I post the info for a lot of public meetings on this blog. I do this because I am happy to live in a community that cares to discuss important matters with one another. Being able to have a say in a major development or ask a question directly to your Alderman is something that carries a lot of weight - and there’s a lot going on in Logan Square that folks need to think about and discuss.
In December, Steve Vance (Grid Chicago) published a post on his personal blog Steven Can Plan about how the McDonald’s at Milwaukee & Sawyer has become the catalyst to a zoning change in that part of Logan Square. So, what is going on and why does it matter? Here’s a little snippet from Steve’s post that helps summarize what’s happening:
Alderman Rey Colón has proposed an ordinance to strip “Pedestrian Street” designations from two segments of Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square.
It has do to with the McDonald’s at 2707 N Milwaukee Avenue, at the corner of Sawyer Avenue. Here’s what is proposed:
- The McDonald’s building will be demolished.
- A new McDonald’s building will be constructed.
- The new McDonald’s building will have two service lanes in their drive through, to facilitate better “drive-thruing” (and possibly increasing traffic on the streets with additional customers). You would enter from Milwaukee and exit onto Sawyer.
- The position/width/geometry of the curb cuts/driveways will change, necessitating the P-Street de-designation.
This designation change was passed and changed on December 14th by the Chicago Committee on Zoning. So why does this matter? This strip of Milwaukee Ave has seen a tremendous amount of growth and investment from small business in the last few years, and stripping this section of its Pedestrian Street designation could potentially be a major blow to these businesses and to folks who have spent so much time and effort making Logan Square a safer place to bike and walk. There is no doubt that Logan Square has become a destination neighborhood due to these new businesses, and vehicle congestion will likely become worse as time moves forward. Keeping this section of Milwaukee Ave designated as a Pedestrian Street (or “P-Street”) doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the area will not face congestion issues. However, urban planners almost unanimously agree that pedestrian traffic is more conducive to small business growth and sustainable neighborhood development in neighborhood centers versus vehicle traffic.
photo by Don Harder
Urban planner, blogger and Logan Square resident, Lynn Stevens, has also covered this issue in great detail and has described her experience attending the first public hearing on her blog Peopling Places:
Five residents (myself, Steven Vance, Christy Prahl, Mike Jaskula, and Nicole Semple) testified in opposition to the proposed lifting of the “pedestrian street” designation for a variety of reasons.
The McDonald’s franchise owner and her attorney were the only people to speak in favor of the proposal. Contrary to the alderman’s statement, they (and the acting city Zoning Administrator as well) revealed that they planned to increase the drive-through capacity at this site. Oddly, the owner touted another McDonald’s franchise she owns on four-lane North Avenue at the busy, car-centric intersection of Grand and Kostner Avenues as an example of how nice it will be for Milwaukee Avenue. She really wasn’t grasping the concept of a pedestrian oriented street.
As is typical of zoning in Chicago, the Committee on Zoning deferred to the alderman’s desire and unanimously passed the ordinances. The next day, City Council also deferred to the alderman’s desire and unanimously passed the two ordinances. That section of Milwaukee Avenue no longer has the pedestrian designation.
The change has been made for now, but there are still a few more formalities the Alderman and McDonald’s have to do before construction can begin. If you haven’t been to a community meeting before, but have considered getting more involved in the neighborhood, this would be a great chance to learn more about what’s happening and for your voice to be heard. Here’s the details for the meeting:
Pubic Meeting Notice - Alderman Rey Colon Ward 35
Alderman Rey Colon invites you to a public meeting for a proposed special use drive-thru permit that will result in the construction of a new McDonald’s at 2707 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Thursday February 2, 2012 - 6pm
2706 N. Sawyer Ave
There’s also a lot of great resources out there to learn more about this issue:
Steven Can Plan - Pedestrian Street designation in Logan Square
Peopling Places - Update on Milwaukee Ave Pedestrian Street Designation (from 12/19/11)
Chicago Pipeline - McRenovation: Pending Zoning Approval
Chicago Mag - What a Logan Square McDonalds can Tell Us About New Urbanism