By Bob Balgemann


The village of Machesney Park has various zoning districts that allow a variety of commercial and industrial uses. 

Sometimes a use doesn’t precisely fit in the zoning district to which it has been assigned. When that happens, a special use permit can be issued that allows the use to reside there. 

The village recently dealt with two such issues. One called for GPS Faith Community Church and its wish to begin holding services in a former restaurant and banquet facility at 11189 Forest Hills Road. 

That property housing the restaurant currently is zoned light industrial (IL). Churches and similar religious institutions are allowed in the office zoning district. They also are permitted as a special use in commercial and residential zoning districts. 

Given that, it was proposed that a text amendment to the village Zoning Code Article 13, Section Z-59, Churches and Similar Religious Institutions, be approved to allow churches as a special use in IL and general industrial (GL) zoning districts.

The planning and economic development committee (PED), one of three advisory committees of the village board, first heard the text amendment request at its Sept. 7 meeting. 

Planning and Zoning Manager Carrie Houston explained provided background on the agenda item. GPS Faith Community Church is wishing to relocate from its current location on North Second Street to the former restaurant/banquet building on Forest Hills Road. 

She said the text amendment would revise Article 13 of the Zoning Code to reclassify the “Churches and Similar Religious Institutions” use as a special use in the light industrial and general industrial districts.

“These two industrial zoning districts are in close proximity to each other, geographically,” she pointed out. “For the most part, they allow all the same uses. There are only few uses allowed in one of these districts and not in the other. Staff feels it makes sense to make to make these religious uses a special use in both IL and IG. 

“We do not recommend allowing these religious uses as a permitted use in industrial zoning. We believe each application for a church in industrial zoning should be considered on its own merits, and require (village) board approval, as they could have an undesired impact on the surroundings, or they could be proposed in a location that may be unsafe to access. 

“In addition, we advise that churches and religious institutions should never be an option in our heavy industrial district.”

Staff recommended approval of the text amendment, subject to six conditions. The planning and zoning commission (P&Z) also recommended approval at its August meeting, as did the PED on Sept. 7, with both accepting the staff conditions. Here are the conditions: 

* There may not be any amplified music outdoors. 

* Parking stalls shall be striped, with one for every three seats on the assembly area. 

* Parking shall not be allowed on the grass or along the roadway. All parking shall be on the subject property. 

* Signage shall comply with commercial regulations even though this is industrially zoned property, because this is more of a commercial use and those standards are more appropriate here. 

Those recommendations were forwarded to the village board for consideration on Sept. 20. 

The board subsequently agreed to waive the two-week layover for first and second readings of ordinances, allowing those readings to both take place on Sept. 20. 

Medical offices 

Also Sept. 7, Orput Gamma LLC petitioned the village for a text amendment because it wants to lease industrial space at 9950 N. Alpine Road, to a tenant wishing to conduct a therapy and wellness office from that location. 

Manager Houston explained this case to the PED. 

“This use is classified as an outpatient medical use,” she said, “and the property is zoning in the GI district. Currently, medical and dental clinics and outpatient medical facilities are permitted in office and commercial zoning districts, and are allowed as a special use in LI districts. 

“The proposed (text) amendment would change the commercial and industrial table of uses in the zoning code to make this a special use in the GI district as well.” 

She continued: “Staff does not recommend that these medical clinics should be permitted in industrial areas. However, in appropriate locations where there would be minimal impact and minimal traffic concerns, this use should be considered for a special use permit. In heavy industrial zoning, however, this use should never be considered.” 

Both staff and P&Z recommended approval of the text amendment and issuance of a special use permit to allow the therapy and wellness office at the North Alpine Road location. The village board followed with final unanimous approval at its Oct. 4 meeting, as part of the consent agenda.  

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