Private Property Rights And Sound Zoning Policy Hijacked By 4-3 Vote


This past Monday night four members of the Park Ridge City Council – Alds. Jim Allegretti, Don Bach, Robert Ryan and Frank Wsol – cast the votes that turned long-time commercially-zoned properties into multi-family residentially-zoned ones.  They did so not because the owners, or prospective purchasers, had any concrete plans for erecting residential structures on them, but simply because a few handfuls of neighbors and one pandering politician (Ryan) wanted it.

The attorney for the owner of one of the properties, the former Napleton Cadillac parking lot at 200 N. Meacham, argued against the unfairness of such ad hoc spot re-zoning and noted the chilling effect it could have on businesses that may be considering whether to re-locate to, or remain in, Park Ridge.  He also warned the Council of a possible lawsuit by his client.

Whether the Council’s action results in a lawsuit or chills business interest in Park Ridge remains to be seen.  But one thing seems certain: the market value of those re-zoned properties just decreased, as did their tax revenue potential.  Given the Council’s irresponsibility in passing a multi-million dollar deficit budget and the sheer boneheaded-ness of adding to that deficit with even more spending, however, “value” and “revenue” are two concepts that seem lost on these Alder-dunces.

As head panderer (or is it “pimp”) for this re-zoning foolishness, Ryan tried to foreclose any debate on the public policy considerations of such action by dusting off the 7-plus year old “Uptown Comprehensive Plan” (the “Plan”) and purportedly quoting its suggestion of “transitional residential areas” bordering the Uptown TIF district as if that concept were a moral imperative delivered by a solemn voice emanating from a burning bush.

We have reviewed that Plan and can find nothing in it that calls for, or even suggests, converting business/commercially-zoned properties into multi-family residential ones; and we hereby challenge Mr. Ryan to prove otherwise.

And although nobody mentioned it Monday night, we wonder why these spot zoning changes – if they truly are as essential to the Plan and as desirable to their neighborhoods as Ryan claims them to be – weren’t adopted by the City’s Ad Hoc Zoning Ordinance Re-Write Committee (with its well-paid consultants) when it rewrote the City’s Zoning Code only three years ago?  Were the members of that committee asleep at the wheel, or is this re-zoning a really bad idea?

But unless Mayor Schmidt were to veto these changes and force an over-ride vote, or Napleton makes good on its veiled lawsuit threat, it looks like this ship has sailed. Unfortunately, we may never know whether, and how many, desirable business opportunities sailed away with it.

13 comments so far

Great post PW.
Ryan will not be able to prove what you suggest because he cannot… it simply is not prove-able. Ryan’s efforts at improving his worn image with a small handful of neighbors in the area surrounding the re-zoned properties is pathetic. Too little; too late Robert.
And do we live in the USA or what? Property rights? Helllllllllo.
Where do the other 3 joining Ryan get off essentially robbing the property owners of their rights. Can any of the 4 jackasses come up with a case where the city has ever before re-zoned a property without the direct / express request of a buyer or seller? This sets a bad, bad precedent and it is no wonder that Ryan’s fingerprints are all over it.
Schmidt should veto this action but I doubt he will, more likely Napleton sues… like we’ve got the money to spend on that!

I don’t think Park Ridge has a snowball’s chance of getting legitimate retail into any of those re-zoned sites, but I see no reason to effectively take them off the retail market by re-zoning them residential. And I would not be surprised if that re-zoning also discourages any developer from considering those sites for a small business or medical office.

And did any of the “Yes” voting aldermen consider how the loss of the “Napleton lot” might adversely affect the marketability of the main Napleton parcel across the street? Not likely!

Zoning Re-Write Committee?

Paging Judy Barclay!

Good luck hearing from JB… and if even you do all you will hear/get from her is “not my fault” and a bunch of finger pointing.

our mayor promised total transparency, what is the real reason behind this? something smells rotten in the state of denmark

Anonymous on 07.08.09 10:28 am,

First, would you be kind enough to define what you mean by “legitimate retail?” As opposed to what? The “window shopping” available in Amsterdam?

Point of fact…there was interest by at least one (allegedly) “legitimate” commercial business for redevelopment of the parcel; that would be CenTrust, which was looking to build still another drive-through bank on the spot.

I’ve no problem with the homeowners in the area having opposed that idea.

However, I fully agree with your having said, “I see no reason to effectively take them off the retail market by re-zoning them residential.”

What the City Council has voted to do is wrong to do. It is wrong to do to the property owner, and it is wrong to do to the commercial property tax base.

I also fully agree with your statement, “And I would not be surprised if that re-zoning also discourages any developer from considering those sites for a small business or medical office.”

The parcel was already zoned for commercial purposes, but according to the CEO for CenTrust the “zoning process” was “too risky” for his company to endure.

The Aldermen and the Mayor have taken a limited and short-sighted view of the matter, so there is no doubt that they have NOT considered how the “Napleton lot” conversion to residential zoning will detract from the “marketability” of the old Napleton Cadillac site, which I have reason to believe has been, and continues to be, of interest to some commercial developers.

All that being said, the fundamental principal(s) being “violated” by this maneuver are the VERY legitimate rights of the property owner. Without an agreement between the owner and a buyer (a buyer willing to “risk” going through the zoning process), the City of Park Ridge should not preclude redevelopment possibilities.

The residents in the area have every right to want to “maintain” the “residential character and feel” of the area. However, if commercial property near their homes had/has the potential to aggreive them so…they should not have purchased homes near a commercial property, near a major redevelopment area, just off one of the most heavily traveled (if not THE most heavily traveled) roads through town.

That property was already commercial, and has been a commercial property for 20 years; a commercial property for a car dealership, which by its very nature produces TONS of traffic in the immediate area. Can you say “test drive?”

A parking lot alone produces in/out traffic, and the Napleton lot, while used for “storage” of vehicles, was still an in/out lot, because that’s where the dealership stored inventory. What do car dealers do with inventory? Move it around for things like, you know, TEST DRIVES!

I believe the action taken by the City Council, at the urging of one of the biggest dolts occupying an Aldermanic seat, is public policy planning foolishness unparalelled.

Nothing new from this bunch of left-overs.

How much in sales tax and property tax are we getting from the stores in the Uptown complex (Traders, Chicaos, etc.)? Why do we keep on putting in multi-unit residential where we could have a business or office?


You reminded me… To add insult to injury, these commercial parcels are located within the TIF district. What has been done through this re-zoning will now reduce the potential for these properties to generate a higher level of TIF increment EAV.

Remember, residential is taxed at a considerably lower rate than commercial property. Nor does residential property carry with it the potential for annual business licensing fees, etc.


The TIF issue didn’t even occur to me, but then I’m not an Alderman or Mayor who is supposed to be watching the bottom line for the citizens. Did anyone do an audit or financial analysis of this?

The Advocate reports that Ryan pushed for this re-zoning as “sending a message that we wish to protect the integrity of the residential neighbors.” What crap! Is he saying the neighbors’ “integrity” has been harmed for all these years that the Napleton lot was there, or that a business has been operating on the Audrey’s property?

At least that new guy, Sweeney, seems to get it, and he’s only been there a few weeks. What’s Ryan’s, Allegretti’s, Wsol’s and Bach’s excuse?

Is this somethign Schmidt can veto?

I live near Audrey’s and there’s no reason it should remain commercial land. But I don’t think it should be a condo, either.

Hmmmm…..not commercial and not condo. That means it can only be split into home sites or one big house. The one big house would never work becuase everyone would scream about it being “out of character” for the neighborhood.

How about we just have the city buy it and put in a water park???

Or a police station?!? YIKES!

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