Nadig Press - Wednesday July 11, 2001
Chamber supports change in zoningBy Brian Nadig
The Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce plans to send a letter to Alderman Patrick Levar (45th) in support of the proposed zoning change for a property in the 4400 block of North Milwaukee Avenue which has been at the center of controversy during recent weeks.
The site at 4423 N. Milwaukee Ave. is occupied by the Charybdis Multi-Arts Complex, and tensions have flared among residents at recent community meetings about whether the interactive arts studio should remain there. Performances at the center were halted after city inspectors reportedly found several license violations during two recent raids there.
The zoning of the site must be changed from B2 to B4 in order for the arts complex to apply for a public place of amusement license, which city Department of Revenue says it needs to operate.
Chamber president George Karzas said at the July 10 chamber meeting that the letter will only support the zoning change and that the chamber is not taking a stance on the arts complex.
At a June 27 community meeting, John Pikarski, an attorney for the owners of the property, said that the proposed zoning change and the fate of Charybdis should be separate issues. He said property owners need the zoning change, regardless of whether Charybdis operates there, to remain competitive because all other blocks on Milwaukee Avenue between Addison Street and the city limits already are zoned B4, which allows for more uses than B2.
One chamber member said that the property owners have done extensive renovations to their building and that the zoning change will make it easier to fill any vacant storefronts there.
Another member said that the chamber should be encouraging new businesses to move into the neighborhood and that the zoning change would be consistent with that.
The decision to send Levar the letter was made after a vote by a show of hands was taken at the chamber meeting.
Levar has said that he plans to survey residents who live within 500 feet of the site to gauge their view on the zoning proposal.