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updated: 8/5/2014 5:20 AM

Arlington Heights, church settle parking dispute

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After months of controversy with the neighborhood, Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights has made peace with area residents and will be restriping its parking lot to make the best use of its space.

Orchard Evangelical Free Church, 1330 N. Douglas Ave., received approval Monday for plans to resurface and restripe its parking lot without parking islands, meaning the church will still have 299 parking spots.

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The decision comes after more than a year of controversy between the church and the neighborhood because officials originally wanted to tear down eight church-owned homes to create a larger parking lot.

After forcing renters from those homes to move in 2013, outcry from the neighborhood caused the church to drop that plan and sell off all eight homes.

The church originally said they needed more parking because of the large population at the church, but John Steiger, property chairman for the church, said it has managed the need with valet parking and police help to direct traffic on Sundays.

The board had some questions about Orchard's request to eliminate the required parking islands.

Steiger said installing the islands would cost an additional $7,000 each for the already $80,000 project. He said the church also has concerns about safety of the islands since the parking lot is used for activities other than just parking.

Trustees doubted both arguments.

"You sold all the houses, right? I would suppose that from all of that you could have some money to put into some islands," Trustee John Scaletta said.

"It seems to me that having the islands there would delineate the drive aisle and would improve safety," Trustee Robin LaBedz said. "It would be clear that if children are running around, they can see an island and stop."

Regardless, all four trustees attending the meeting approved the parking project without the islands but said that if an issue arises in the next few years that gives the village concern, the church could be required to install the islands.

Mayor Tom Hayes recused himself from the vote because he is a member of Orchard and four trustees were absent. The motion still passed because it had the majority of the quorum present voting in favor.

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