From noise to housing to building enormous, flashing street signs, the village of North Riverside Board of Trustees is considering a number of new laws and regulations.
The board discussed six new changes to village laws and regulations at its Aug. 22 meeting. These ordinances are not approved yet by the board, but will be brought up for discussion and approval at future meetings.
The laws discussed include:
n A new condominium conversion
n A ban on renting out single family homes,
n Removing snow plowing bans from the excessive noise law, but limiting lawn mowing and construction until later in the morning on weekends,
n Eliminating unused liquor licenses from the village and moving back the liquor serving closing time from 4 a.m. to 3 a.m.,
n Changing the sign ordinance to allow more large, digital billboards like the one at First Avenue and Cermak,
n A moratorium on new banks in the village.
Mayor Richard Scheck, who urged the changes, said he wants to create a condo conversion ordinance to encourage developers to build owner-occupied housing rather than rentals, and to come up with a set of rules to cover gaps in homeowner association bylaws.
“We have some people interested in doing some good developments,” Scheck said. “We want to offer assistance programs, to encourage the change from apartments to condo, to provide more stability to the village.”
The board created an ad hoc committee made up of trustees Tom Corgiat, Randy Czajka and Gary Wittbrodt to explore a new ordinance, and to create a marketing plan that would help condo converters. Banks will be contacted for financial assistance packages, Scheck said.
Scheck also urged trustees to modify homeowners’ ability to rent their homes. Residents are allowed to rent out their homes under current law, and trustees agreed to examine ways to change the zoning ordinance to prohibit home renting.
“In some cases we have seniors who have one spouse pass away, they start renting out to boarders,” Scheck said. “The big downside for us is increased traffic, increased parking and increased density.”
Scheck also said he wants to change the closing time for liquor license holders.
“We’re about one of the only towns left that have 4 a.m. closing time. Cook County is about to change their bar closing time to 3 a.m. Those people are going to come to us, and we don’t need it,” Scheck said.
What the village does need is more money, the mayor said. It would be profitable to build two more large, digital signs like the one erected by the Gierczyk company at its retail development at First Avenue and Cermak Road, Scheck said.
That new sign is expected to make thousands of dollars a month through advertising, Scheck said. Currently the sign currently only carries one Lexus dealership ad, with total estimated revenue of about $4,500 per month. North Riverside gets a cut of all funds from Gierczyk’s sign, in return for allowing the installation.
Village officials expect the signs will cost about $500,000 each to put up. Gierczyk would not comment on how much its sign cost.
The village could build and own two signs, Scheck said. Ford dealer Joe Rizza has agreed to host one of the signs, Scheck said, and another could go on a site near the North Riverside Park mall.
Trustee Czajka lodged the only protest. He said some people think the large signs are eyesores.
“It’s very distracting,” Czajka said. “We should let this sit awhile until we’ve found out what people think. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the sign from residents.”
Scheck said he’s heard a lot of compliments from businesses.
“We’d be putting these in the middle of the business districts,” Scheck said.
The First and Cermak sign hasn’t brought in enough traffic to help Gierczyk sign leases for the new strip mall at that site, however. The developer, like many businesses in the village, must contribute a portion of all sales taxes to the village. Gierczyk officials said they’re having trouble leasing space at the strip mall.
At least half the mall is empty, with only a Subway sandwich shop and a Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins store operating. The developer is supposed to lease out 80 percent of the property to sales-tax gathering business. Scheck said the village should cut the developer a three-year break from the 80-percent requirement.
“We don’t want vacancies, that’s not good,” Scheck said. “But we want to be a partner and help them along.”
A bank, which does not pay sales tax, now leases 20 percent of the strip mall property. It could be one of the last banks in the village. Scheck said he would like to create a ban on all new banks, since they don’t help the village coffers.
“We have enough banks here; we don’t want to tie up space that could be generating sales tax,” Scheck said. “We need a moratorium on new banks.”
All proposals from this meeting will be worked on by village staff and committees and brought to the board for discussion and approval at future meetings. Village officials encouraged residents to provide input on the proposed laws.