Taco Bell pitched for Roosevelt and Austin

After getting turned down on Madison Street, fast-food outfit changes plan

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By STACEY SHERIDAN

Staff Reporter

Taco Bell fans in Oak Park will rejoice in hearing that the Zoning Board of Appeals has received an application to build a freestanding franchise Taco Bell, complete with drive-thru, at 6000-20 Roosevelt Road. U.S. Bank formerly occupied the 32,724-square-foot property.

Don't plan a fiesta quite yet. Zoning law requires a special use permit to build the drive-thru, and the last time Taco Bell came to Oak Park pitching a location on Madison Street, it didn't go well for the fast-food chain.

"The main issue is that they're installing a drive-thru," said Oak Park Zoning Administrator Michael Bruce. 

But that's not all the developer is asking for. They also seek a pair of zoning variations, which are not inconsiderable.

The applicant, Ampler Development, a multi-brand franchise restaurant group, is asking for a reduction in street frontage coverage. Zoning law requires 60 percent of street frontage along Roosevelt Road to be occupied by the building. Bruce estimated the property's Roosevelt Road frontage to be about 261 linear feet, or 11 percent. 

"That's a lot of frontage to require. It's a very big lot," Bruce said. "Most of our lots are not going to be that wide." 

Ampler Development's second request is a reduction in required building transparency, meaning the number of windows, along the Humphrey Avenue frontage. The zoning ordinance dictates 20 percent building transparency, but the application asks for 2 percent.

"Roosevelt Road is all about being pedestrian-friendly and big windows are very pedestrian-friendly," said Bruce. "I'm going to push back on that and see if they can make that a little more transparent through there, but these are very early. They may modify the site plans."

According to the application's statement of intent, if built, the Taco Bell would operate seven days a week, opening as early as 7 a.m. and closing the dining room at 11 p.m. The drive-thru would open at 7 a.m. and close at 3 a.m. on weekdays, and at 4 a.m. on weekends.

In 2017, Taco Bell withdrew an application to build a location at the intersection of Madison Street and Lyman Avenue, following a unanimous rejection from the zoning board.

The Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a public hearing on the application for the special use permit and variations for the Roosevelt Road Taco Bell at 7 p.m., on Jan. 8, at the Oak Park Village Hall. 123 Madison St. 

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