Thrift stores, resale shops and any other businesses that offer used goods in West Dundee are now restricted to a specific area in the village, under an amendment to the zoning code the village board unanimously approved Monday night.
That didn't sit well with the owners of the mostly vacant Spring Hill Gateway East mall, nor with the Bank of Camden, its financier. The Salvation Army was looking to open a resale store at the strip mall just east of Spring Hill Mall.
Monday's action means the Salvation Army will have to look for a spot within the Century Plaza strip mall on Route 31 south of Route 72. And for the time being, Spring Hill Gateway East will continue to house only one tenant -- Red Wing Shoes.
Tom Yardley, an attorney representing the Bank of Camden, called Monday's vote a "knee-jerk response to an attempt by one of the most respected religious organizations to do business in this community."
"It is hard to see this change in the zoning code as anything other than moving the goal posts in the middle of the game," Yardley said. "Except it is actually removing the goal posts in the middle of the game. Changing the zoning code at this point violates principles of fairness and seems likely that the real victim of this kind of action will be the citizenry of West Dundee."
Soon after the Salvation Army applied for a business license to open in January, the village board imposed a 90-day moratorium to review zoning conditions and criteria within the village's respective zoning districts.
But officials were talking about the moratorium and changing the zoning code before the Salvation Army even approached West Dundee, Village President Chris Nelson said. At the moment, there aren't any shops in the village that sell used goods.
"We were looking at the sale of used goods within certain business districts, the feeling being that used good sales outside of a regional mall (Spring Hill Mall) have a detrimental effect on the mall's ability to attract national retailers," Nelson said.
Nelson also took exception to Yardley's suggestion that West Dundee wasn't playing fair.
"They're not trying to fight the good fight. They're trying to make money and are unfortunately trying to reframe the issue," Nelson said.
The Bank of Camden has existing litigation pending against the village over more than $600,000 in special service area tax funds the village refuses to turn over because the bank has not taken a serious interest in the property's economic development, officials said.
Yardley declined to disclose the bank's next move with the Salvation Army.
As part of other regulations the board passed Monday night, used goods merchants with 5,000 square feet or less are the ones restricted to the Century Plaza. Those interested in clustering together or opening a place larger than 5,000 square feet would require a special use permit. Pawn shops would also need a special use permit before they open.