoo.com.










 
 
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