Riverside’s village president moved to reassure the owner of the former American Legion hall that the village board would not rezone the East Quincy Street property until there was a specific reason to do so.

The Riverside Planning and Zoning Commission on Feb. 24 is scheduled to consider a request to rezone the property at 43 E. Quincy St. from B-2 Mixed Periphery to B-2 Retail Core.

Riverside officials sought consideration of the change after being approached by a Lombard-based craft brewing company, which expressed interest in opening a brew pub at that location. The request, however, was not sought by the owner of the property, Thomas Barr, who expressed reservations about a zoning change.

But Village President Ben Sells, who was out of state on vacation and could not be reached when the Landmark first reported the proposal, said the plan isn’t to rush to rezone the property.

“We’re not going to rezone that place from under Mr. Barr,” Sells said.

But the rezoning hearing, which is slated for 7 p.m. on Feb. 24 at the Riverside Township Hall, 27 Riverside Road, will take place as planned.

Sells said he wants the stage set for rezoning the property if the brew pub idea moves forward. The Planning and Zoning Commission, whose decisions are advisory, would issue a recommendation to the village board.

“The way I anticipate handling it,” said Sells, “is the village board doesn’t have to act. But I can poll the board. I can ask, ‘Would the board be amenable?’ That way you cover both bases.”

Sells said he’s trying to be sensitive to Barr’s concerns as the owner of the property and to prospective businesses looking to relocate to the village’s downtown.

“I’m trying to serve both needs,” Sells said. “I want to show [business owners] we mean it when we say we’re business friendly.”

The property’s present zoning designation does not allow a brew pub to locate there. But the former American Legion hall sits immediately adjacent to properties in the B-2 Retail Core district. The Quincy Street Distillery is next door to the west, so a brew pub makes perfect sense at that location, Sells said.

Barr is wary of rezoning, because it would eliminate other potential buyers who might want to redevelop the property as multifamily residential without ground-floor commercial space, which is allowed under its present zoning.

Getting a recommendation to rezone the property would be the kind of preliminary step necessary to give a potential buyer the confidence their plan could move forward, Sells said.

“It makes no sense to make an offer [if there’s no prospect for rezoning],” Sells said.

The owner of the brewing company reportedly interested in the property did not want to comment on the record, but village officials told the Landmark that the brewery owner had said rezoning the property would assist in making a decision.

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