The River Forest Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday night denied an appeal that challenged a village administrative ruling regarding development plans for the property at 620 Franklin Ave.

Because the appeal regarded an administrative decision by village staff, the ZBA’s ruling was final. The only recourse the appellants–neighbors Thomas Gibbs and Mark Kleinkopf–have is to file suit in Cook County Court.

Barring such a lawsuit, the ZBA’s action clears the way for the heirs of the property to sell it to a developer, who intends to tear down the existing 110-year-old house that sits on two properties, and build two single-family homes on each 50-foot parcel.

Board members Frederick Heiss and Gerald Mannix voted to uphold the appeal, stating that the basic purpose of the ordinance was to preserve the character of the block and mitigate against such teardowns and redevelopment.

However, board member Tagger O’Brien spoke for the ZBA majority when she cast the decisive fourth vote and said that she believed the issue was clear.

“It is the owner’s right and it is in the zoning code, despite the emotions that have surrounded this whole issue,” O’Brien said.

Both Gibbs and Kleinkopf said they would take a few days before deciding whether to take their appeal to Cook County Chancery Court.

Regardless whether the village could take any action on the decision, Kleinkopf, who insisted afterwards that the village is continuing to misinterpret its own code, vowed to take his argument before the board this Monday.

“I’m not a zoning expert, but I can read,” Kleinkopf said. “I’m OK with the facts of the case. I’m OK with the zoning code. What I’m not OK with is people who don’t know the code, who are voting on the code.”

For more details on this story, see the August 16 issue of Wednesday Journal.

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