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Neighbor Airs Concern over Menards Expansion

Village staff say they're working with neighbors to mitigate potential noise and visual concerns.

Once completed, the expanded Menards in Tinley Park will be the . It’s a claim that seems to impress everyone close to the project—except those living next door.

Joseph Tomczak, a townhome owner on Julia Courtyard, told the village board Tuesday that he’s worried about the look of a proposed 14-foot fence that is intended to reduce noise coming from the back of Menards. It's among the conditions the village has put upon the hardware megastore, and in return the village will line trees to mask the unpleasantness of a towering white wall.

The village has been “talking about putting 20 trees across 500 feet, and the trees are supposed to be an inch and a half in diameter,” Tomczak said. “That comes out to about 25 feet apart, and I don’t know how much that’s gonna cover that wall.” He later likened it to a “prison wall.”

Amy Connolly, the village’s planning director, said the trees must be planted 25 feet apart to allow them to grow, but she assured they would be layered in rows to cover more space. After the meeting Tomczak, 83, joked about not living to see the day the trees mature.

He and several other neighbors brought similar concerns to a village plan commission meeting in March. Theron Berg, a real estate representative for the hardware chain, said Menards is “comfortable with the (village’s) conditions" which came from that hearing and also include dock restrictions. Loading and unloading will not be permitted between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m. on Sunday.

A final landscaping plan must be approved by the village’s landscape architect before building permits are given to Menards.

On Tuesday board members approved the first reading of an ordinance that ultimately will approve the expansion. Construction can begin when the second reading is passed. Connolly was not certain, but she speculated an August start date.

Menards intends to convert the two-story former department store that houses the SouthtownStar into an outdoor sales center with a redesigned facade. Poor circulation, combined with a decreased coverage area, has prompted the Sun-Times Media Company newspaper to seek a smaller headquarters.

Last month the board passed a tax incentive package with Menards, trustee Brian Maher said. In return for investing $4 million in the expansion, the hardware chain and the village will split evenly the tax on new sales. The agreement would last for 10 years, or until Menards earned $1 million through the agreement, whichever comes first.

2012 Budget

Trustees have given the 2012 fiscal year budget a first reading and are expected to approve it next week without changes.

On March 24 village staff and officials spent eight hours hammering out the proposed 2012 fiscal year budget, which begins May 1.

Expenditures for all village funds total $124 million—$40 million of which comprise the general expenditures fund.

Trustees T.J. Grady, David Seaman and Gregory Hannon were absent Tuesday. No public comments regarding the 2012 budget were made.

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