A look back: March 2020 edition

South Suburbs for Greenspace (SS4G) has set a greener Homewood as its goal.

The group, formerly organized as South Suburbs for Greenspace Over Concrete, shared its concerns and ideas at a forum on Monday, July 26, in the LaVoute Bistro and Bar’s parking lot.

Michelle Yates, an SS4G leader, receives a question from an audience member. (Andrew Burke-Stevenson/H-F Chronicle)

SS4G listed its interest in the Homewood zoning code update as a top priority. They applauded residents for their more than 150 responses to the village’s survey on the zoning code and thanked them for calling for a greener Homewood. Members also want Homewood to establish a green commission or an environmental justice commission.

Homewood is working with the urban planning firm Houseal Lavigne on updating the zoning code. SS4G called on the firm to take an environmental approach to the plan, with a ban on industrial zoning abutting residential neighborhoods. Several members said the village seems receptive to their suggestions.

The group’s members worked to defeat a rezoning proposal from open lands to light manufacturing of the former Calumet Country Club property at 175th Street at Dixie Highway. The property was purchased by Walt Brown of Arizona and his firm Diversified Partners as an investment site. 

Brown brought plans for a fulfillment center and trucking hub to the village. Although trustees were not happy with the deal, they agreed to consider his rezoning plan as a means of retaining the property in Homewood.

Brown’s representatives appeared before the Homewood Planning and Zoning Commission for a hearing on his proposed rezoning of the property to accommodate his business proposal. South Suburbs for Greenspace Over Concrete fought against the rezoning request that was rejected by the commission. The commission’s recommendation against rezoning was upheld by the Homewood Board of Trustees.

Brown then went into court and got the property de-annexed from Homewood. It is now an unincorporated Cook County parcel.

The group reorganized as SS4G, but members remain concerned about the property’s development but aren’t aware of Brown’s future plans. They have a concept for a sports complex combined with a natural park setting. SS4G also is encouraging community architects and designers to create concepts for the space.

One resident suggested applying for a grant to purchase the property, although it is not known if Brown would sell the site.

SS4G asked the community to continue to remain involved by filling out the survey, attending Homewood Planning and Zoning Commission meetings, emailing the commission and Houseal Lavigne, and using flyers and social media to share their message.

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