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Hairston Backs Off Rezoning As Solution To 71st Street's Problem Businesses

By Sam Cholke | July 3, 2017 8:35am | Updated on July 7, 2017 11:12am
 Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said Tuesday at an over-capacity ward meeting that she was now reconsidering down zoning 71st Street and wanted to study it more before acting.
Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said Tuesday at an over-capacity ward meeting that she was now reconsidering down zoning 71st Street and wanted to study it more before acting.
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DNAinfo/Sam Cholke

SOUTH SHORE — Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) is reconsidering a plan to change much of the zoning of 71st Street to residential in an effort to get control over what businesses move to the commercial strip.

Hairston said at her ward meeting last week she’s withdrawn her ordinance to change the zoning on 71st Street from Stoney Island Avenue to South Shore Drive and has brought in Skidmore, Owings and Merrill to study the issue with a group of community residents.

She said she now thinks the issue deserves more detailed study for several months before taking any action.

In May, Hairston broached the idea of stripping away the commercial zoning for 71st so new businesses would have to come to her for approval of a zoning change before being able to open on the street. She said at the time it was an effort to limit the number of nail salons, convenience stores, beauty supply shops and other stores she said currently monopolize much of the space along the street.

The plan hit roadblocks when building owners complained it would diminish the value of their property and Hairston started to make exceptions for building owners and businesses she approved of on the strip.

Susan Campbell, a South Shore resident who’s leading Hairston’s zoning group and director of the Cook County Department of Planning and Development, said the group will now focus on key intersections on 71st Street at Stony Island Avenue, Jeffery Boulevard and South Shore Drive.

“Rather than [change the zoning of] the corridor, we’re looking at ideas to affect those key areas,” Campbell said.

She said even when the group decides on a recommendation for a path forward and Hairston implements it, it may still take a long time to see a turnaround in the types of businesses opening on 71st Street.

“It’s probably going to take a year for something to happen because of the challenges in place,” Campbell said.

Hairston said she has not entirely given up on the idea of changing the zoning on the street, but will wait until she hears what the community and planners recommend.