The Oak Park Zoning Board of Appeals on March 4 agreed to delay ruling on a special use permit and zoning variations needed for a proposed Taco Bell at 6000-20 Roosevelt Rd., until next month after Ampler Development asked to delay the special use hearing in order to obtain additional traffic data.

A special use permit is required because the developer is proposing a drive-thru for the restaurant. But, Ryan Merkel, Ampler’s manager of development, explained that they wanted a complete traffic study, which they had yet to receive.

“We heard there were some additional questions as to the data … that we wanted to address prior to moving forward with the special use permit,” said Merkel.

While Ampler Development requested delaying the public hearing on the special use for the drive-thru, the firm wanted the Zoning Board of Appeals to move ahead with the hearings on the three variances it requested, which puzzled zoning board members.

“It was my understanding that the special use was basically a nonstarter for you guys if you didn’t get it,” said ZBA member David Brumirski. “Why talk about the other stuff if we’re not going to talk about the special use?”

Merkel said he believed the traffic study would not affect the requested variances, so Ampler Development wanted to move forward with them.

However, zoning board members believed the variances and the special use went hand-in-hand and should be addressed at the same meeting.

“I think that the variances that they’ve done are the result of the type of building that they’re putting there, which goes back to special use,” said ZBA member Jim Lencioni. “I think that, basically, if the special use is approved, the variances will go with it.”

The three requested variances involve an increased setback along Roosevelt Road, a reduction in street frontage and a reduction in the number of windows along Roosevelt Road and Humphrey Avenue.

“The importance of knowing the variances, especially for the building location, were they to be approved, are two-fold,” said Mario Valentini, project architect and president of MRV Architects. “If it’s not approved, we go back to the drawing board with the site plan, which we feel would be very difficult.”

Valentini also said that the location of the building affects the site’s geometry, which in turn affects the traffic study.

When Valentini asked the board for feedback on the requested variances, ZBA Chairman Mike Quinn said the request was “kind of beyond the scope of what we can do.”

“Were we to do what you asked us to do, we would basically have to have a hearing on the variances and then come to some conclusion, at the end of which you may come back and say, ‘Can I get a continuance?'” Quinn said.

As a result, the ZBA unanimously voted to continue the hearings to April 1, where it will address both the special use permit and the requested variances. 

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