More people, more scarecrows at busy Fall Fest

  Keith Janowski plans to build a new garage for
  his Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck.

  (Provided photo)

Keith Janowski doesn’t beat around the bush when offering his opinion about Flossmoor’s restrictions on pickup truck parking restrictions. 

“It is the dumbest restriction I’ve ever heard of,” Janowski said. “You can own a truck, but you can’t keep it in front of your house. I have a brand new $45,000 pickup — it’s a really nice truck — and I can’t park it in front of my house. But if I had a 1980 rusted-out car, I could have it in my driveway?”
Janowski plans to build a second garage that is big enough to accommodate his 2017 Chevrolet Colorado. Village board members unanimously approved the project at their Jan. 16 meeting.
According to Flossmoor’s zoning regulations, pickup trucks can “only be parked within an enclosed garage,” not on the street or in a residential driveway. That regulation has been in effect for about 30 years and received national attention in the late 1980s when a Flossmoor homeowner challenged the restriction in court.
The restriction originally prohibited residents from even parking trucks in garages but the board changed that part of the zoning code shortly after the legal challenge was filed. The driveway parking ban was ultimately upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court. 
Last spring, Janowski and his family moved from Oak Lawn to their new home near Western Avenue School. The two-car attached garage that came with the house is not deep enough to accommodate his truck, which is 19 feet, 10 inches long. 
Since they moved in, he said he’s been able to pull the truck up far enough by the house so that it’s not visible from the street. Summer foliage also helped obscure the truck, So far, Janowski said, he’s been fortunate not to have received a citation. 
Before his luck runs out, Janowski decided to build a new garage that will fit his truck. He had to request a zoning variance for the new garage, which he plans to build to a height of 23 feet, 6 inches. Flossmoor’s building code limits “accessory buildings” such as garages and sheds to a height of 15 feet above the top of foundation, so Janowski needed approval from the village zoning board.
Scott Bugner, Flossmoor’s inspectional services administrator, said Janowski did the right thing by applying for a building permit; through that process, he learned about the height restriction.
“We always recommend to residents that if they’re planning on room additions, garages or other remodeling projects, that they contact the village and talk with us about it,” Bugner said. 
Even though he considers it an annoyance, Janowski said the whole issue gives him an excuse to build a new garage for his truck and riding lawn mower. The existing garage will remain to store his wife’s car and the couple’s motorcycle.
The garage’s extra height will provide a loft space, giving the family space for storage — something that helped make Janowski’s case to the board. In addition, the garage won’t abut any residential property and the plans show it has a “classy” look, with a pointed roof and finished windows.
“They don’t have a basement for storage and they have very large lawn equipment that needs to be kept in the garage,” Bugner said. “They also have a large lot, which played into the decision.”
All these factors led to the approval of what Bugner called a “pretty unique request” for the height variance.
Janowski, who works in construction, said he will probably build the garage himself after the spring thaw allows him to break ground. He estimates it will cost about $35,000 to construct. He’ll be able to haul the building materials in his big truck, which he also uses for hobbies.
Along with his wife, Renee Basick, Janowski does creative woodworking, building things like prop sets for plays and an intricate Halloween home display, which they hope to set up this year. The couple both have degrees in art, he said.
“We both have professional jobs, but we create things,” Janowski said. “Right now in our Florida room, we have two giant 8-foot tiki heads we built.”
Overall, Janowski said they have been happy with their move to Flossmoor. They got a good deal on their house and enjoy meeting neighbors.
“We love Flossmoor; it’s a great town. I’ve been blown away by how nice and friendly everyone is,” he said. “But I guess every town is going to have something and here it’s the truck ban.”

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