Planning and Zoning Board voted against recommending rezoning request for trucking company in split vote
By Josh Bootsma
LANSING, Ill. (October 31, 2021) – On Tuesday, November 2, the Village Board will hear a request from Paragon Freight Inc. to rezone the property located at 3125 Glenwood Lansing Road. The trucking company will seek to convince the board — despite significant resident opposition and a non-recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Board — that it can be a good neighbor to the residences near its property.
On October 13, Lansing’s Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals heard the same request, that the Village of Lansing rezone the property — which is the former home of Lansing Cut Stone — from B2 (community service and retail) to M1 (limited manufacturing). This change would allow Paragon Freight to use the property for semi trucks.
The October 13 meeting saw nearly 20 local residents come out to speak both against and for the proposal. That meeting resulted in a split vote by the Planning and Zoning Board, meaning the recommendation to the Village Board was to deny the rezoning request.
Paragon Freight moves in, residents concerned
Paragon Freight is a trucking company based out of Burr Ridge, and has been in operation since 2015. In early spring of this year, the company started an operation at 3125 Glenwood Lansing Road, having leased the property.
Paragon Freight General Manager Preston Bowers said property owner Alexandru Rusu told Paragon at the time that the property was “turnkey,” implying that Rusu would easily handle any zoning issues himself.
“We took him at his word and moved into the property and quickly found that it was kind of misrepresented to us,” Bowers told The Lansing Journal.
Meanwhile, the 3125 Glenwood Lansing Road property is immediately adjacent to multiple residences, across the street from a handful, and within earshot of and visible from dozens more. Some residents said they quickly felt the effects of the bright lights on the property at night, they heard trucks running until late, they smelled fumes of diesel trucks, and they saw headlights regularly in their houses as trucks entered and exited the property.
“They’ve disrupted our lives. They came in and they disrupted us with their truck traffic, and their fumes, and their noise,” said Roberta Buoscio during the public comment portion of the October 13 Planning and Zoning meeting. Buoscio lives directly next to the Paragon property.
Buoscio’s neighbor Kerry Gall posted a video on YouTube in October with a description that reads, “Taken at 11:30p on May 20th, 2021.” In the video multiple trucks appear to be running at night with headlights on.
First Planning and Zoning meeting
Building Commissioner Zoran Savic told The Lansing Journal that Paragon Freight was operating their business illegally when they first started operations in Lansing.
“Unbeknownst to [the Village of Lansing], they felt and thought that just having a state license, they were able to just simply begin work. They didn’t know they were going to be required to have any licenses from Lansing or anywhere else. I think they had good intentions,” Savic said.
On July 14, Alexandru Rusu came before the Planning and Zoning Board to request a rezoning.
“We thought that he was able to handle things at that meeting, and that was not the case,” Bowers said of Rusu. Bowers explained that he was deployed in the military during the July 14 meeting.
The matter was delayed to “give the petitioner more time to prepare,” said Steve Kasper, Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Board.
Shortly after the July 14 meeting, the Lansing Building Department issued a cease and desist order for Paragon Freight, halting trucking operations.
Since that time, Savic said Paragon have altered their lighting to obtain a lighting permit, and added a vinyl fence to some portions of the property to limit light and noise pollution.
Petitions regarding Paragon Freight
In August, neighbors Buoscio and Gall worked to create a petition to urge the Village of Lansing to disallow Paragon from doing business at the 3125 Glenwood Lansing Road location. The petition, which was signed by 59 local residents near the property, states, “Though we understand that business is a vital part of our Village’s future, this is not the right area for this type of business. We, the Resident Owners purchased our homes in this area because it WAS NOT zoned M1.”
Bowers told The Lansing Journal, “The petition that was written against us was bullshit. Yes, there were mistakes that the company made, but they presented us as a truck stop. They presented us as moving a 24-7 truck company into this property, and we never ever presented ourselves as that because it’s simply not true.”
Bowers said he walked the local neighborhood himself ahead of the October 13 meeting explaining what policies his company would be following at the property, if approved. He said he received 41 total signatures, and mentioned that 21 of the signers had also signed the original petition, but changed their mind after hearing his vision for the company’s commitment to getting along with the neighborhood.
October 13 Planning and Zoning meeting
On October 13, in front of the Planning and Zoning Board and nearly 20 local residents, Bowers laid out the vision he’d shared in his company’s petition. He explained that Paragon would abide by the following:
- Trucks on the property will not idle for more than five minutes.
- Paragon will close its business at 5 p.m., with potential activity lasting until 7 p.m. at the latest.
- No drivers will be on the property overnight.
- Trucks will only be parked on parts of the property not immediately adjacent to residences.
- Paragon will enclose the entire property with a six-foot vinyl fence.
- The property will be paved to avoid dust and noise caused by gravel.
- All yard lights will be on timers and limited to business hours.
Bowers also said the location would host only five or six trucks a week.
“It was a big business decision to dive into this and fight to be a part of the community. And any neighbor that got the chance to talk to me when I was making my rounds knows how sincere I am about wanting to do good business in the Village,” Bowers told the Planning and Zoning Board.
Multiple residents spoke in favor of Paragon, including one resident who said, “I think that we should give this trucking company an opportunity to come in and be a good neighbor.”
Another resident cited unemployment and vacancy numbers in the Village, and signed Paragon’s petition “in hopes to strengthen our current economic circumstances in Lansing.”
The louder chorus, however, was those speaking against Paragon. Multiple speakers who lived across Glenwood Lansing Road from Paragon cited bright lights in their houses at night and traffic hazards as concerns. One woman said, “My bedroom window is directly behind the property line. I have laid in my bed at twelve o’clock at night and heard trucks idling all night.”
After public comment, the attorney present on behalf of the Village reminded the Planning and Zoning Board that any change made to the zoning of the property applies not only to Paragon Freight, but to any future businesses that inhabit the property.
With one commissioner absent, commissioners Cole, Bazylewski, and De Laurentis voted to approve a recommendation to the Village Board while commissioners Hallow, Packard, and Chairman Kasper voted to deny. A split vote is not enough to approve a recommendation, meaning the recommendation to the Village Board is to deny Paragon Freight the zoning change.
Commissioner Grace Bazylewski told The Lansing Journal: “I voted yes because the Paragon management came prepared with appropriate answers and did work with the Village toward issue resolution. … There is also the economic consideration and tax revenue.”
Chairman Kasper explained his vote to deny as looking to the larger picture. “Once you change the zoning for a parcel of land, it remains until someone wants to rezone it. My problem with that is what happens if the property is sold and someone buys it and wants to use it for something that is not good for the community,” he said, adding that resident concerns should be important as well.
Village Board consideration
The November 2 Village Board Committee of the Whole agenda includes the request, where Board members will hear from Bowers or other representatives from Paragon Freight. Buoscio said she plans to attend the meeting as well. A final decision on the rezoning could take place as early as November 15.
“This is not about being against business. We understand that you need business for a community to thrive. It’s about putting the right business in the right location,” Buoscio said.
“It would be unfortunate to me if the [Village] of Lansing would choose to have a $60 million business leave the community,” Bowers said, adding that no other available property in Lansing could accommodate Paragon Freight.
Bowers said after the October 13 meeting “a couple Village officials” approached him. “They said they didn’t believe that this was the right decision and that they would look into this situation and they would also try to keep me updated on the tone of the [Village Board],” Bowers said.
The November 2 Village Board meeting will start at 7 p.m. at the Lansing Courthouse, located within the Lansing Police Department at 2710 170th Street, Lansing, IL. Contact information for trustees is available on the Village’s website.
Landon Ford contributed to this story.