Hermosa zoning change sparks debate

The City Council zoning committee today voted to allow development of retail businesses along a section of North Cicero Avenue that for the past 100 years has been zoned for auto sales and repair.

Committee chairman Ernie Banks said the change will be positive for the area, giving residents an opportunity to open non-automotive businesses along Cicero between Fullerton and Diversey.

But longtime 31st Ward resident Marge Stocckero repeatedly questioned the committee on their motives for the change.

"We all know what this is about. Money for big business," Stocckero said.

Stocckero said she wondered what will happen to longtime family businesses, and said she felt "belittled" by the committee.

Eventually, Banks cut her off.

"I am not impressed with your repeating the same question," Banks said.

Ald. Gene Shulter [D-47th Ward] has sponsored similar legislation in his ward, and said it sparked a renaissance of development.

Sponsoring Ald. Ray Suarez [D-31st Ward] sought to allay concerns of existing businesses that fear their license will be affected by the change.

"As long as you have a current license and obey all city codes, no one can take your license away," Suarez said.

The committee voted to approve the change, sending it to a full city council vote later this month.