EMSL Analytical Inc. has requested a special-use permit to operate an environmental testing lab on Madison Street in River Forest. This facility is not a good fit for River Forest — it poses safety concerns and does not provide much economic benefit.
The Comprehensive Plan for Madison Street focuses on attracting retail and dining businesses, i.e. businesses that encourage residents and our neighbors to spend time and money in River Forest. The proposed facility would not support this vision and would actively work against it, making further development of the area more difficult. The facility could also make the surrounding residential neighborhood less desirable and hurt property values.
In addition, there are safety concerns about a facility that will test asbestos, lead, and “environmental contaminants;” store acetylene gas, argon gas and liquid nitrogen onsite; and vent testing byproducts out the roof.
While the work that EMSL conducts is important, it does not belong in a residential community where there is no margin of error regarding safety. The EMSL lab does not belong in River Forest and the Zoning Board of Appeals should vote “No.”