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Article updated: 10/8/2013 1:25 PM

Arlington Heights votes to alleviate safety issue at shopping center

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The Arlington Heights village board voted on Monday to allow a new driveway with access to Waterman Avenue from a shopping center along Northwest Highway because of what officials and the developer both said was a safety issue.

The shopping center, 2020 E. Northwest Hwy., houses Chicago Swim School, Sherwin Williams Paint, Bellevue Pharmacy and Culver's. When the property was developed a few years ago, the driveway was not installed because the village did not want additional traffic in the residential neighborhood to the north, according to plan commission minutes.

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However, without a driveway, more than 20 cars a day have been driving through an alley off Waterman Avenue, creating a dangerous situation, said petitioner Nick Papanicholas.

"This is an accident waiting to happen," he said.

Trustee Robin LaBedz said she has gone to that shopping center and has seen how there could be confusion about where to correctly turn.

Village staff had concerns about moving forward with the project because there is ongoing construction nearby on Northwest Highway, meaning that full traffic counts for the road are not accurate right now.

Trustee Thomas Glasgow said he had concerns that once the Northwest High construction is completed even more will need to be done, such as adding a traffic light at this location.

The board approved the new driveway with the condition that if it is warranted, a traffic light will be built.

Papanicholas said he has about $35,000 in escrow for the installation of a traffic light if traffic counts on Northwest Highway warrant a need for one in the future.

"I don't want to come back and say that we could have done something about this and we didn't," he said. "I'm observing that there is a definite safety issue here."

The driveway will likely be installed before winter.

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