Traffic-stressed alley doesn't need a bank drive-thru

Opinion

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We are residents of the 800 block of South Grove Avenue and share the concerns of many homeowners on this block affected by the special use permit recently submitted to the village Zoning Board by the Community Bank of Oak Park-River Forest. This bank has requested a special use permit to authorize the use of our alley as the only access to their proposed drive-up banking facility, including a 24-hour ATM.

The west side of this alley is comprised almost entirely of single-family homes that require access to their garages. The addition of a drive-up banking facility that is using an alley as its driveway will limit entry and exit from residential garages and increase traffic flow through the alley. The alley already has heavy use?#34;in particular, by semi-trucks needing to make deliveries to the Avenue Ale House at the south end. Often, delivery trucks remain in the alley for extended periods of time, thereby blocking garages in that location as well as blocking access to Harrison Street at the south end of the alley. This requires residents who can leave their garages to back out of the alley via the north end onto Van Buren Street. In addition, many larger semi-trucks cannot make the turn onto Harrison Street at the south end of the alley. Therefore, they too, must back out of the alley at the north end onto Van Buren Street. The addition of a drive-up banking facility near the north end of the alley will only exacerbate the existing congested traffic pattern, making it more difficult for residents to enter and exit the alley.

It should also be noted that construction plans for the new banking facility place the drive-thru within 20 feet of residential properties. This will have a detrimental effect upon our environmental quality due to the increased noise and pollution from traffic. Of equal concern is the question of how residents near the proposed bank will be able to exit their garages. Since the village does not allow us to park on the street overnight, we must be allowed to utilize our garages via the alley.

The alley is narrow and does not support two-way traffic. Our two-car garage is directly behind the planned drive-thru facility, and we require the full width of the alley in order to back out our cars. An additional concern unique to our family is the infringement of our ability to safely unload our son from our adapted van at the back of our house at times when front access from Grove Avenue is blocked due to construction, tree trimming/removal or other circumstances. This would become an extremely difficult, if not impossible task given the location of the proposed drive-thru bank and the increased flow of traffic it would create.

We feel that there are more suitable locations in Oak Park for a drive-through banking facility than our alley, which is already stressed from traffic and congestion. We urge the Zoning Board to deny the special use permit for 809 S. Oak Park Ave., and recommend that the Community Bank explore other locations that have a less detrimental impact upon residential properties.

Vince and Debbie Bray
Oak Park

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