By Bob Balgemann, REPORTER

 Safety usually isn’t a reason for someone to request a variance to the Village’s ordinance governing the width of a driveway. But such was the case that was heard Oct. 17 by the Machesney Park Public Improvement and Safety Committee. After all was said and done the Committee recommended approval of the request. The Village Board is expected to consider the matter at Monday night’s meeting. The property in question was at 1121 Minns Dr. and the request was for a driveway 40 feet in width. Village ordinance doesn’t allow a width of more than 30 feet for a single drive, or 24 feet wide if more than one driveway is needed. In addition, no more than two driveways are allowed for each 150 feet of contiguous frontage on a road. Despite all that the Village Board has reserved the right to waive width requirements. And that is what it will be asked to do Monday night.

Applicant Michael Williams currently has a 34-foot wide driveway at the entrance to a multi-family residence on Minns Drive. Public Works Superintendent Chad Hunter explained the variance was requested to better accommodate garbage trucks and tenants, who have problems with the entrance as they leave the area at the rear of the property used for parking. “The applicant has stated that due to the narrow entrance they are having issues with garbage trucks not having enough room to back out of the driveway, after they enter the property to empty the dumpster located in the rear parking lot,” Hunter wrote in a memorandum to the Committee. “The garbage trucks currently have to back over the grass area on the east edge of the driveway, causing a mud area,” he added. “The applicant believes approval of this (request) would also increase safety for the trucks and drivers not having to bump over the curb.” In addition to that, the applicant stated the variance would improve the curb appeal of the property. Neighbors, he said, have entrances to their property that are 48 feet wide and 55 feet wide. Village staff provided options for the Committee to consider.

First, officials generally agreed with the Village Code as written “unless the Committee feels that there is a hardship that has been placed upon this property, or owner, due to the size, shape, dimensions or location of a specific property.” Staff did believe there was a hardship because the owner’s driveway led to the back parking lot. Staff further agreed that approving the request would ease a vehicle’s ability to enter and exit the property from the rear parking lot. “If Committee members agree and feel that a hardship has been placed upon this property and a variance is warranted for this location, it is recommended that the Committee votes accordingly,” staff concluded.

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