I urge River Forest officials to vote against the zoning variance requested by EMSL Analytical Inc. Aside from environmental concerns, allowing this business to operate at a major entry into River Forest signals the village’s defeat in creatively developing this section of Madison Street. While our neighbors in Oak Park, Elmwood Park and Forest Park have found ways to beautify their towns and develop businesses that provide shopping, dining and residential opportunities, this part of River Forest remains ugly, unused and blighted.
According to River Forest’s own comprehensive plan, the objectives for Madison Street include retail, restaurants and offices. It is hard to imagine a retailer, office or restaurant seeking space next to a lab that tests lead, asbestos, anthrax and “other environmental contaminants.” River Forest’s own planning firm has stated that a “proposed testing facility does not support the village’s efforts to transform this section of Madison Street into a retail/restaurant/mixed-use area.” There is no apparent tax or revenue gain that might be considered an offset to the village’s vision.
It is easy to understand why the vast majority of River Forest residents oppose this business. EMSL Analytical Inc. is an environmental hazard, brings no revenue to the village, is contrary to the advice of the village’s planning firm, effectively stops other creative development for this area, and River Forest citizens oppose the special permit.
Where’s the win?