Photo by Dermot Connolly
A notice of a public hearing to discuss the possible rezoning of the Our Lady of the Ridge School and Church property has raised concerns among some residents, but village officials say it is nothing to worry about.
A public hearing notice recently erected outside Our Lady of the Ridge School regarding the possible rezoning of the parish school and church in the 10800 block of South Ridgeland Avenue has caused a stir on social media.
But some village officials have said the concern is unwarranted.
The hearing will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 24 at Chicago Ridge Village Hall, 10455 S. Ridgeland Ave. The Village Board recommended the rezoning following a brief discussion at a special meeting held on Feb. 1, after the Archdiocese of Chicago announced that Our Lady of the Ridge School would be closing permanently when the school year ends in June. The five trustees present voted in favor of making the change. Only Trustee Bill McFarland was absent. He was on vacation at the time.
But many residents said on the Chicago Ridge Neighborhood Watch page on Facebook that beginning the rezoning process so soon and placing the sign up while the school is still open was hurtful to the students watching their school close. Others were not aware of the special meeting and thought something was being snuck through. The pastor, Rev. Wayne Svida, could not be reached for comment this week, but parishioners said he spoke about the issue at weekend Masses.
According to the map on the sign, the entire block owned by the Archdiocese, stretching from 108th to 109th Street between Ridgeland and Oxford avenues, as well as a parking lot south of 109th Street, could be rezoned from R-1 (residential) to C-3 (regional shopping district). But Trustee Fran Coglianese said it would actually be changed to C-2, a commercial shopping district.
“C-3 is usually for shopping centers, like the Chicago Ridge Mall,” said Coglianese, who has received “a lot of calls” from concerned residents since the sign went up last week.
“The rezoning is a good thing. It is not going to change the church. It’s our church, as long as it is here. The rezoning would only affect the church site if the Archdiocese decides to sell it,” she said.
“The only change is, we are upping the value of the property by changing the zoning,” said the trustee. “Property in a C-2 zone is worth much more than in an R-1. We’re actually helping the Archdiocese if they decide to sell the school property. I really feel it is a plus for the Archdiocese.”
“The village has to look to the future. The Carson’s store in Chicago Ridge Mall brought in $473,000 in tax revenue to the village last year. With it closing, we won’t have that next year,” she noted. “This is just being proactive.”
Coglianese said that leaving the zoning residential would not be worthwhile. Although houses are located on Ridgeland now, they were built when it was a quieter street. It has become a busy thoroughfare since the Chicago Ridge Mall opened, and is now lined with businesses, in addition to Chicago Ridge Mall a few blocks north.
“I can’t imagine very many people would build a house on that section of Ridgeland now,” said the trustee.