Roberto’s controversial proposal breaks first hurdle
ELMHURST, IL – A key city committee on Tuesday approved a controversial plan for parking lots behind Roberto’s Ristorante and Pizzeria, which neighbors opposed
At the end of a two-and-a-half-hour virtual meeting, the Zoning and Planning Commission voted 5-2 to recommend the Spring Road Restaurant parking lots. But members have imposed conditions on hours of operation, lighting and fencing. The decision follows 15 hours of public hearings in recent months, with many locals accusing the popular restaurant of being a bad neighbor.
Commission members agreed to limit parking hours to 11 p.m. and require the lot lights to be turned off at that time. The restaurant’s website says it is open until 11 p.m. on weekends, but officials said Roberto requested that the parking lots be used until 1 a.m.
The committee also said it wanted the restaurant to install an 8-foot opaque fence between lots and neighbors and include landscaping on the neighbors’ side.
In March, the lawyer for opponents of Roberto’s parking lots argued that it was a “real disaster” behind the restaurant with numerous code violations – garbage storage, unshielded garbage enclosures, barricaded window , broken window, doors unable to close, electrical conduit problems and an extension cord that wraps around part of the building.
Roberto’s attorney did not specifically respond to the allegations, but said the restaurant’s parking plan would be better for the congested Spring Road shopping district.
At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioner Dave Garland, who voted against the proposal, noted the neighbor’s mistrust of the restaurant. He said he was worried the lots would hurt the neighborhood.
“Public welfare, safety and morals could be an issue and only exacerbate this lack of trust and the way the petitioner behaved in the neighborhood,” Garland said. “In practice, there will be implications for traffic.”
MP Carol Snyder, who also voted against the proposal, said more than half of the parking spaces lined neighboring homes. She also noted the “long history of conflict” between Roberto and his neighbors.
“We have the ability to limit opening hours, but I don’t think that’s practical as it would really conflict with Roberto’s opening hours,” she said. “I don’t see how Roberto would be motivated to enforce a parking restriction himself, as that would really mean eliminating paying customers, which is impractical. In light of their business activities, the app could really become an ongoing problem. day after day for the neighbors. “
Even member Lisa Callaway, who voted for the proposal, said it would be a “real challenge” to get cars out of the parking lot at a reasonable time.
But commission chair Susan Rose said customers have a responsibility to follow the rules if they’re given proper notice that lots close at 11 p.m. and the lights are out.
Snyder took issue with the argument that Roberto’s parking lots are a public good due to the lack of parking in the Spring Road area. She said the new lots will be for private use, and Roberto’s customers will likely choose the convenience of available street parking or public land nearby.
Member Jordan Uditsky disagreed. He said Roberto’s was the biggest user of parking in the Spring Road neighborhood, so the new lots would ease parking congestion in the area. In doing so, he said, he would follow Elmhurst’s long-term development plan.
Another member, Melissa Pittman, added: “The biggest parking burden in the area is Roberto’s, so if they provide parking to get some of it out, that also benefits the public.”
The zoning commission does not have the last word. The parking issue is then submitted to the city council’s development, planning and zoning committee, tentatively set for June 14. Then the matter is referred to the full city council.
In a statement Wednesday, Mark Daniel, lawyer for Elmhurst Neighbors United, who opposed Roberto’s proposal, said the group was disappointed with the commission’s recommendation.
“While a lot can be said about the efforts to impose conditions on the parking lot, it should have been obvious to the PZC members when discussing the conditions that no condition can allow parking lots to run. coexist with other commercial uses in the area, ”said Daniel. “With the recommendation of the PZC, five of its members indicated that any owner of residential land can face a late, noisy and unsightly situation when a business decides to extend its parking lot from a commercial district to a district. residential. As noted during deliberations, this same problem can occur along any of Elmhurst’s many corridors. “