Alderman Flores rejects zoning for dry cleaner

EVA treasurer Brodi Cole accompanied Ald. Manny Flores (1st Ward) on a tour of a Lake View dry-cleaning plant March 14 after members declined to support a zoning change to open a similar plant on Chicago Avenue. The alderman's office issued this statement on March 30:

I am writing to give you an update regarding the proposed zoning change at 1916 W. Chicago Avenue. As you may recall, the CD One Price Cleaners company was interested in renting out the commercial space at the above address to open a dry cleaning pick-up site with an on-premise dry cleaning plant. This necessitated a change in the zoning from B3-2 to a C1-2 to allow for an on-premise dry cleaning plant with more than 2 employees.

Before making a final decision on the proposal, I and a few neighbors visited an existing CD One Price Cleaners facility to view the dry cleaning operations. The store was well-lit, well-kept and was a generally well-run operation. However, when I asked employees about the safety and clean-up procedures in place in the event of a solvent spill, I did not get a knowledgeable response from store employees. This was a cause for real concern.

Although CD One Price Cleaners does not use the highly toxic perchloroethylene (perc) solvent, it does utilize a hydrocarbon, or petroleum-based, cleaning solvent. The EPA lists this solvent as a neurotoxin and as a skin/eye irritant, necessitating careful and immediate clean-up in the case of a spill.

Therefore, based on the fact that store employees did not appear to be properly trained on safety and clean-up procedures in the event of a solvent spill, I did not feel a sufficient level of comfort to approve a zoning change to allow the CD One Price dry cleaning plant operation at 1916 W. Chicago Avenue.

If you have any additional questions or comments regarding this matter, please feel free to communicate with me via e-mail at ward01@cityofchicago.org or via phone at (773) 278-0101.

Sincerely,

Raymond Valadez
Chief of Staff for
Alderman Manuel Flores
2058 N. Western Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 278-0101
(773) 278-2541 (fax)

Please note: If you would like to be added to the First Ward informational electronic mailing list, please sign-up at our website, www.flores1stward.com

Landmark tax breaks at April EVA meeting


Landmarking a building or neighborhood is said to have many values. But some you can take to the bank.

Have you ever talked to someone who is saving thousands of dollars every year on their taxes by investing in renovating a landmark building? Dan Nehm, a long term East Village resident, will share his experience in doing just that at the April meeting of the East Village Association on Monday (not Tuesday) April 6.

Nehm's renovation was already under way when the city's Ukrainian Village landmark district was created. He proceeded with his renovation plans and learned the rules for applying for a freeze of his real estate taxes. Join us to hear how easy the process is, and the savings he has received.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott. Also on the agenda: an update on plans to move the Wicker Park post office.

Flutes at Piccolo? Bar, appetizers on menu


By Phil McFarland, Piccolo

859 N. Damen, Chicago 60622, 773-772-3355


Piccolo plans to expand the menu during summer 2009. To do this, we'll be applying for an incidental liquor license for the cafe as allowed by right with the B3-2 zoning of the business district we're in on Damen from Iowa to Augusta.

We would offer primarily beer and wine as that best fits the menu that we offer but would of course have spirits available for those that wanted them.

The beer list to date is envisioned to include 10-15 bottle placements including lagers such as Peroni, Belgian farmhouse-style ales and other quality craft brews that have proven popular at SmallBar.

It is also our plan to offer a variety of wines available by the glass and some by the bottle. This will include champagne and other sparkling options. As of yet we have not determined the size of the list we feel is appropriate.

We intend to create a small list of custom cocktails such as a refreshing, lime sorbet mixed with club soda and vodka. Or a flute of champagne mixed with a raspberry sorbet. This list is still in the works but will focus on interactions with our sorbet and other existing items.

To compliment these new offerings, we will be creating more plates that can be enjoyed by a group over a glass of wine. This may include olive plates, antipasti platters with fresh cheeses and cured meats and other items along those lines.

Finally, we will also be adding a high-top seating section to accommodate 10-12 people. This will be in the back of the room for those that want a more casual, lounge atmosphere while dining with us in the evening.

We hope that our continued honest and open operation and our community involvement with the local chambers of commerce, schools, park groups and local events will help local residents feel confident in their support of our incidental liquor license application.

CD One Price Cleaners pressed in plant tour

1916 W. Chicago Ave.

By Brodi Cole

A tour of the CD One Price Cleaners facility on 2955 N. Ashland was arranged March 14 by Ald. Manny Flores. (1st Ward). The location is described to be similar to the proposed location that owner Mike Coreao wants to open at 1916 W. Chicago Ave., at Winchester.

During this tour, there were opportunities to see the plant and discuss concerns with both the alderman and owner. When Coreao spoke at an East Village Association meeting in January, attendees at the meeting expressed a number of concerns, especially regarding traffic and environmental issues.

Regarding traffic (including the adjacent alley), Coreao did mention that traffic would increase, but mostly from customers since locations only average one delivery per week. Because the delivery trucks are typically about the size of a UPS truck, there should be minimal issues getting them into the alley for delivery. At the Ashland location, the delivery trucks just unload in the street. Coreao did mention that he is concerned about parking, but that three existing locations (including the one on Ashland) have basically no parking and everything works out, from his business’ perspective.

At the EVA meeting, some members got the impression that he wanted to market CD One Price as a “green cleaner,” which they clearly are not (according to Flores, who demonstrated having done a lot of research before the tour). Coreao did say that the facility is not truly “green” like Greener Cleaner on Damen, but that they use a hydrocarbon solvent that is not as bad as some other chemicals.

He also said they use better machines that use only 10% the solvent that standard machines use, and each one uses 9 liters of solvent versus the standard 5 gallons. (Note that 9 liters is actually 20% of 5 gallons, not 10%.). They also recycle hangers but not plastic bags (something about which Flores was concerned).

When asked if he planned to advertise or mention in any way that CD One Price is a green cleaner, Coreao hesitated before he responded no, they are “greener but not green.” This distinction was made only when the point was pressed, and contrary information is stated on the company’s website: "the latest high tech, environmentally friendly cleaning equipment.”

Flores was also very concerned with the solvent used in the cleaning process, which is delivered in the weekly schedule every 3 or 4 weeks. When there are spills, the cleaned up mess is kept sealed on site until a hazardous-materials pick-up is scheduled. Spills and related issues are strictly regulated by OSHA, and there are very large fines to pay, so it is unlikely that any sane company would willingly violate these regulations. It is important to note that we would be adding a business that uses hazardous material, something that is clearly not environmentally friendly.

When asked about complaints by neighbors of the Ashland location regarding the smokestacks, etc. Mike said that steam from the press vent did go into the house next door, but they addressed it by redirecting the pipe so it stopped. He said they have not received smell complaints. This information was not verified by visiting the neighbors or nearby businesses.

Flores was asked why he scheduled the facility tour after it seemed apparent that EVA was not interested in this cleaner moving to the neighborhood. Flores said he had not met with EVA. Flores held a hearing for residents of the 800 block on Winchester but he wanted to see for himself if the zoning should be changed.

One cause of great unease is that according to Coreao, the average CD One Price Cleaner location does $1 million in business each year. In looking at our neighborhood, and the cleaners we already have, I am concerned that having One Price Cleaners set up shop on Chicago Avenue would be just like Wal-Mart moving into a small town, and that it would undersell the existing dry cleaners and drive them under.

The company’s website supports that concern, stating that “while the small, neighborhood dry cleaner … would like to compete with us on price they typically can’t do it.” If small cleaners cannot compete with the pricing, one wonders how small cleaners could keep customers.

Our neighborhood is not densely populated and dominated by high-rises the way that Lincoln Park is, so I do not know that we can support a megalith dry cleaner like they can. Personally, I am much more concerned about CD One Price’s effect on local businesses than I am other aspects of their potential move (like traffic and environmental issues). While all of us want to save money in a tough economy, should we be willing to sacrifice the livelihoods of our neighbors to do so?

Block out Do Division, West Fest weekends

President Message by John Scheer 

The East VIllage Association has a new set of officers. I want to extend a wholehearted thank-you to officers who have helped support the EVA group during this past year: Thank you to Brian Thompson for his support as treasurer and other roles in prior years. And thanks to Joe Hunnewinkel for his support as secretary. We look forward to both of you continuing your involvement in EVA. Thank you to Greg Nage rleturning as vice president, and to the other board members for their continued contribution.

Spring is in the air. We have moved to daylight savings time, the weather has warmed and the sidewalk cafes are open for the season. Neighborhood activity is picking up as everyone emerges from their winter seclusion. Now is also the time for everyone to renew their safety programs. There has been an increase in the number or reported break-ins and robberies. Please be careful.

The summer festivals are getting scheduled too. Do Division (May 30-31) and West Fest (July 11-12) will return this year. West Fest is looking to expand its appeal by creating a Pet Fest. There have been early indications that Around the Coyote also may be in and around Division Street this year. These are good ways to enjoy a Chicago weekend and stay close to home. We should all look for ways to help the hundreds of street festgoers get the best impression of our neighborhood.

The East Village continues to welcome more neighbors to join and be part of our community. Greg Nagel chairs the EVA membership committee and has already been scheduling attractions to draw more participation. If you have taken the time to renew your EVA membership for 2009, I thank you. If you are still pending, please renew soon so that you can retain your voting privileges. And if you prefer to remain a non-member, you are welcome and encouraged to still attend the EVA monthly meetings. Your support will be put to good use.

Being green will produce more $$green$$

By Greg Nagel

Sometimes we have to choose between doing the right thing for the environment and our pocketbook. But thanks to President Obama's stimulus plan, we can have our cake and eat it too.

In basic terms, the American Investment and Recovery Act of 2009 calls for a 30% tax credit up to $1,500 per primary home, starting in tax year 2009, for energy efficient furnaces, air conditioners, and water heaters installed in 2009 and 2010. The credit is based on total installed cost, so a $5,000 install would max out the $1,500 credit.

The law extends some previously available tax credits. Find details from the American Institute of Architects on what you can claim on taxes this year. The federal Energy Star site goes into more detail on what products qualify.

Less common equipment can qualify, like electric and geothermal heat pumps, natural hot gas boilers, and circulation fans. Required specs are in this summary developed by the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning industry. More tax credits are available for hydrogen vehicles, solar wind, and other items.

As mentioned in Marjorie Issacson's article, Chicagoan get new furnace rebates Chicago has a "free money rebate" on much of the same equipment. So between the federal tax credits, Chicagoland rebates, and monthly energy savings, there is a pretty compelling financial argument that green is $$green$$.

One final tip: Many installers like to bury high labor costs in the supposed cost of the materials. Therefore, when I work on HVAC on my own development projects, I purchase my own equipment wholesale, then have the installers bid the labor only. The cost savings is quite significant. Feel free to email me and I'd be happy to refer you to sources for wholesale equipment and reputable installers that will bid out labor only.

Local, Global and Green Conference. Learn what opportunities await small businesses March 28 from 9:30 am to 2 pm at the UIC Student Center (750 South Halsted Street). There will also be representatives from local, county, state, and federal small business aid agencies and a small business workshop. For more information please visit: paccgc.org.

Board meeting minutes for March 9, 2009

Submitted by Dana Palmer


Attendance


Board Members: John Scheer, Greg Nagel, Brodi Cole, Dana Palmer, Rich Anselmo, Scott Rappe and Stephen Rynkiewicz


Non-Board Members: Marjorie
Isaacson, Joe Hunnewinkel and Brian Thompson



  1. Brodi Cole and Dana Palmer made the transition to official Board members as treasurer and secretary.


  2. John Scheer declared that the change was made to the bylaws eliminating absentee/proxy voting. Stephen Rynkiewicz stated bylaw update has been added to EVA website.


  3. John Scheer requested a possible change of the monthly membership meetings from the first Tuesday of the month to the first Monday of the month on a temporary basis.


  4. Stephen Rynkiewicz informed the Board of updates to the website that included the bylaw change. He also discussed a letter that was received from Jacob Wheeler, a fellow neighbor and journalist asking EVA about their thoughts on a new newspaper for the neighborhood due to the discontinuation of the East Village Chicago Journal.


  5. Greg Nagel agreed to make contact with local businesses regarding their interest in becoming EVA members and purchasing advertising space. He also expressed ideas about recruiting new EVA members such as everyone bring a neighbor to a meeting.


  6. Suggestions for April membership meeting included possible permit review for 4842 Wolcott, potential urban gardening speakers and Dan Nehm regarding Real Estate tax freeze with landmark renovations. Greg Nagel also agreed to make a final effort to have post master for Wicker Park Station come to EVA meeting.


  7. EVA received a thank you letter from Sister Ann Schaffer regarding donation to Koska Soup Kitchen at St. Stanislaus.


  8. Brian Thompson reported that a transfer of funds was made from the paypal account.


  9. Scott Rappe relayed that ST. Boneface demolition permit was granted.


  10. Rich Anselmo reported on his visit with Alderman Waguespack regarding the possible liquor moratorium lift.


  11. Meeting adjourned.


Library to open at Chicago-Ashland Goldblatt's early in 2010

By Aaron Bilton 

Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey expects the city Department of Consumer Services to vacate space in the Goldblatt's building at Chicago and Ashland by mid- to late April.

At that point the Chicago Public Library, along with the Department of General Services, will be able to get to work remodeling the new library branch there.

Money for the project has been budgeted and it appears everything is lined up to go forward. Dempsey expects the new library to open sometime in the first quarter of 2010.

Reservations about Chicago-Winchester restaurant

Parking can be a challenge even picking up a pizza on Chicago Avenue. So residents near Chicago and Winchester were skeptical about plans for a restaurant at that seats 364.

Developer Bill Loumbardias on April 3 submitted details on his restaurant proposal for at 1924 W. Chicago to the East Village Association’s planning committee. At the March 2 general meeting, members peppered Loumbardias with questions about the 5,500-square-foot dining hall and kitchen, and he has asked for another appearance to address their concerns.

It would be the first restaurant for Loumbardias, who sells high-end used cars at Lakeshore Motorcars but is from a family involved with the Giordano's and Boston Blackie's chains.

"The neighbors' fear is that after 9 at night you're going to turn into a cacophony of sound," said David J. Stumm Sr., a volunteer coordinator for the police beat there. While Loumbardias emphasized that the restaurant would not be a nightclub, he plans fundraising events in a private room and adjacent space seating 75. "My family is political," he explained.

The April proposal from attorney Marino & Assoc. said the restaurant is not seeking an amusement license "at this time."

Alley access would be tight and valets busy, residents said. They also asked where an exhaust stack could be located for minimal impact. The upper two stories facing Chicago Avenue would be residential, Loumbardias said.

Raymond Valadez, chief of staff for Ald. Manuel Flores, said residential zoning along the alley would have to be waived. Past plans for the corner would have razed the building for condos.

A bylaws change was ratified 19-2 to eliminate absentee voting. "There's something that's important about showing up and listening to a presentation," said Aaron Bilton, a past EVA president.

Members set new EVA officers in place for 12 months, elevating Brodi Cole to treasurer and Dana Palmer as secretary and returned John Scheer and Greg Nagel as president and vice president.

The new officers went right to work at the board meeting a week later. Planning chair Scott Rappe said the city had issued a demolition permit for St. Boniface Church but stated it was continuing to work with the Archdiocese of Chicago to find other uses for the church at 921 N. Noble St.

The next membership meeting is Monday, April 6 in the Happy Village Tavern, at Thomas and Wolcott. The meeting is likely to include an update on the Wicker Park post office. The station chief canceled a scheduled March appearance.

How would you remake the Polish Triangle?

Planners will hold a weekend open house to gather great thoughts on improvements at Ashland, Division and Milwaukee.

They'll set up shop Saturday and Sunday, March 21 and 22, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at a vacant storefront near 1275 N. Milwaukee (just south of the Radio Shack).

The open house will feature hands-on exhibits and activities to get people thinking about what would make the Polish Triangle a more appealing destination.

To take the online survey described in the EVA newsletter, click here.

For more Polish Triangle news from the East Village Association, click here.