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Countryside okays extension for development plans at former city hall site

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By Steve Metsch

The proposed business development at the corner of 55th Street and East Avenue in Countryside is not progressing quickly.

It’s not unusual when it comes to developments.

Because of that, the owner requested a six-month extension for approval of the final plans. Also, not unusual.

The Countryside City Council approved the extension by the narrowest of margins when two aldermen voted against it.

Also, not unusual when one considers the circumstances.

Ald. John Finn and Ald. Tom Frohlich represent the city’s 1st Ward where residents have voice opposition to the plans for the former and vacant city hall.

Hence, it makes perfect sense for each alderman to cast a “no” vote on the requested extension at the Oct. 26 meeting of the city council.

The extension was approved by a 3-2 vote.

The developer hopes to have things up and running in perhaps a year from now. A gas station, ethnic grocery store and brew pub with a rooftop beer garden are in the plans.

Finn, who has served on the city council since he was appointed by Mayor Sean McDermott in July 2016, said he had to vote as constituents prefer. And they don’t want that development, he said.

“Anyone who has lived next to city hall forever would prefer a park. Everything has been considered,” Finn said.

However, Finn did call the site “an anchor for economic development along 55th Street.”

Finn is looking forward to 55th Street being improved overall with curbs and lighting, as announced by IDOT several years ago.

Frohlich, who was appointed by McDermott in June 2021, said he voted against the extension because “residents prefer that the project not go forward.”

In other business, the council approved paying $9,457 to Payment Systems Inc., of Blue Island, for sealcoating the parking lot at the municipal complex, 803 Joliet Road.

In public comments, Jan Smid, who lives in the 700 block of Longview Drive, said he appreciated the resurfacing of the roadway this year.

“The only thing about it is they got rid of ‘Pothole Corner.’ If you’ve ever been there, you’ll know what I’m talking about,” he said.

Smid wondered “did the city ever consider putting stop signs at the Madison and Catherine (where they meet Longview) to possibly discourage people from other towns (driving) through.”

Speeders, he said, have been a problem for a long time.

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