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Residents question developer at continued zoning meeting

For three hours Wednesday, opponents of a distribution warehouse plan peppered representatives of the Arizona developer with questions looking for satisfactory answers on the redevelopment of the former Calumet Country Club.

Then, the Homewood Planning and Zoning Commission called it a night and set a third continuation date.

The meeting started Feb. 11 but was postponed at 10 p.m. per village code. It was stopped after 10 p.m. Wednesday and will resume at 1 p.m. on Feb. 25.

Homewood agreed to a settlement with developer Diversified Partners in January, in part to prevent the land being disconnected from the village and annexed by Hazel Crest. The agreement requires Homewood to consider rezoning the property from open lands to industrial use and to update the village’s land use plan to reflect that change.

Hazel Crest Mayor Vernard Alsberry said Tuesday he and village trustees do not support the development after previously saying the village was neutral.

Alsberry’s opponent in the coming election, Marcia Hollis-Bratcher, asked Wednesday if Diversified Partners was aware that the development would be built near several schools.

“I would appreciate it if you guys would say no to the zoning changes like your life depends on it because it does,” Hollis-Bratcher said. 

The planning and zoning commission makes recommendations to the village board, which has the final say in any zoning decisions. 

Cary Anderson, of Flossmoor, asked if any officials from Homewood or Hazel Crest were given money or favors by Diversified Partners or if any had a financial stake in the development. She also asked if any signed non-disclosure agreements. 

“The answer is no. That would be illegal,” Homewood Attorney Christopher Cummings said. 

Liz Varmecky, who represents the South Suburbs for Greenspace over Concrete group that formed last month in opposition to the project, asked about the 40 acres of open space included in the plan including a walking trail that was part of discussions at one point.

Matt Norton, an attorney representing Diversified Partners, said a public trail has been scrapped because it was determined to be “not practical.” Engineer Drew Walker said the estimated 40 acres includes only land within the borders of Homewood, not the eastern portion of the property that lies within Hazel Crest.

In an email to The Chronicle, Diversified Partner CEO Walt Brown Jr. said the land in Hazel Crest may be developed into retail shops and restaurants at some point in the future.

“We are sad to see a small group of people opposing us, lying about the facts knowing we have doubled the open space requirements and more than doubled the setback and added a very costly berm with added landscaping, only to protect the neighbors and hide the project,” Brown said. 

Walker said if permitting and zoning issues go smoothly, ground could be broken on the development in the fall.

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