Oak Lawn’s Board of Trustees will be voting on a variation which has the potential to cause a dangerous sight obstruction at an intersection along a busy stretch of Central Avenue. The variation could allow a politically connected realtor to place a fence that would block a driver’s view.
The intersection of 96th Street & Central Avenue could potentially become a much more dangerous location if a variation is approved tonight at the Board of Trustees meeting. For years, the southeast corner of that intersection had been an open yard lot. In 2014, a developer linked closely to political appointee Joseph Cwiklinski, a realtor in Oak Lawn, built a house on that lot after being denied a similar variation.
The Illinois Department of Transportation provides guidelines for the safe sight lines at intersections. IDOT’s guidelines stipulate that a driver should be able to see 335 feet down the main road to their left from a vantage point 15 feet back from the main road. Prior to that house being built in 2014, drivers approaching Central westbound on 96th Street could see that 335 feet up to 80 feet back from Central Avenue.
Once the house was built on the corner lot, a driver’s clear sight line was reduced from 80 feet back from the corner to approximately 30 feet. That meant that a driver could see the full 335 feet down Central from at least 30 feet back; much reduced, but still well within the guidelines.
The Oak Lawn Leaf reached out to several engineering firms that perform traffic studies. None were willing to go on the record about this intersection without having performed a study involving taking an accurate survey, including the placement of houses, streets, trees, poles, fences, and any other possible sight obstructions. One engineer did state that the plat of survey with a hand-drawn line for the fence wasn’t good enough to accurately judge how a fence at that location would obstruct the view of drivers. That hand-drawn plat of survey was the only rendering given to the Planning & Development Commission prior to their vote.
Trustee Robert Streit (District 3) did address the P&D Commission and speak against the fence, located just a couple hundred feet from his own house. There’s no word from the other Trustees how they’re leaning on this variation.
A similar situation arose in 2014 on a development at 95th & Mansfield, in District 3. The plan was pushed through the Village Board Meeting under objection from Trustee Carol Quinlan (District 5), because Trustee Robert Streit was not present, due to family illness. The site is located in District 3, which Streit represents. The Board voted 4-1 in favor of a variance ordinance in a District whose representative was not present. That building now presents a dangerous sight obstruction, as the Leaf wrote about in 2014.
“With an intersection like that, inches matter” the engineer stated. “If it’s a little bit west, a little bit north, now you’ve cut a hundred feet or more off the clear sight line. Throw in a tree and a utility pole, and you’re looking at an intersection that could cost someone their life.”