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Lemont Village Board debates rezoning residential property on State Street

LEMONT – Residents and some Lemont Village Board members expressed concern about the possibility of a business moving into the 600 block of State Street during the Village Board meeting Dec. 16.

Property owner John Ross has applied for B-1 zoning for his property, at 604-06 State Street, between East Custer and East Logan streets.

The rezoning would allow for business use on the property, which is currently zoned for residential preservation and infill development.

According to the board agenda, the property consists of a single family home at the 604 address, an empty commercial space at the 606 address and a 12-space parking lot currently being used for overflow from St. Alphonsus Church.

The proposed new tenant would be J-Stack HVAC, a heating and air conditioning business owned by Lemont resident Jeff Stachovic.

According to the agenda, the property received a special use permit in 2004 to allow a mortgage brokerage to operate out of the space.

However, the permit expired because the business space has been vacant for too long, and the special use permit is no longer offered by the village. Under the current Unified Development Ordinance, the property cannot be zoned for mixed use.

During a public hearing at a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Nov. 20, Ross, who purchased the property 10 years ago, said it has been used for business since the 1950s and was previously home to a bakery and beauty shop.

During the Dec. 16 meeting, Ross reiterated his need to make use of the empty space, on which he currently pays taxes.

"If it's not Jeff, I need to get somebody else," he said.

At the meeting, some neighbors of the property argued against allowing its rezoning.

Carol Newton said her main concern is the use of an alley adjacent to both their properties.

She said the road surface in the alley is in poor condition and could get worse if vans from the HVAC business frequently use it.

She also said that when a vehicle is stopped in the alley, it blocks her car from leaving her garage.

There was also concern that the rezoning would allow for future commercial development, conflicting with an area of Lemont comprised mostly of older houses.

Trustee Ron Stapleton said once the business zoning is allowed, there would be nothing stopping the property owner from tearing down the house to construct a new commercial building.

"There's no way to tell me that commercial zoning isn't going to affect everybody around them," he said.

Lemont Mayor Brian Reaves said he understands the complexity of helping a property owner to make use of a vacant space while protecting the interests of nearby residents.

He said village officials would consult with legal counsel to determine the options for allowing a business to move into the property while maintaining the residential character of the block.

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