Residents learn of legal steps before Calumet Country Club can be rezoned

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Residents learn of legal steps before Calumet Country Club can be rezoned

September 15, 2021 - 22:10
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South Suburbs for Greenspace (SSG) shared information with residents on where things stand with the Calumet Country Club site and efforts to stop that property from being turned into a warehouse and distribution center.

For now, many of the SSG efforts have to do with staying up to speed with potential development plans and how the group could counter any future moves. For the Sept. 13 meeting, SSG invited members from the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights to discuss how the property could be developed.

In April, developer Walt Brown went into court and disconnected the property from the village of Homewood after the village board in March voted down rezoning the property for a proposed trucking terminal. The site is now classified as unincorporated Cook County and remains open as a golf course.

“A warehouse can’t be built on the site until the property is rezoned, either remaining as unincorporated land or annexing to a neighboring town,” according to a CLCCR handout shared at the meeting.

In the first scenario, rezoning would be done by the Cook County Zoning Board of Appeals and the Cook County Board. The process would require written notice at least 15 days before an application is submitted. All properties within 250 feet of Calumet Country Club and the clerks of municipalities within 1.5 miles would be notified, including Hazel Crest, Homewood, East Hazel Crest, Harvey and Markham, according to the provided information.

In the second scenario, the property could be annexed into nearby villages of Hazel Crest, Homewood and East Hazel Crest. A time-limited agreement between Brown and his company, Diversified Partners, and the village would outline commitments between both parties. CLCCR information explained that would involve negotiation of zoning, tax payment and other legal matters.

The agreement would need to be approved by two-thirds of the village trustees and a public hearing would need to be held before the vote. There must also be a public notice of the hearing in a newspaper within general circulation in the village at least 15 days before the hearing.

Another route that falls underneath the umbrella of this scenario, includes an annexation ordinance that could lead to the development of the property.

“Right now we think that both (options) are fair game and require a heightened awareness of public hearings in Hazel Crest, Homewood and East Hazel Crest,” said Emma Clouse of CLCCR. SSG organizers called on residents to volunteer to sit in on board meetings in those municipalities. Though there is no formal timeline or process of approval underway for the development, Gavin Kearney of CLCCR said based on what they’ve seen from other developers’ strategies “our expectation is that (Diverfified Partners) is in communication with government officials.”

Liz Varmecky, a member of SSG, said Hazel Crest has issued a partial denial of two recent Freedom of Information Act requests while Cook County has requested an extension. That is telling, she said.

“The denial indicates there is information Hazel Crest doesn’t want the public to see about their position on this property,” she said.

The meeting came after a months-long fight to stop Diversified Partners from developing the proposed warehouse on the nearly 130-acre property, which is northwest of Dixie Highway on 175th Street. Homewood residents have expressed concerns about noise, truck traffic and possible loss of their home values as a result of the development.

That includes David Janocha, of SSG, who lives across the street from the property. His house is situated between the main entrance and the exit, where “I already see probably 200 to 300 semi-trucks a day” on 175th Street, he said.

“In that last (Homewood) planning and zoning commission hearing, the representative for Diversified Partners said it would actually be like 750 to 1,000 trucks a day,” Janocha said. “The traffic situation would be worse, the pollution, the diesel from the 750 to 1,000 trucks a day, especially when they’re going to be idling on that property. You put industrial zoning next to residential zoning and it doesn’t ever bode well for the residents.”