By Dee Longfellow

For The Elmhurst Independent

During public forum of the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 21, about 12 neighbors of Mark & Rosie Anglewicz spoke in support of their request for a variance for an addition they plan to build onto their home. 

Rosie Anglewicz spoke during public forum to ask why their request had been denied thus far. She said she had reviewed the cases of other multi-family developments of several downtown buildings, which were granted variances such as the Addison Street or Cottage Hill developments.  

“Why were those developers allowed their variances and we were not?” she asked. “Why is our case different? I’d like to ask you to review and vote on our case with the same lenses as [those used for] the developers.”

Mrs. Anglewicz thanked several individual aldermen and City staff for their hard work.

Accuses ZPC of ‘unwarranted callousness,’ poor treatment

Then she fought back tears as she talked about feeling as though her motherhood had come into question at their very first Zoning & Planning Commission (ZPC) meeting. 

“I’ve never experienced the unwarranted callousness that I have experienced during this process. From the first Commission hearing, where my choice to be a mother was questioned and deliberated, to be sure we wouldn’t come back for another request if we had another child. And I quote: ‘What if the Anglewiczs decide to have another baby?”

She cited other things said to her at the ZPC.

“Being told we should be grateful to have even one bathroom; to be told to stop talking during a committee hearing when trying to correct facts, which were provided by City staff; being told that, by having this reviewed by aldermen, the City was doing us a big favor.”

Anglewicz said she has worked in the public arena in her own career for the Planning Department for the City of Cleveland, for DuPage County, and others.  

“I have even worked with the federal government,” she said, “and I have never seen such clear intimidation and bullying of a constituent.

“Our request is reasonable but how we have been treated by the opposition is deplorable. How would you feel if you were put through this process for the last six months to add a second full bathroom to a home … that has been around since the City’s ordinances even existed?”

(Ed. note: While an earlier plan in the 33%-35% range had been denied, prior to the last City Council meeting, the applicant produced two new plans, one that kept the property at 30%. For that reason, the measure was pulled back to the Committee for more discussion. It was not denied.)

Later in the meeting during Committee Reports, the Development, Planning & Zoning (DPZ) Committee presented both a Majority Report and a Minority Report regarding the Anglewicz variation. 

The sticking point in the variance was a request to allow the homeowners to exceed the maximum coverage of a property, which by Elmhurst City Code is 30%. The primary difference between the two reports is that the Majority Report keeps the property at 30%, while the Minority Report allowed for 31.09%.

ZPC Chair offers explanation 

Sixth Ward Alderman Michael Honquest, Chair of the DPZ Committee, offered a very thorough explanation of the history of the 30% rule.

“The 30% rule dates back to 1924 and has been used for the last 100 years,” he said. “It is a rule that previous councils have held fast to for many reasons – overall, for the most people in Elmhurst, it has been a good rule. 

“As a council, we’ve put it out there as the standard, because it not only has history, it has been the rule we have followed even through the boom in town we’ve had over the last 20 years. In all residential cases, regardless of the lot size, that rule is applied. There’s over 14,000 homes in Elmhurst and they are all adhering to this rule.”

Honquest likes the rule because he says it “levels the playing field” and that it is easily understandable.

“Whether building or expanding a home, that is the requirement the City has in place. But there is the variance process, which is what the applicant followed. That is the appropriate way to address it.”

Other aldermen weighed before the vote, including Alderman Mark Mulliner (7th) who made some common sense observations:

“We have to remember that in 1924, people who were moving here wanted a neighborhood, they didn’t want another Chicago, they wanted space, they wanted yards, they wanted land around them.  

“I’ve had people ask me, ‘why is THAT house over 30%?’ I ask City staff to check and I have never found a single house that exceeds 30%, which means everyone is building according to the rule.”

He assured the audience no one was denying the Anglewiczs the right to build their addition.

The process of substitution

Aldermen then had to vote on the Motion to Substitute first, then take another vote on the actual Report approving the variance. The motion to replace the Majority Report ultimately won by a vote of 9-5. The Aye votes were: Kevin York, Tina Park, Scott Levin, Michael Brennan, Marti Deuter, Norm Leader, Bob Dunn, Michael Bram, Dannee Polomsky; Nays: Noel Talluto, Jim Kennedy, Michael Honquest, Mark Mulliner, Mark Sabatino.

The Council then voted to approve the Report by a vote of 9-5, as above, condoning the Anglewicz’s plan to build to 31.09%.

 

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