Barb Gleespen was one of six Countryside residents who tried but failed to prevent the city council from giving an extension to the developer of the former city hall site. (Photo by Steve Metsch)  

Barb Gleespen was one of six Countryside residents who tried but failed to prevent the city council from giving an extension to the developer of the former city hall site. (Photo by Steve Metsch)  

Countryside extends timeline to develop old city hall despite residents’ concerns 

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By Steve Metsch 

Six residents tried to fight city hall.

They lost.

After hearing their impassioned objections to a proposed development that includes a gas station for trucks, the Countryside City Council voted in favor of giving the developer a six-month extension to present his plans for the land where the city hall once stood.

The council approved a second extension request for an approved preliminary/final plat of re-subdivision, and an extension request for an approved special use variation for the site at 5550 East Avenue.

Each vote was 4-2 at the April 12 meeting with two expected “no” votes from the aldermen who represent the First Ward. Tom Frohlich and John Finn voted in line with how many of their 1st Ward constituents feel. They also voted “no” on the first extension request six months ago.

The site is on the southwest corner of 55th Street and East Avenue. Some residents who live nearby fear an increase in noise, pollution, traffic and crime.

The development was a bone of contention in the recent municipal election during which the challengers and administration differed on the issue.

Residents who spoke out ripped city officials for paying little attention to their concerns.

Rosemary Dostal, who lives on 56th Street just south of the site, asked the council to “have a heart” adding “all of you live far away from this project and you just don’t care.”

Barb Gleespen, who ran for city clerk in the election, said that during the campaign she “talked to many people in all three wards and not one person was in favor of it.”

That negativity was not found on the campaign trail, said Mayor Sean McDermott who on April 4 won election to a third term.

“We heard during the campaign from a lot more than six residents and we heard overwhelming support for the proposed development throughout the city of Countryside,” McDermott said.

McDermott said residents are aware the city does not levy property taxes and needs revenue sources like sales tax from this site “to pay for the best police department in the state of Illinois, to pay for the best public works department in the state of Illinois.”

Several residents called the development nothing more than “a truck stop.” City officials have said a small grocery store also is planned.

A brew pub had been in the works, but that has fallen through, so the developer is seeking a new brew pub, City Administrator Gail Paul said.

Original plans called for a rooftop beer garden that residents opposed for noise concerns.

Beatriz Sutkus, who ran against Frohlich and lost by 47 votes, lives on 56th Street across from the old city hall.

“It is a truck stop. Trucks will be there,” she said. “When we brought it up to the residents, they were not aware of it.”

“You are our public servants. You are not dictators. You are here to serve us and what our wishes are,” she said. “I’m asking you to listen to us.”

The city has listened, McDermott said.

“We’ve made numerous accommodations to the project to lessen the impact on the neighborhood. We had the developer put in a 40-foot-wide berm that’s 12 feet high and will be covered with bushes and trees,” McDermott said.

A detention pond will be on the south side along 56th Street, providing “an additional buffer” against noise, he said.

McDermott noted there will be no ingress or egress to the site from 56th Street, only from East Avenue and 55th Street.

Asked about the residents who are worried about crime, McDermott said, “I don’t know where that’s coming from.”

The developer has until Oct 27 to submit plans to the city.

2 Comments

  1. Marie on April 20, 2023 at 9:31 pm

    “To pay for the best police department” he can build that joke of a police department and credit himself and spend thousands on a Christmas ornament but they fail to update their vehicles so they work correctly and are improperly equipped.
    Also failed to mention this gas station is going by our water tower.
    McDermott and his cronies do not care about the residents of Countryside.



    • Steven on April 30, 2023 at 2:14 pm

      Why is it a joke? They needed a new facility years ago! What is wrong with their vehicles exactly?



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