Trustees Unanimously Opposed to Sky Harbor Zoning Change

Trustees Unanimously Opposed to Sky Harbor Zoning Change

Village Trustees voted unanimously last month against a request to rezone a property in Sky Harbor business park to allow for a sports and recreation club, expressing admiration for the business and a desire for it to move to Northbrook, but objecting to the proposed location. Trustees commented that they agreed with the Plan Commission, which voted 9-0 vote against the request, and their stated concerns about the permanence of the zoning change that would set a precedent and allow businesses that are currently not permitted to move into the park.

Earlier this year, North Shore Sports and Wellness, operator of Joy of the Game, currently located in Deerfield, submitted a proposal to move their sports facility and secondary school to 555 Huehl Drive. Relocating the business to the property would have required a Zoning change from I-1 Restricted Industrial to I-B Institutional Building District. The proposal would have also needed numerous other special permits and variations to accommodate parking as well as allowable building size on the site.

Consultants for North Shore Sports and Wellness as well as a spokesperson for the owner of the property suggested that the business would enhance Sky Harbor, which they argued suffers from a high vacancy rate. Pat Lederer, principal with Korman Lederer, the largest property owner in Sky Harbor, refuted the allegations, adding their properties are fully leased. He further stated the zoning change would be disruptive and change the character of the business park.

Other neighbors and business owners located near the site also spoke out adamantly against the business moving into the park. Nearby owners of Nichols Display commented that their business has experienced growth and success since moving into Sky Harbor, but a change in the zoning would be detrimental and disruptive to their business. Residential neighbors all expressed concern over weekend and night traffic as well as the lack of parking in the area.

“Much as I would love to have this business in Northbrook, I don’t think it’s the right location,” commented Trustee Bob Israel. Trustee Kathryn Ciesla also questioned why the statistics about vacancy rates and rental rates presented by consultants differed so vastly from the Village’s. Other Trustees expressed skepticism that the off-site parking was a practical solution, sympathizing with the neighbors.

The Plan Commission heard similar comments at a public hearing held in October. More than 20 individuals spoke out for and against the proposal. Those voicing objections cited concerns about parking in adjacent neighborhoods, cut- through traffic, safety, decline in property values and changing the character of the business park. Several tenants of Joy of the Game spoke out in support of the owners and their willingness to be good neighbors. Owners Barry and Mike Nekritz explained that the Northbrook location was important and the business would benefit the community.

In explaining her vote, Plan Commissioner Johannah Hebl commented, “Northbrook is very fortunate to have the industrial park. Once you start altering the zoning it’s a slippery slope.”

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