A fast-food restaurant in Maywood. The village recently voted down a proposed moratorium that would have frozen the issuance of licenses for fast-food restaurants, among other businesses, for six months. | File
Wednesday, March 30, 2022 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
A proposed six-month moratorium on business licenses for barbershops, hair salons, nail shops, banquet halls/event spaces and fast-food restaurants in Maywood that had been floated by some village staffers and village board members was axed at a public hearing on March 22.
A motion to move the ordinance establishing the moratorium to a regular meeting later in the evening, where the board would make a binding vote on the measure, failed to pass due to the lack of a majority.
The vote was 3-3, with Trustees Isiah Brandon, Miguel Jones and Aaron Peppers voting no and Mayor Nathaniel George Booker, along with Trustees Melvin Lightford and Shabaun Reyes-Plummer voting yes. Trustee Antonio Sanchez, whose family owns a banquet hall in Maywood, abstained from voting.
The board voted on March 1 to move the proposal to the March 22 public hearing for more community discussion. The proposal had originated in the village’s Ordinance and Policy Committee, which is chaired by Trustees Sanchez and Reyes-Plummer.
The co-chairs have explained that village staffers in community development recommended the six-month moratorium in order to get a handle on the density of the aforementioned businesses in Maywood. The six months would allow staffers the time to evaluate and most likely change the village’s codes and ordinances in order to more effectively regulate those businesses.
Mayor Booker said that the village has had to shut down three banquet halls in the “last couple of months because of problematic issues,” adding that Maywood has the more banquet halls than any other suburb in Proviso Township.
He also addressed the high density of other kinds of businesses, such as barbershops, which he said are currently “on every second block of the Fifth Avenue” corridor.
“This is us trying to clean up old licenses, documents, paperwork, businesses that might not be licensed currently or might not be within certain parameters we’d like for them to be [within],” Booker said. “It’s about space. How many are there in a community?”
Sanchez said that village staffers “instructed us that there were inconsistencies” in the licensing process and in the village’s ordinances that need to be addressed.
Reyes-Plummer said that within the six months, village staffers would be able to conduct a study on the weaknesses in the code and ordinances, and create a range of recommendations.
Village attorney Michael Jurusik said that six months is the maximum amount of time that municipalities are allowed by law to maintain a moratorium, but he said there’s no reason why the moratorium can’t be ended in less time if the village’s study doesn’t take as long.
“If you get the study done in the next 60 or 90 days, you can get your regulations put together and the moratorium ends when that happens,” Jurusik said.
But dissenting board members questioned how the proposed moratorium might impact local businesses, with Brandon saying that he was concerned the measure “will provide an additional layer of [bureaucratic red tape]” for small businesses owners who are already under strain due to the pandemic. Peppers questioned the basis for the six months.
“I think Maywood needs to be open to business to everyone,” said Jones, adding that he agrees with “the clean up idea” and addressing flaws in the village’s ordinances, but believes there might be a better approach than a moratorium.
During public comments, a few area businesspeople expressed reservations about the proposed moratorium, including Daniel Hermosillo, who said he owns a reception hall in Maywood.
“I feel it’s a little too extreme,” Hermosillo said. “I feel we should observe before we act on it.”
Village manager introduces new community development director
At the end of the March 22 public meeting, Maywood Village Manager Chasity Wells-Armstrong chimed in on the moratorium issue before introducing the village’s new community development director.
“The issues with community development go back a number of years and we’re trying to put in some tools and strategies that will allow us to clean up some of the issues around businesses in the community,” she said.
“The intention is not to harm any business owners, but we need time to be able to grasp all of these issues around zoning, uses and other matters and we can only do that if we have tools in place such as ordinances and use tables.”
Wells-Armstrong then allowed Ruben Feliciano, the village’s new community development director, to address the board. Feliciano replaces Angela Smith, the former community development director, who was terminated last month, according to Booker.
“I’m very passionate about justice, about equity,” said Feliciano, who grew up in Humboldt Park and recently moved to Maywood. “I’m excited to be here, excited to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”