We OPPOSE the zoning change for gas station/convenience store on 7700-7750 Irving Park.

We OPPOSE the zoning change for gas station/convenience store on 7700-7750 Irving Park.

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Irving Park started this petition to Village Of Norridge

We felt that our concerns were not heard at the Public hearing on April 8, 2019 and Board Meeting on April 24,2019.  We are requesting the Village of Norridge for you to DENY the zoning change ordinance to B3 and deny the applicable variances so that a gas station and 24 hour convenience store cannot be built at the board meeting on May 22.  We, your constituents, need more information and would like to request public community meetings to discuss this important issue. We need a thorough explanation of the potential impact this gas station/24 hour convenience store with liquor and gaming license would have on the community.    

Earlier in the year Exron Capital Inc. put a substantial bid to purchase the parcel, with the plan of building a gas station and 24-hour convenience store with liquor and gaming license. On April 8, 2019, the Village of Norridge Zoning Board held a public hearing and recommended the zoning for this parcel to change from a restricted neighborhood business district, which allows businesses that meet the “basic shopping needs” to general business district zoning, (this zoning change will allow the gas station to be built). Residents within 300 feet of the site were invited to attend the hearing, per Village code (myself included); we used this opportunity to voice our health, safety, parking and congestion and environmental concerns on the development.

Currently, 7700-7750 W. Irving Park Road consists of the Joe Sieb Community Center, which is vacant. This vacant lot has greenspace and has become a defacto park for children to play in. In fact, because of the paucity of greenspace in my community, a resident had to put a basketball hoop on their garage so the neighborhood kids could play basketball in the alleyway north of the lot (these are just some of the reasons some residents would like to see a community park on the vacant lot). East of the lot is one of Chicago's favorite family owned restaurant, Edelweiss, which uses a portion of the vacant lot for additional parking.  All of these stakeholders will be negatively impacted by the zoning change and gas station on 7700-7750 W. Irving Park Road.

Below are just some of the reasons some of my neighbors would like to see a community park on the vacant lot, not a gas station/convenience store.

A gas station will have significant health impacts on nearby residents. Approximately 40 children (girls under 15 and boys under 17) live on the same block as the proposed gas station/convenience store. (Data collected from 4000 Block of Ozark, Overhill and Ottawa). Children are even more susceptible to gasoline fume health issues because they are shorter and therefore closer to where the gasoline fumes may be inhaled. They also have a larger ratio of lung surface area to weight than do adults. Negative health impacts include: leukemia, cancer and liver damage are some negative effects of gas stations on health. While soil, air and noise pollution are environmental damages caused by gas stations on their immediate surroundings.

The level of noise and air pollution will prohibit from residents enjoying in their backyard/porches. Norridge residents already are negatively impacted by the jet noise from airplanes and the health risks of RF radiation levels from the cellular tower located on the parking lot at Estelle Sieb Center. As such, the health and quality of life for residents near the gas station/convenience store will drastically decrease. You need to consider the impacts on quality of life for future generations not just short term economic benefit for the Village.

The gas station will not only bring health risks of regular and repeated exposure to fumes from cars, trucks and motorcycles, but also as you may know, burning fossil fuel contributes to climate change.

We have four incidents of leaky storage tanks: Foster/Cumberland, a gas station in eastern Harwood Heights, the Foster/Harlem, and Cumberland/Irving Park. It was reported by Norridge Integrity on the April 26, 2015 Norridge Village Board meeting that Cook County has tightened rules regarding clean/rainwater discharge into septic sewers. The owner of the gas station at Foster & Cumberland (Citgo) wants to sign an agreement with the Village to clean up the property from a leaking storage tank. Although the tank is no longer there, it was leaking at some point, and the property is next to a Norridge water pumping station. Exron Capital owns the gas station on Foster and Cumberland so they have a history of leaking storage tank and potential significant health risks to residents. Secondly, as noted in the below image of the lot, the vacant lot is located in a flooded area which with the minimal amount of green space may lead to flooding for nearby residents.

The risk of a leak or even worse a hold-up or a fire or explosion are reasons that typically a zoning ordinance does not permit residences and gas stations in the same zoning district. You may recall in 2010 or 2011, there was a hold-up at gas station at Forest Preserve Drive and Montrose in Harwood Heights. Most recently, there was a stabbing at the gas station on Harlem and Montrose due to aggressive driving. These are the possibilities you are not considering if you decide to pass the zoning change and allow for the gas station/convenience store to be built near residential area.

The mayor mentioned Kmart in Chicago Tribune Article (4/25/2019), part of the problem of when those stores closed was the size of the buildings left behind (big box). The footprint they left is hard to retrofit to other uses. A gas station is a nightmare for remediation. Does Norridge want to continue to attract residents and families? It'll do that more successfully by fostering health, walkable neighborhoods than by encouraging any and all businesses, especially ones in an industry that is so detrimental to the planet & to people.

 As mentioned, there is a lack of greenspace in my community. Per the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) Comprehensive Plan (Adopted 11/24/2012) for the Village of Norridge, (page 33) “In 2025, the Village of Norridge would have of attractive residential neighborhoods; they consist of a well-balanced mix of primarily single family homes with some multi-family residential units, many of them aimed at seniors. New small parks have been acquired within neighborhoods to provide parks and recreational amenities within walking distance to most residents. A new bicycle system has been created that links Norridge Park with the Town Center and the Des Plaines River Bike Trail.” As you may know, the purpose of the plan is to provide guidance for local decision making.

Secondly, the Existing Conditions report from 2011 (page 62), states preliminary ideas were to convert it to a park. Document also highlights that there is limited space to create new parks or green space within Norridge.

Your decision to oppose the ordinance would help make our community a more livable, walkable, recreational area for current and future residents and children. 

While we understand that the village of Norridge is going through economic constraints and is looking for commercial planning as a way to alleviate these limitations, you have existing infrastructure like Carson’s at the HIP and Kmart east of the HIP to generate revenue. It is equally important to listen to your constituents and to address our concerns.

We are requesting that you DENY the zoning change ordinance to B-3 and all other applicable variances on May 22 and to instead hold public community meetings to inform us on the zoning request while also taking the time to listen and consider my community’s ideas of what to do with the vacant space.

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