The idea to enact a development moratorium in Oak Park fell flat last week before the village board, seeming to have been taken more seriously by business and property owners than by trustees who first included it on a list of talking points.

The board did give preliminary OKs to three zoning issues, sending them to the Plan Commission for further review.

Two measures will need public hearings, a requisite of any proposed change in zoning laws. Those measures include limiting building heights on Lake Street from Harlem Avenue east to Forest Avenue to 80 feet?#34;roughly the height of the Marshall Field’s building at the northeast corner of Harlem and Lake, home on its ground floor to Borders. The height limit was envisioned in the Greater Downtown Master Plan recently completed by the Portland, Ore., firm of Crandall Arambula.

Also, the law would be amended so that mixed-use buildings?#34;usually first-floor retail with residential spaces above?#34;would not be required to have yard setbacks in business or commercial districts.

That will help with a common misperception when a proposed mixed-use development comes before the Plan Commission, said John Schiess, an Oak Park architect who works for the developer Alex Troyanovsky. When people see that seven allowances are requested it doesn’t show the true picture if four of those allowances are for residential setbacks, he said.

The proposed changes also call for reducing the minimum lot size for a mixed-use development, which has the ancillary effect of allowing up to three additional residential units in projects, something Schiess said won’t affect the way he designs buildings.

“Parking rules us,” he said, adding that marketing requirements?#34;not zoning requirements?#34;limit his designs to the number of parking spaces per unit he can fit on a property.

A third measure?#34;to change the height limits in all business and commercial districts?#34;was also forwarded to the Plan Commission for discussion.

Village Planner Craig Failor, the staff liaison to the Plan Commission, said the measures would not come before the commission for at least a month.

More than a dozen people stood up to speak against the moratorium, many using strong language to do so.

“A moratorium would kill everything, and that is what the word exactly means,” said Dennis Marani, president of the Madison Street Business Association and owner of Marani’s Lawn and Garden Center .

Morris Seeskin, of the 1000 block of South Kenilworth, said the effects of a moratorium had already been caused in the board’s consideration and discussion of it, and that it swiftly needed to be set aside.

“You will literally kill this village while you drag it out.”

The idea for a moratorium was first broached by Neighbors for Madison Renewal, a group of residents living on residential blocks of side streets just west of Oak Park Avenue on Madison. The group put the idea on its web site, but as of last week had cooled to the idea.

“We’re neutral for now,” said Jon Aronoff, speaking on behalf of the group.

Wednesday Journal reported in August that even Trustee Robert Milstein, who called for the discussion of the moratorium, doubted the move would be necessary. Trustee Elizabeth Brady said the board could have better communicated its intentions and level of interest in a moratorium, as the measure never had significant support on the board.

Speaking for a moratorium was Bamshad Mobasher, a Madison neighbor. Development decisions should not be made just between developers and community groups. “This is something the village needs to address as a whole,” he said, adding that a moratorium would allow the village time to consider how development is affecting a central tenant in Oak Park?#34;diversity.


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