ELMHURST – The Development Planning and Zoning Committee was split Monday on the height of the proposed Addison Parking Deck, and agreed to continue discussion April 14.
A handful of residents criticized the project and the city's process for reviewing it. Tamara Brenner, one of two residents who were asked to wrap up their testimony during the Zoning and Planning Commission's public hearing, criticized the commission for not discussing portions of her testimony that challenged the city consultant's parking study.
"If they don't consider the information that's brought before them, what is the purpose of having a public hearing?" Brenner asked.
Elmhurst resident Michael Krumrey agreed that the parking study overestimated the amount of parking needed by using ratios of parking spaces to square feet of development that were larger than those used in other towns. He also said the study focused on time windows when parking is most in demand instead of looking to meet the average demand for parking throughout the day.
"Do we build 12-lane highways to support the volume of traffic for Chicago-area morning and evening rush hours? Of course not." Krumrey said.
Resident Claude Pagacz didn't believe a parking garage would drive more businesses into downtown and questioned why the parking garage was such a large priority for the city.
"There are a lot more important things in this town than that garage," said Pagacz, mentioning flooding.
Brenner also noted the absence of any members of the business community at the DPZ committee meeting.
"They know that they already have their votes," Brenner said.
Fifth Ward Alderman and DPZ Committee Chairman Scott Levin said he wasn't sure why business people did not attend the meeting, but the proposed six-story parking garage still needs to pass committee and then the City Council.
He also expressed his concern about how to proceed as a committee since the council voted to apply for the six-story building and associated variances.
"In terms of our role as a committee, I struggle with the idea that we can act other than what the will of the council is," Levin said.
Committee members agreed they could submit whatever report they saw fit, regardless of the council's previous votes on the matter.
Committee members differed on what would be an appropriate height for the structure.
"If you want my opinion, I think that the study that was formed took the extreme of parking," Levin said.
Dannee Polomsky, Third Ward alderman and committee vice chairman, and Levin, both of whom previously proposed during a Committee of the Whole meeting what they saw as a compromise – a five-story building – still thought five stories would be best.
"I think 55 feet on the table months ago is different than 55 feet on the table now," Polomsky said.
Seventh Ward Alderman Mark Mulliner supported the six-story building, explaining he's seen the city go back and expand other garages after they were built.
"It's not something that's going to stay static," Mulliner said of Elmhurst's downtown.
They all agreed to eliminate the Zoning and Planning Commission's condition prohibiting commuter parking in the deck. While the committee agreed the primary use should be for retail parking, they worried about restricting parking in a way that would require going back through the zoning process should needs change in the future.
"Parking is a very dynamic process. We've changed it numerous times," said Assistant City Manager Mike Kopp.
The committee also changed another condition of the commission's report that required seven parking spaces for a designated loading zone in front of the building. Instead, they changed it to two spaces minimum allowing more to be added in the future if retailers need.