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posted: 6/28/2012 3:15 PM

Prospect Hts. city council overrules zoning board on shopping center tenants

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  • This is the Wildbrook Commons shopping center in Prospect Heights. The city council agreed to allow jewelers that buy gold and therapeutic massage centers in the center against the recommendation of the city's zoning board.

       This is the Wildbrook Commons shopping center in Prospect Heights. The city council agreed to allow jewelers that buy gold and therapeutic massage centers in the center against the recommendation of the city's zoning board.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

 
By David Conway
dconway@dailyherald.com

The Prospect Heights city council passed an ordinance detailing the allowable tenants at Wildbrook Commons, amending a list recommended by the city's zoning board over the objection of one of the board's commissioners.

The city's zoning board, in a public meeting last month, went over a list of allowable retailers proposed by Fred Hakimian, owner of Wildbrook Commons, a strip shopping center at Palatine and Elmhurst roads. At the last city council meeting, Helmer expressed his confusion as to why certain businesses had been disallowed from renting space at the shopping center.

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At his request, stores that buy gold exclusively, jewelers that buy gold and therapeutic massage centers were added into one version of the ordinance.

The zoning board's proposal, which allowed no stores that bought gold and approved centers for physical therapy but not therapeutic massage, was also presented to the council.

Ultimately, the city council Monday split on the disputed businesses, permitting jewelers that buy gold and therapeutic massage centers but keeping the cash-for-gold stores off the approved list.

Corinne Frank-Watson, a commissioner on the zoning board, said the changes should not have been made since the zoning board, a recommending body to the city council, had approved the initial list unanimously after lengthy discussion.

"The zoning board spent a lot of time constructing this list, and we unanimously made a recommendation to the city council," Frank-Watson said. "I feel like our decision was undermined by the mayor's decision to allow certain uses."

She also complained that information on the addition of therapeutic massage centers was not made available to the public. The other proposed changes, while not mentioned in the agenda itself, were outlined in one of the supplemental documents available online.

Helmer, who does not cast a vote on legislation, said the move was about ensuring that the shopping center would not be lacking tenants.

"We should not handcuff our current owner of the property, who has been sitting there for several years," Helmer said. "I can tell you what vacancies will do to you: they'll kill you."

Helmer also said the board largely approved of the zoning board's recommendations, overturning just two of the nearly 40 businesses on the list submitted by the board.

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