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CL bar solves parking hurdle

CRYSTAL LAKE – The Planning and Zoning Commission said a lack of parking along Route 14 should not stop the development of an upscale bar.

Adam Harjung wants to open a wine and cheese bar in the storefront of the Jaster Building at 414 W. Virginia St. He also plans to take over Chez Pierre’s Creperie, which would be renamed Sweet Melissa’s. He got approval, by 8-1, for a special-use permit for the bar. Commissioner David Goss rejected the permit.

Harjung initially had asked the commission to reduce the number of required parking spaces from eight to zero. However, he worked out a deal with nearby businesses to lease parking. Harjung secured nine spots in the Vogue Cleaners lot after the dry cleaning business closes at 5 p.m., and an additional five spots from a nearby medical supply company.

Neighbors near the Jaster Building had objected to the development because of a lack of available parking in the area. Even with the leases, neighbors still worry about overcrowding.

John Valus, who owns an apartment building at nearby 234 Pomeroy Ave., said the Buena Vista Mexican restaurant often uses the Vogue lot.

“If Buena Vista loses their parking spaces and they have to park on the street, now we’re just changing cars,” he said. “We’re trading one set of cars for another.”

The building, at the corner of Pomeroy Avenue and Virginia Street, is in the center of a high-volume area with already limited parking. The city lost some parking spaces last year after a multimillion-dollar improvement program was completed and put in new sidewalks and crosswalks.

Though a solution was found for Harjung’s parking problem, Harjung said it merely kicks the can farther down the road.

“I have to pay for those spots, and in my mind I don’t think that’s right, but I’ll do whatever it takes to make the city and neighbors happy,” he said. “... But there’s always going to be parking issues until city fixes it.”

City officials have said tax increment financing dollars could be used to add parking at a later date.

The special use permit will be heard Dec. 18 by the City Council, which will have the final vote.

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