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Barred Joliet business owner receives approval

Brock A. Stein | 4/4/2018, 5:02 p.m.
An automotive customization business made another appeal to the Joliet City Council this week to open in a new location ...
The Joliet City Council has denied a special use permit for a auto customization shop to operate at 2409 W. Jefferson citing noise complaints at its current location and the proximity to a proposed hospital TIF district. Photo by Brock A. Stein

An automotive customization business made another appeal to the Joliet City Council this week to open in a new location on W. Jefferson Street.

Albert Kopinski, owner of Crusader Customs, which provides custom rims and other customizations for vehicles, was denied a special use permit in January to operate at a new location at 2409 W. Jefferson Street just down the road from its current home at 1020 W. Jefferson.

Under city rules, Kopinski was barred from coming back to the city council for a year but could re-appeal as a new business due to his request for rezoning.

In both instances, the city’s planning and zoning board and city staff approved the special use and rezoning re quests.

This time, the city council approved a special use permit for Kopinski to operate at the new store front with some restrictions. City council members Jan Quillman and John Gerl voted against the approval.

On Monday, Gerl questioned the logic of storing customized vehicles that will be for sale at the new location in the back of the lot.

“It’s like putting doughnuts at the back of the bakery,” said Gerl.

In January, some council members cited the proximity of the new shop to a medical TIF district near St. Joseph Hospital and the business not fitting in with the planned re-development near the area.

Joliet resident Jane McGrath Schmig said that she felt that “a reasonable argument has been made” regarding the TIF and barring the business from operating so close to it citing the “thriving environment” near the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“Maybe Joliet could be something like that,” said McGrath Schmig who said that her “emotional response” to the proposed business stemmed from her love of Joliet.

She called the addition of another car customization business on Jefferson “a bit of a tipping point.”

“It makes me wonder do I want to stay in Joliet or not,” she told the council.

Mike Hansen, an attorney for owner Kopinski, said that the facility operates differently from new and used car dealerships that are looking to attract drive by traffic.

City planning director Kendall Jackson said that the operation will sell customization items and will install upgrades on vehicles but will be restricted from displaying any vehicles for sale in the front of the lot. Cars will be stored in a lot on the east side of the property behind a fence he said. Jackson said that the rezoning will allow for the sale auto accessories and that a special use will allow for the sale of the customized vehicles “which can only happen through a special use permit.”

The city first approved a special Tax Increment Funding district near the St. Joseph Hospital in January 2017. The funds generated from the TIF will be used to rehab the area around the hospital district including Glenwood Ave. on the north, Republic Ave. on the west, Hammes Ave. to the east and parts of Jefferson Street on the southern edge.

The TIF is expected to generate around $17.95 million to be reinvested in to the area over the 23-year lifespan of the district. Those funds could be directed toward improving public infrastructure as well as the surrounding streetscape, landscaping, and signage.