Trustees want more retail merchants

Bank’s bid for Ogden location triggers broader talk on taxes and land use strategy

To make the most of Hinsdale’s prime and precious commercial property, village officials are keen to embrace businesses that contribute to the sales tax coffers.

Firms like Lakeside Bank, which has applied for a special use permit to open a branch at 222 E. Ogden Ave., do not get the welcome mat treatment in an effort to protect the high-traffic Ogden corridor for retail merchants rich in revenue.

At the Dec. 8 village board meeting, trustees discussed both the bank’s application and the overarching desire to rewrite the zoning code to screen out first-floor service firms.

Trustee Scott Banke suggested the village’s fiscal health depends upon leveraging opportunities to reap sales tax.

“I think that we not only have an obligation as far as (protecting) revenue generation in areas where we can generate revenue, but also we’re coming off the heels of COVID ... and it’s going to present (financial) challenges,” Banke said.

Last month the village’s plan commission recommended approval of the bank’s application to construct a two-story facility at the site, where a vacant medical office building currently stands. However, commissioners were under the false impression that first-floor banks were a permitted use in the B-3 district. They are a special use under the zoning code requiring village board approval.

Village President Tom Cauley cited a 2008 Illinois Supreme Court ruling that affirmed Hinsdale’s authority to prohibit a bank from moving into the former GM training site on Ogden, which is now a Land Rover dealership. Technically, under the village’s code, all first-floor banks in town are legal non-conforming uses.

Trustee Luke Stifflear pointed out that other non-sales tax generating businesses, such as real estate offices and hair salons, are permitted uses and could occupy the site without needing approval. Consequently, he stressed, the village should act comprehensively to more effectively control the corridor.

“If we don’t approve (the bank), we need to write our (zoning) map for along Ogden Avenue to specifically (allow only) 100-percent sales tax revenue,” Stifflear said.

Cauley agreed.

“We should address that whole corridor and say that we don’t want things there that don’t generate sales tax revenue,” he said, questioning the community’s need for another bank. “I think we have to think long and hard before we put more businesses in that area that aren’t garnering any sales taxes.”

Peter Coules, an attorney representing Lakeside Bank, argued that the size of the site is not suitable for a typical retail establishment and that such a use would be less palatable for nearby residents.

“This bank is going to be a good neighbor to everyone because people aren’t there working until 7 o’clock at night and they’re not there on Sundays,” Coules said, speculating that the property will remain vacant for years under trustees’ more restrictive vision.

Trustee Laurel Haarlow said another factor is the impending removal of the Hinsdale Oasis overpass due to the Tri-State expansion project, expected to take a big bite out of village tax receipts.

The bank’s application was a first read and is expected to be on the board’s agenda again at the Tuesday, Jan. 5, meeting, when trustees are also expected to consider a proposed amendment regarding businesses in the Ogden corridor.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean