A variance request passed by a 6-1 vote Thursday night allows for a 10-foot tall garage door to remain standing in Hickory Hills, although the city ordinance only permits garages with a maximum of eight-foot garage doors.
Yanena Staszec, 9225 85th Court, attended the Sept. 26th City Council Meeting where she pleaded with Mayor Mike Howley and city officials to allow her newly remodeled garage to be left alone.
“We are doing extensive remodeling on our home and we now have a 10-foot garage door, in addition to a two-car garage,” Staszec said at that meeting. “The work has already been done to the garage. We were not aware of the ordinance before the remodeling. If we have to change it, it will be difficult, because the work has already been done.”
Staszec added the heightened garage door is to accompany her husband’s work vehicle, a van measuring nine feet in height. “We feel it is better to park the van in the garage rather than out on the street or in our driveway,” she said. She added neighbors might complain more about a commercial vehicle parked out on the public street or in her driveway rather than in her garage.
Building Commissioner, John Moirano, agreed with Staszec, saying: “It is better having the van in the garage rather than parked outside. You see so many of these work vans nowadays, and they are often too tall to fit in standard size garages. My only suggestion would be to eventually change the city ordinance to allow nine foot doors instead of eight, instead of just making one exception.”
Alderman John Szeszycki felt changing the ordinance to permit nine-foot garage doors with a 900-foot interior would be necessary in order to prevent future exemptions for variance requests in similar cases as Staszec’s.
“If you just change it for one person, people are going to point out the fact that it was allowed for that one person and expect the same result,” he said.
Although Howley stated the city ordinance does not allow garage doors to stand at that height, no vote could be made at the September meeting. Alderman Deborah Ferrero noted she has polled Staszec’s surrounding neighbors and has not had one complaint about the heightened garage doors. Staszec commented she has also asked surrounding neighbors whether or not the size of the garage was an issue and said she has not received any negative feedback.
Staszec’s neighbor, Dan Reilly, addressed the city council Thursday night, in support of the garage staying as-is.
“I live directly north of her home and I am here to be the self-appointed spokesperson for all of our neighbors,” Reilly said. “The owners of the home are doing nothing but acting in good faith and they have made several renovations to improve the overall value of their home, which will improve the property value of the surrounding homes in the area.”
Reilly added he has also spoke with other neighbors who agree with his viewpoints and no one living on the same block as Staszek has any complaint with the heightened garage door. “Before their renovation, the garage was in very poor condition, if anything bringing down the value of the neighborhood, but now that renovation is complete the garage, even exceeding its regulated size, looks great,” he added.
Ferrero made a motion to permit Staszec’s garage door to remain as-is at 10 feet but not to exceed 10 feet. “If there are no complaints from surrounding neighbors with the size of the garage door, we should let it stay,” she said.
Szeszycki stood his ground, stating the ordinance should be changed to permit nine-foot garage doors, and Staszec should have to alter her existing door to match the city ordinance. He was overruled in the 6-1 vote among the council.