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Residents against planned store

David GiulianiMay 26, 2019

KANKAKEE — Many residents in a west Kankakee neighborhood are opposed to a planned Dollar General, and they made their views known at the Kankakee Planning Board meeting this week.

After the feedback, the planning board deadlocked on the proposal. Now, it goes to the City Council without any specific recommendation.

A developer is asking the city to change the zoning of the property at 869 W. Jeffery St. from residential to commercial. The plot is at Jeffery Street and Eighth Avenue, part of the former Faber Floral property and down the street from Kankakee High School.

Alex Phelan, an engineer with Kalamazoo, Mich.-based Hurley & Stewart LLC, said the developer wants a 9,100-square-foot store.

The property is in county jurisdiction, so it must be annexed in Kankakee’s municipal boundaries before it can be rezoned to commercial. The store would be the fourth Dollar General in Kankakee.

At Tuesday’s Kankakee Planning Board meeting, residents spoke against the Dollar General proposal, saying it would impact the residential character of their neighborhood and create more traffic congestion.

One of the residents, Julie Enright, said the store would hurt the neighborhood’s property values.

“We have a very quiet neighborhood, which is a blessing,” Enright said. “We don’t want loud Dollar General trucks in the middle of the night.”

Resident Tobe Fulford said he was upset about the Dollar General proposal, contending it could reduce safety in the area, especially given that many high school students walk there.

Planning Board member Deb Terrill said the store would help Kankakee.

“We have a big opportunity to bring this section into the city and bring tax dollars,” she said. “We could clean up a mess we have there.”

Terrill asked Mike Hoffman, the city’s planning consultant, why the city was addressing the zoning change before the land was even annexed.

“That is putting the cart before the horse,” she said.

Hoffman said the City Council deals with annexation, and the Planning Board handles zoning issues. But Terrill said the board typically gives recommendations on annexation proposals.

The Planning Board split 3-3 on the rezoning proposal.

In a later interview, Hoffman said he didn’t know when the council would consider the rezoning, saying the developer needs to take a number of steps, including a site plan.

Hoffman also said he wasn’t sure why the county zoned the property residential when it has actually been used for commercial purposes. “Maybe it was a legal nonconforming use,” he said.

‘CONGESTED CORNER’

The Planning Board is delaying a decision on allowing a used car lot at 1004 W. Station St. It is being proposed by Ernesto Martinez-Aguilar and Maria Toledo.

They want a conditional use permit to operate a used car lot on the property.

One neighbor said she didn’t know why the property was zoned commercial in the first place. She questioned whether there would be space for enough parking spaces.

“It’s not an appropriate corner for a car dealership,” she said. “It’s a very congested corner.”

Aldermen Dave Crawford and Larry Osenga, who represent the 3rd Ward property, expressed concern about a dealership at the corner plot.

“It’s a really small lot. There are a lot of other bigger lots in Kankakee,” Crawford said.

Board member Terrill said the community could benefit from the sales and property taxes generated from the property.

That comment drew a rebuke from Bill Spriggs, president of the Kankakee Valley Park District board.

“I think we heard that we need the tax money,” he said. “If it was me in the neighborhood, I would consider that an insult. I thought that was an improper thing to say when people are trying to protect their property. I thought that was out of order.”

He said the used car lot business would not be allowed to use a nearby park district parking lot.

The board delayed a decision, asking the property owners to present more information about their plans.

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