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Chicago alderman, neighbors file appeal to stop North Avenue pawn shop

North Avenue Neighborhood Associatimembers Joe Graber Judith Alexander are among Oak Park residents opposed another pawn shop locating along North

North Avenue Neighborhood Association members Joe Graber and Judith Alexander are among the Oak Park residents opposed to another pawn shop locating along North Avenue. | James C. Svehla~for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 28, 2013 11:46PM

OAK PARK — A Chicago alderman and three Galewood residents have filed an appeal seeking reversal of special zoning that allows a pawn shop to be located on North Avenue against the wishes of the community, including residents of Oak Park.

Ald. Nicholas Sposato, Greg Roberts, Jane Stevens and Francis Sapone filed the appeal Friday, April 19 in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Members of the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals and EZ Pawn Illinois, Inc., were named as defendants.

Lawyer Lawrence Andalino, a Galewood resident who opposes the special zoning, is representing the petitioners free of charge.

“Really, the cards are stacked against the proposed use,” he told the Oak Leaves.

The Chicago Zoning Board approved the special use zoning with a vote of 3-1 on Jan. 18 and posted its five-page decision on March 12. The alderman and residents or property owners within 200 feet of the proposed Pawn Shop site, 6432 W. North Avenue, had 35 days to file their appeal.

According to City of Chicago Zoning Ordinance Title 17-13-0905-A, special use zoning may be approved only when each of the following conditions are met:

1. The proposed use in the proposed location must meet all standards of the zoning ordinance.

2. The proposed use and location must be for the public convenience and not adversely affect the general welfare of the neighborhood or community.

3. The proposed use and location must be “compatible with the surrounding area in term of site planning and building scale and project design.”

4. The proposed use and location is “compatible with the character if the surrounding area in terms of operating characteristics, such as hours of operation, outdoor lighting, noise, and traffic generation.”

5. The proposed site and location must “promote pedestrian safety and comfort.”

The Zoning Board’s resolution asserts that all criteria were met, citing by name those who testified in favor of and against the special zoning. They included Oak Park residents Judith Alexander and Joe Graber, co-presidents of the North Avenue Neighbors Association, who were against the pawn shop.

“The application complies with all standards of the Zoning Ordinance,” the resolution said. “The application is in the interest of the public convenience and will not have an adverse affect on the general welfare of the surrounding area.”

The petitioner’s complaint, however, disagreed, saying not only is the special zoning not “in the interest of the public convenience,” it was approved against the manifest weight of the evidence.

“I think it’s a pretty good showing when you have 300 signatures against it and 30 people show up for the hearing,” Andalino said of the community’s input.

In addition, the Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development, which by city ordinance is required to weigh in on all special use applications, recommended denial of the pawn shop “given the number of other existing pawn shops within close proximity to this site.”

Andalino said the City of Chicago recently passed an ordinance that prevents pawn shops from locating within 1,000 feet of another pawn shop. A Cash Pawn America is one block away from the proposed EZ Pawn location.

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