Residents in Clarendon Hills protest against Dunkin Drive thru; concerns of noise and road safety
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CHICAGO (CBS) – In the west suburbs, a NIMBY situation: not in my backyard.

What the residents in this next story are protesting might surprise you — at first.

Grab a cup of coffee – that’s a hint. Morning Insider Lauren Victory explains the plan that’s giving neighbors a jolt. 

It’s time to spring for something new on the site of the old Tracy’s Tavern at 401 E 55th St. in Clarendon Hills. The bar has been closed for years but what is proposed to go in its place is enraging people who live nearby. No, they’re not protesting an industrial plant or strip club – they’re adamantly against a Dunkin’ Donut’s drive-thru.

For starters, Michelle Dziura isn’t a fan of is the noise that will come with the coffee.

“You can’t start a power tool until 7 a.m. yet at 4 a.m. someone is going to be able to drive up here and yell their order,” said Dziura whose front door is open 100 feet from the lot.

The caffeine mecca would sit in the middle of several housing communities. There aren’t any other businesses for multiple blocks. Neighbors argue a coffee drive-thru just doesn’t fit.

“We’ve had a proposal for a medical office building,” said Don Davis of alternative ideas he and other drive-thru opponents have brought up to Village officials. 

The biggest concern for Davis and others is road safety especially with a business that funnels people in and out quickly. Developer KrohVan’s current plan calls for customers to exit to the right onto 55th Street. But KrohVan’s own traffic study concludes that will cause delays at the cross street, Western Avenue. Drive-thru opponents fear people trying to turn left from Western onto 55th might grow impatient with the increased traffic, then U-turn or cut through subdivisions.

“So, just putting that together, common sense indicates you’re going to have more potential accidents happening,” said opponent Romas Rupinskas.

KrohVan representatives declined an on-camera interview request from CBS 2 but in a statement said, “Quite simply, any project that goes on the Tracy’s Tavern site will impact traffic on Western and any driver that uses whatever goes over Tracy’s Tavern site could wind up making an illegal or unsafe maneuver.”

Standing at his kids’ bus stop up the street, Ijaz Goher says it does matter what goes in place of Tracy’s because school pickup is the same time that many go for a cup of Joe.

“This is just too high of a risk to take on for a neighborhood,” said Goher.

Clarendon Hills Zoning officials don’t think so. They’ve already recommended the drive-thru be approved.

The drive-thru’s fate is now in the hands of the Village Board of Trustees. It is up for discussion at the meeting on Monday, May 16. 

KrohVan initially proposed a gas station at the site in question but rescinded that plan. A previous site sketch included an entrance and exit onto Western Avenue that KrohVan has now reduced to just an entrance.

Here is the full statement from KrohVan to CBS 2:

As you will ascertain we are developing a commercial project on land that is zoned to allow our development, and allows for the drive thru using the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) process. That is what the ZBA/PC approved, not a rezoning or a variance as some objectors have claimed. 

The reality is that the CUP process allows the Village to exert influence over our entire site design, including access. Any other development proposed that does not require a CUP, such as a bar, liquor store, veterinary center, restaurant or retail center would only need to apply for a building permit. No restrictions on access could be imposed. So while the drive thru is the real topic, discussions of 24 hour gas stations and such are moot points. Those have been off the table for months. 

Our development of this site regardless of a drive thru will impact Western as our traffic study demonstrated. Any development of the site will impact Western. Our request to the Village to consider allowing signalization of the intersection was met with a firm no at this time, regardless of how it might be funded. Any development [sic] that does not require ZBA/PC approval may have vehicles performing illegal or possibly unsafe manuvers [sic]. By eliminating any exit from our site to Western we eliminate traffic entering the site from the south or exiting the site going south, thru the neighborhood. 

The Village is using the conditional use permit process, as the current zoning allows, to control how this site is redeveloped. Many options that meet the current zoning, will not require ZBA/PC approval and could simply use the existing full access drive on Western for all of the vehicles entering and leaving the site.

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