Village trustees weigh past mistakes and future implications in Paragon Freight rezoning decision

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Paragon Freight
Paragon Freight is directly adjacent to a handful of residential properties, and near dozens more. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Podgorski: “If we turn this down, we might get something in B2 which might be worse”

By Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (November 5, 2021) – Tuesday night’s marathon Village Board Meeting included an item that has been the topic of discussion for many residents in Lansing — the proposed rezoning of 3125 Glenwood Lansing Road to accommodate Paragon Freight, a trucking company.

Paragon General Manager Preston Bowers appeared before the board to make a petition similar to the one he made during the October 13 Planning and Zoning Meeting. That meeting resulted in a split vote, meaning Planning and Zoning did not recommend approval of the rezoning.

The petition requests that 3125 Glenwood Lansing be rezoned from B2 (community service and retail) to M1 (limited manufacturing). The ultimate decision on the proposal is up to the Village Board. They heard Paragon’s presentation as well as public comment during the Committee of the Whole meeting on November 2.

Bowers said the location will serve primarily as a “fleet prep yard,” where Paragon will prepare and outfit new trucks for use in their fleet. He added that the yard could serve some maintenance needs for the company as well. He also said Paragon has purchased a property in Sauk Village capable of accommodating truckers who need to park overnight, to address a concern expressed by residents who live near Paragon’s Lansing property.

Podgorski adds background

Before either Paragon Freight or members of the public made their cases Tuesday, Village Administrator Dan Podgorski spoke for about 20 minutes. He added background to the discussion and called attention to what alternatives to Paragon Freight might look like.

Podgorski explained that although the entire commercial area at the southwest corner of Glenwood Lansing Road is zoned as B2, it functions much like an M1 district.

“Historically, that area was always manufacturing; it was always M1 up until about 2003, the last time the Village went through a zoning ordinance revision,” Podgorski said. “And then, for reasons that I really could not recall and tell you right now, the area was rezoned B2. Even though it’s B2, the area really presents itself as a manufacturing district.”

Podgorski was Lansing’s mayor in 2003 when the area was rezoned.

Paragon Freight
Paragon Freight (marked by a green star above) is located in an area that is zoned as B2 (indicated in red). None of the businesses in the red area southwest of Burnham and Glenwood Lansing Road comply with that zoning, having been grandfathered in before the 2003 zoning change. Click the image to view the full Lansing zoning map (PDF).

Podgorski noted that businesses currently in that district — Competition Transmission, Eenigenburg Manufacturing, and Cytek Hydraulics — were grandfathered in. The intention in 2003, he said, was that any future businesses moving to that area would need to be B2-eligible businesses.

Podgorski impugns B2 alternatives

“If [3125 Glenwood Lansing Road] doesn’t get rezoned, it will stay B2,” Podgorski said. “And what does that mean? It means that as a municipality we start looking at other B2 uses to start putting in here. … We’re going to start looking for places like a grocery store, a fast food place, a Walgreens, a CVS, something that’s B2.”

“If we put a B2 use in that area, you’re going to have a lot more headlights coming out of that parking lot, you’re going to have a use that’s probably open until eight, nine, ten o’clock,” he continued, adding that such a business would not have to come before the Planning and Zoning Board or the Village Board unless they intended to utilize a drive-thru.

“I think we have to be careful what we say ‘no’ to, because what we might have to say ‘yes’ to could be worse,” Podgorski said, later adding, “If we turn this down, we might get something in B2 which might be worse for the same reason you’re opposed to [Paragon].”

Village Administrator Dan Podgorski (Photo: Josh Bootsma, October 2021)

Trustees ask questions of Podgorski, Paragon

After Paragon’s presentation (see October 31 article), all six Village Trustees had at least one question for the company, with some questions directed to Podgorski about the longer-term implications of rezoning the property.

One issue of discussion focused on the reality that once rezoned, 3125 Glenwood Lansing Road will perpetually be an M1 district, regardless of what specific business occupies the property. On this point, Trustee Saad Abbasy asked, “Is there a way in our current zoning ordinances to find a way to allow Paragon to operate but not give blanket approval for future uses?”

Village Trustee Saad Abbasy (Photo: Josh Bootsma, October 2021)

Podgorski answered, in part, by saying, “We’d develop a covenant or some use standards for this particular site that will run with the business license.” He added that a future trucking or manufacturing-type business would be permitted to operate at the location from a zoning perspective, but would still require a business license from the Village. That business license could include certain use standards, Podgorski suggested, and non-compliance could result in the business losing its license.

Trustee Smith touched on another topic, asking Paragon, “What happens to your long-term lease if this location is voted down for the zoning change?”

The attorney representing Paragon responded, “Unfortunately, this probably ends up in my lap, and we end up in litigation,” meaning Paragon would take legal action against property owner Alexandru Rusu, who Paragon feels did not accurately represent their interests.

Rusu first came before the Planning and Zoning Board in July and was not present at Tuesday’s Village Board meeting. He received a slew of negative reviews during Tuesday’s meeting, prompting Bowers to say, “We’ve established that the competence in his interaction with the Village was not there.”

Podgorski said, “He presented on behalf of Paragon. Did a horrible job. He started running his own trucks through there before he had a business license, before the property was rezoned. Got everybody ticked off. Did a terrible job. I’d like to say a couple other words right now, but I’m not going to. He really set this petition up for failure because he didn’t follow the rules.”

Next meeting and public input

Three members of the public spoke against Paragon during the public comment portion of the meeting. The Village Board then moved on to Old Business, and Trustee Abbasy invited those residents present to contact him and share their thoughts.

The Village Board will vote to approve or deny the rezoning at its November 16 meeting, which will occur at 7 p.m. at the Lansing Courthouse, located within the Lansing Police Department at 2710 170th Street in Lansing.

Trustees’ contact information is included below:

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Ignoring the the concerns of those citizens affected by this environmental issue is WRONG! Just imagine if a trucking company was next to your home…. The property was zoned in 2003 to prevent this. Why are things different now? Is it the demographics?

  2. There are better places for trucks; like the mall on 167th and torrence, which hardly would bother anyone and is closer to 80/94

  3. Two questions–
    1. Will the residents that border this project get a tax abatement since their property values will tank, and
    2. How is it Podgorski doesn’t remember his business dealings when he was Mayor. Since he seems to have a head for the projects at hand today, I can only assume it is selective memory.

    This needs further scrutiny. The project and Podgorski.

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