Two-year clock starts on contractor's plan for former Elk Grove Township HQ

Arlington Heights trustees narrowly agreed Monday to allow a heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractor to move into the former Elk Grove Township headquarters at the southern gateway to the village, but the approval expires in two years.

Paragon Mechanical, which operated for a decade at 11 N. Arlington Heights Road in the village's downtown, purchased the 2.4-acre township property at 2400 S. Arlington Heights Road in a public bid process in 2018.

Village officials say Paragon illegally parked its trucks at the township building in 2018 and 2019 and didn't have a business license for that address. Last February, the company submitted a formal request for rezoning and land use variation that would allow it to operate there.

That's what it finally got approved Monday night - on a 5-3 vote of the village board - but it came with the caveat that Paragon's larger plans for expansion and redevelopment of the site be submitted to the village in two years.

After more than 90 minutes of debate during a virtual meeting, neither side seemed quite satisfied with the outcome.

Though the two-year condition was offered as a sort of compromise by the village's community development department staff - which initially recommended rejection of Paragon's bare-bones phase one plans - Mayor Tom Hayes suggested the village could be in a difficult legal situation in two years, with the prospect of having to sue a local business to stop operating.

Paragon owner Kevin Polka objected to signage restrictions that came along with the board's approval. No ground signs are allowed along the Jane Addams Tollway or on-ramp frontage.

"You guys handcuffed me," he said after the vote.

Hayes and Trustees Bert Rosenberg and Jim Tinaglia sided with the recommendation of village staffers, who said a contractor shop wasn't the best fit for the strategic location, suggesting a hotel or restaurant instead.

But the majority of trustees sided with the plan commission's 6-3 "yes" recommendation, saying they were sympathetic to helping a local business while imposing the two-year deadline to present expansion plans. Paragon provided conceptual artist renderings that show a larger three-story building, tollway billboard sign and wind turbine, but not engineering or site plans.

Paragon's initial plans call for reoccupying the vacant building with offices, a training area and storage space - which Polka said would be less of an impact than the township's use. He added there would be no fabrication done there, and only two trucks parked in the rear of the site.

"Right now, it's the best thing that you have," he told trustees. "You can maybe roll the dice, but you know what? I'm a for-sure thing. We can move in. Otherwise what? It goes vacant? It gets distressed? Boarded up?"

Elk Grove Township officially completed the move to its new headquarters at 600 Landmeier Road in Elk Grove Village in March.

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