Calumet rezoning looks for a compromise

LaGRANGE – LaGrange City Council is seeking a resolution for a property owner and a neighborhood as the groups reviewed a proposed zoning change for a new zoning that would work for everyone involved earlier this week.

The owner of 613, 615 and 617 Hines St. as well as 404 S. Horace King St. requested that the zoning of the properties be changed to general commercial in hopes of selling that property that sits at the entrance to the Calumet neighborhood. Ben Yates requested the general commercial zoning because he hopes to be able to sell the property for business use, and the general commercial zoning would allow for a business to be built while taking into account distance from the three roads that surround the property. Even as he made the request he acknowledged some community concerns and a willingness to work with Calumet residents which weighed heavy on the minds of the council.

“One of the other concerns that has been expressed by some council members this morning in work session was that the C-3 (general commercial) is such an open-ended use category that allows gas stations and liquor stores and things like that that the C-1 neighborhood commercial is more restaurant, retail, etc.,” said Mayor Jim Thornton.

Council was especially sensitive to the needs of the surrounding Calumet Village due to the recent revitalization efforts that the residents have been actively seeking out and implementing in the neighborhood. The property’s proximity to Twin Cedars Youth Services was taken into account as well.

“The thing that bothers me most is the possibility of a liquor store that could go there,” said Dr. Robert Tucker who has led revitalization efforts within the community. “Something else could go there that might not enhance our community. I believe you would want our community to continue to improve as we are right here next to downtown, and certainly we understand the property and the interest that will probably continue to be in it. … I would hope that there would be some kind of restrictions there that whatever businesses are put in there. It would be something that would certainly not detract from what we are trying to do in our community.”

The idea of more restrictive zoning that would prohibit some of the business types that the community hoped to avoid from being on that property was considered, but the more restrictive community business zoning (C-1) or commercial service zoning (C-2) would not provide most businesses with enough room to build and still provide adequate parking on the property, according to Yates. However, he was not opposed to limitations on what kind of businesses could come into the neighborhood.

“If there is a list of businesses that the community would not like in that particular location, I would be more than glad to look at those and discuss those, and if we can make it where those particular businesses would not be allowed on that particular piece of property then I don’t have a problem with that,” said Yates. “… Let’s look at those lists together, and I’d be more than happy to do that.”

The city attorney and city planner agreed to look into the possibility of allowing general commercial zoning (C-3) with a condition of community business zoning (C-1) use on the property, which would allow for a compromise between the property owner’s space concerns and the community’s usage concerns.

The city council plans to hold a second reading and vote on the zoning of the property at their next meeting on February 28 at 5:30 p.m. at 208 Ridley Ave.