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Our View: Station plan should fuel compromise

Updated: December 15, 2012 6:23AM



That frequent issue in suburbia, the NIMBY syndrome, has surfaced again — this time in unincorporated Frankfort Township where a developer wants to build a 24-hour gas station/car wash near a residential area.

Residents of the nearby Tinley Trails subdivision in Tinley Park are fighting the plan for the usual reasons — fearing that it will cause problems with noise, traffic safety and lighting and harm their property value. Some go so far as to suggest it would increase crime. The proposed station would abut some of their back yards. “Not in my back yard,” indeed.

The plan is working its way through Will County’s planning and zoning process, and the homeowners were encouraged last week when the planning commission advised the county board that the car wash, liquor sales and a drive-through food window not be allowed. Zoning of the five-acre site at 194th Street and Harlem Avenue allows a gas station, but the above amenities require a special-use permit.

The commission’s recommendation went to the county board’s land use committee, which postponed a vote Tuesday, urging the residents to meet with developer Leonard McEnery to try to resolve their complaints.

We hope the two sides can reach an agreement, but if not, here’s what we see as the best solution: Allow the car wash but only, say, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Beer and wine sales are OK, but no hard liquor and forget the drive-through. And no gasoline truck deliveries or truck refueling overnight or too early in the day or late at night.

It’s hard to justify denying McEnery a car wash and a liquor license when a gas station three blocks south on Harlem Avenue has both.

While we sympathize with the homeowners’ concerns, they bought their houses knowing the proximity to Harlem Avenue, which is the county line and has businesses all along its west side south of 183rd Street because of lower taxes in Will County. The residents knew, or should’ve known, that a business would locate on the property one day.

So a compromise is in order, perhaps similar to what we suggested above, so the residents can still enjoy their back yards.



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