Construction is seen going out at the building where Associated Tire and Battery was location on Monday, June 14, on Roosevelt Road and Lombard Avenue in Oak Park. | Alex Rogals

The Oak Park village board denied a special use request to operate a custom vehicle upholstery business at 6212 Roosevelt Rd., a portion of the former Associated Tire & Battery property. The denial delighted neighbors who have been beleaguered by noise and clogged alleys for well over a year.

“We are very happy that the trustees finally heard our concerns and made the right decision to enforce their own rules. We are especially grateful to the trustees and village staff that took the time to meet with us and see for themselves the issues we’ve been dealing with,” said Katie Ingrao-Sniegowski, who helped to coordinate neighbors’ efforts.

The board unanimously denied the special use permit at its Nov. 8 meeting. The vote was a bit unexpected as the board has been hard to read regarding the application and the nuisances affecting the neighborhood.

Related Stories

“I was shocked that it was unanimous. It shows me that they didn’t take this lightly,” said a neighbor who lives on the north end of Lombard Avenue and wished to remain anonymous.

 The applicant, Jeremy Storey, had won a positive recommendation from the Zoning Board of Appeals, after convincing the commission his business was not responsible for the extreme noise and blocked alleys. The property has been split into three units to accommodate multiple tenants. Storey told the ZBA that it was the fault of one of the other tenants.

That tenant was later identified as Brian Kamar, who had been using the property to store vehicles, which is against the zoning code. He was ordered to remove those vehicles from the property. Kamar did not return Wednesday Journal’s request for comment.

The mysterious third tenant has been identified only as “Tony.” Tony, according to the unnamed neighbor, restores cars. 

“That’s all he does,” said the neighbor.

Both Kamar and Tony have been polite and receptive to the neighbors’ concerns, even apologizing for any of the noise they have caused, the neighbor said.

At the time Storey went before the ZBA, village staff had recommended Storey be granted a special use permit to operate his business, BM Custom. Staff reversed its stance after it was found that Storey had been operating his business without the permit and had been cited several times, for which he was fined $600. Neighbors also told the village board he had been playing loud music at all hours and had gotten aggressive when confronted. The fear of retribution made neighbors wary of speaking publicly. Storey maintained that he was not causing the disturbances.

The village board was made aware of these developments at its Oct. 17 meeting, but still tabled voting on the issue, requesting more information. In the weeks leading up to the vote, neighbors spoke with trustees, some of whom went to examine the property for themselves. Wednesday Journal has also gone to the property several times to try to speak with Storey without success.

“I probably made many trips over in the last few weeks and the general impression I get is that the nuisance is coming from 6212 [Roosevelt Rd.],” said Trustee Jim Taglia.

During one of his trips, Taglia told the board, music was being played so loudly at Storey’s workshop that it made the windows of Taglia’s car vibrate. In emails to the village board, the neighbors used such words as “mayhem,” “terror,” “misery,” and “suffering” to describe the situation, according to Taglia.

Without a permit, BM Custom is essentially no longer a business. Storey will have to cease operations completely. Whether he will have to leave the premises is up to the building owner. He does have the opportunity to file a new application, but there is a two-year waiting period.

Storey addressed the village board after the vote had been taken. He denied acting hostilely toward neighbors and stated that none had ever tried to speak with him.

This was disputed by the unnamed neighbor to Wednesday Journal.

“What he doesn’t realize is we’ve tried, and he was aggressive with us,” she said. “There’s so much negativity coming from him that he’s rendered himself unapproachable, sadly.”

Still, the neighbor is not without sympathy for Storey, who will have to reconsider the future of his business.

“I think he had a space that he liked and probably was making him money,” she said. “And I feel sad about that.”

Join the discussion on social media!