By Joe Boyle
An overflow crowd voiced their disapproval over parking restrictions for RVs and other utility vehicles along their homes in Palos Hills during a hearing last week.
A standing-room only crowd appeared at the hearing that was held before the scheduled committee of the whole and city council meetings. Due to the length of the hearing, abbreviated versions of the meetings followed later than scheduled.
Residents came out in force stating their objections to restrictions to the number of RVs, campers, trucks and boats that can be found in their driveways.
Ald. Mark Brachman (2 nd) drew the ire of the residents when he said that the ordinance would not be removed. But then he reiterated that changes could be made to the ordinance.
One person said that Palos Hills is a hidden gem because it had few restrictions.
“People want to live in this community because it is not a gated community,” one resident said. “This is a blue-collar community.”
Residents were angry with an ordinance officer who has been writing tickets where he sees an excess of boats and larger vehicles in driveways that may also be parked near the curb and over sidewalks. Board members that the ordinance officer is doing the job that she was asked to do. Ald. Mike Lebarre (3 rd) told residents that if they have questions about ordinances or other issues to contact their alderman.
Ald. Martin Kleefisch (1 st), whose ward has had homes cited for an excess of RVs, campers and boats filling up some driveways, said the ordinance was made with the best intentions.
“The ordinance was made by reasonable people,” Kleefisch said. “I want our city to be attractive and a safe city to live in. I may not agree with everything being said tonight but I appreciate what you have to say.”
One woman said that perhaps the city or some residents could set up a social media page to keep residents informed. Another resident asked what needs to be done to change the ordinance. Kleefisch did add that information could be sent out with water bills. One of the residents in the crowd mentioned that Worth sends out information with their water bills.
Mayor Gerald Bennett later said during the council meeting that he respects the body of legislation that resulted in the ordinance on restrictions regarding campers, RVs and boats.
“My comment at the time is that we worked on the ordinance 15 years ago,” Bennett said. “I respect the fact that this is a blue-collar community, but some people take this to an extreme. As a combination of things we did 15 years ago, I thought we settled the issue.”
Bennett mentioned that many people are upset since the ordinance officer began giving out citations. The mayor said that they could consider other ways to send out information about upcoming events. Many residents who attended the hearing said they were not aware of the ordinance.
“I’m not a big fan of social media because there is a lot of misinformation out there,” Bennett said. “But we can look into it.”
Lebarre said that the board probably could do a better job of communications when an issue comes up.
In other news, the mayor said that a recent public hearing about having a trail near Bennett Park will not happen.
“There was a lot of pushback on the issue,” Bennett said. “If people don’t want it, it’s not the end of the world. We have a lot of parks in the city.”
Ald. Mike Price (1 st), who is the head of the building and licensing committee, said that permits have been completed for the construction of a Thorntons gas station and convenience store at the corner of 111 th and Roberts Road.
The board will also present an ordinance for a 21/2 percent wage increase for the police and public works departments. The board will later discuss a three-year contract for both departments.
The mayor is optimistic that the new public works facility at Bennett Park will be completed by June 1.
Bennett also thanked the large crowd of people who came out to the hearing. Bennett added that this was the largest crowd he has seen attend a meeting.
“It was amazing,” said Brachman. “I’ve never seen so many people. I just want to thank all the people who came out.”