Longtime Tinley property owner Joan Hutchison feels a bit uneasy about the village's new zoning code, which came before the board Tuesday for a first reading.
"I don't think you should just let (development) grow," she said, Tuesday while standing beside her husband, Richard. "I think a plan is good. I'm just not so sure this plan is good."
The couple has owned a commercially zoned building in the 16800 block of Oak Park Avenue since 1973 and said they have concerns with the village's Legacy Code.
The code is guided by the Legacy Plan, which the board approved more than a year ago to help guide downtown development over the next 50 and even 100 years, said Trustee Greg Hannon, chairman of the Village Board’s Planning and Zoning Committee. Village officials announced Wednesday that they will hold a special Committee of the Whole meeting this Saturday when they will take a bus tour of Oak Park Avenue to review properties in the Legacy Plan area.
If approved by the village board — now scheduled for a final vote July 19 — the code would create six zoning areas between 183rd and 167th Streets, according to board documents. Those zones include the downtown core, downtown flex, downtown general, neighborhood general, neighborhood flex and civic areas, said Amy Connolly, planning director for the village.
Commercial and mixed-use properties would be centrally located in downtown Tinley core, close to the train station. Planners have said a goal is to make the area more pedestrian friendly.
Existing businesses, like Hutchison's, could be re-zoned under the existing plan. It seeks to consolidate commercial businesses into the downtown corridor but also states that an already standing business wouldn't be forced to comply unless it's overhauled.
"Heritage sites can stay as they are forever," Connolly said, of properties like the Hutchison's. "If you have a heritage business on an existing lot, it can stay as it is forever. If you redevelop the lot … it has to meet the existing Legacy Code."
A major property redevelopment would include a renovation costing half or more of a business' market value, village officials have said.
Hutchison's property is listed under the code's proposed "neighborhood general" zone, which is meant to, "transition, over time, existing single family houses and commercial uses into multi-family uses," according to village documents.
"We still do feel like it's going to impact either the sale of our building or the rental of our building, mainly because of the perception that people will have," she said. " … I'm sure it will affect us."
Village officials have been attentive to residents like the Hutchisons and the duo said Tuesday that they felt, "less concerned than before, but still have questions." Two open houses were held to field residents' questions in early June and a public hearing at the Convention Center was held June 8.
Hannon said the code has a lot to offer Tinley Park and changes would not be immediate.
"This is a long-term plan," he said. "It can be hard to envision something that's 50 years away, but we've been going about this very carefully. You have to look at the big picture."
Under the code, struggling business owners may be able to add apartments over their sites to ease financial burdens and also qualify for mixed-use tax breaks. An improvement in downtown landscaping is also part of the long-term vision, as well as increasing the number of people living in the downtown core.
The more Hutchison understands the code, the better she feels about it, she said.
"It's going to take a while," she said. "We're not getting any younger and if we decide to sell the building, maybe even the realtors would have misconceptions. ... I hope it all works out."
A Saturday, June 25, Committee of the Whole meeting will begin at 9 a.m. in the parking lot at the Tinley Park Village Hall, 16250 S. Oak Park Ave.