Two trustees feeling snubbed after vote request was ignored
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org February 26, 2014 1:15AM
Oak Lawn Village Trustee Robert Streit, 3rd District | Steve Metsch~Sun-Times Media
The Oak Lawn Village Board earlier this month approved an ordinance variance so a parking deck can be built on 95th Street, but Trustee Carol Quinlan (5th) was unhappy that the vote even took place because longtime Trustee Bob Streit (3rd) — who missed the meeting to be with his ill father — had asked that the issue be tabled.
Streit’s father, Donald, died three days later.
Parking variations were needed for the parking deck to be built along with a new commercial building at 5851 W. 95th St., in Streit’s district. So when the item came up, Quinlan moved to table it, as Streit had asked.
There was no second from any of the other four trustees in attendance, however. When Trustee Alex Olejniczak (2nd) moved that the matter be voted on, and it was seconded, Quinlan was out of luck. Trustees voted 4 to 1 to approve the variance, which left Quinlan unhappy during and after the meeting. She cast the “no” vote.
“In my opinion, it’s always been when a trustee of a district says, ‘Listen, I need more time,’ or ‘I want to be there to talk about things,’ you respect that. It’s not to say I wouldn’t have approved it, but it’s just out of respect,” Quinlan said.
Streit had emailed Mayor Sandra Bury asking that the matter be tabled until the next board meeting. He did not give any reason other than he could not attend, she said.
“It’s not, say, our own little fiefdoms, but we do know our districts, and we have a better understanding of what our residents want (in each district) so I voted ‘no’ on principle,” Quinlan said.
Village Manager Larry Deetjen, during the meeting, said there were no concerns or opposition heard in planning and development commission meetings.
“There’s a list of the adjacent property owners. There was not a single objection. The presentation was thorough,” Deetjen said. “It’s always been procedure that when there’s a unanimous vote, it goes to the village board so the application can begin the work of securing bids for demolition. Spring will not be long around the corner. Builders are lining up contractors for work. So, traditional, we’d never table an item like this.”
Bury said that she “can respect the trustee’s concern, but unless he wants to share what the issue is” the vote should not be delayed.
Bury noted that the project received unanimous approval from planning and development, and that Streit didn’t specify why he wanted the matter tabled.
“Do you want to hold up construction? You (can) lose momentum. I know when I was doing my building, this depends on that happening. This is a substantial investment in our town and will be a well-done professional presence. It’s well thought-out and it’s beautiful,” Bury said.
Developer Rick Schmidt said there would be medical offices on the second floor and other commercial uses on the first floor.
“I don’t think you’re going to see the type of intense use,” Deetjen said of possible tenants.
Quinlan said the action could have waited until the next board meeting in two weeks.
“Are they going to start construction right away? I didn’t buy that argument. And Larry was wrong. In the past, we have respected when someone (wasn’t at a board meeting). I’d like to think that if I couldn’t make a meeting and I asked the same thing, it would be respected,” Quinlan said.
Streit said on Feb. 18 that he had sent an email on Feb. 11 to Bury, the village clerk, Deetjen and the full board, saying he could not attend the meeting and asking that the matter be tabled.
“My dad was on hospice. I could not possibly attend the meeting,” Streit said.
He said he was “very disappointed” the vote was not delayed for two weeks.
“It’s a significant variation and I never would have anticipated they would not honor my request. I was shocked and very disappointed,” Streit said Feb. 18.
“I can’t remember any time in our village anybody asking for an item to be postponed when it wasn’t. It’s not like the construction would start the next day,” Streit said. “I’m disappointed, but right now I have too many other personal issues to deal with.”