Daley pushing Elston/Damen traffic fix

Mayor Richard M. Daley today announced a plan to reconfigure the notoriously congested Fullerton, Damen and Elston intersection while expanding the nearby Vienna Beef plant.

The plan, aimed at spurring redevelopment in the North Branch Industrial Corridor, calls for the city to acquire a 5.2 acre parcel near the  intersection. The city would use part of the land to alter traffic flow at the six-way intersection. The remainder would house an expansion of the Vienna plant.

The site, at 1880 W. Fullerton Ave., is in the North Branch TIF District.  Current tenants include My Gym Children's Fitness Center, Card and Party Giant, and Whirley Ball.

Department of Planning and Development spokesman Pete Scales said the city could eventually use eminent domain to take control of the land, though it will first negotiate with the property owner.

"We're at the very beginning of this process, so it's hard to say what the city will ultimately decide with regard to this site," said Scales.

Daley introduced the plan at today's City Council meeting, and will require approval from alderman to take over the property.

"Obtaining acquisition authority allows us to open a conversation with property owners and begin the appraisal process," said Scales.

The Chicago Department of Transportation estimates that it will begin intersection improvements in 2009.

In other City Council business, aldermen:

Demonstrators at City Hall. Photo by Jennifer Slosar
* Sent a measure authorizing a city takeover of several Lincoln Square properties back to the Housing and Real Estate Committee. The bill's sponsor, 47th Ward Alderman Gene Schulter, is seeking to downsize the plan. Dozens of residents marched on his office last week, and many were on hand this morning before the council meeting to protest the Lincoln Square redevelopment effort.

* Referred an ordinance that would ban keeping of chickens in the city's residential areas back to the council's Heath Committee. The council was expected to vote on the legislation today, but Ald. Ed Smith (D-28th) said the issue merited further consideration.

"I want to give people an opportunity to talk more about it," said Smith. "It's important that everybody who wants to make their opinions known be heard. If it's decided that any changes do need to be made to the ordinance, then I'm open to it."

Proponents of the ban had suggested that chicken feed and droppings might be contributing to the city's rodent problem. Advocates of urban chicken ownership touted the environmental and health benefits of home-produced eggs and argued that the city's rat population is a much wider sanitation issue.


SQUAK, 12-13-2007

Mmm, chickens!