Several downtown Crystal Lake residents on Tuesday night pleaded with the city council to keep businesses from encroaching upon their neighborhood.
Local architects Brian and Andrea Korte appeared at the regularly scheduled Crystal Lake City Council meeting Oct. 15, seeking approval to locate their architecture business to the single-family house at 185 N. Main Street in Crystal Lake.
The small house sits at the corner of Main and Sherman streets. The city's Planning and Zoning Commission recently granted recommendation for the request by a 4-3 vote.
However, nearby residents voiced concern that if the city permitted one house to turn over to office use, the rest of the street would follow suit.
"The character of our neighborhood is older," said Jan Lawson, who lives at 217 N. Main St. "I don't want businesses next to me....we love our neighborhood the way it is."
Resident Gary Dewane, who lives at 222 Ellsworth St., voiced concern about businesses moving into the residential area.
"This has always been residential with children playing," Dewane said. "Once you allow one of these businesses in, it's going to spread."
The Kortes were seeking variation approval to use the residential structure as an office, and another variance to have three parking spaces instead of the required five.
The couple was looking to buy the home and said they intended to maintain the structure's residential appeal. They planned to build a small addition over the first-story kitchen, add two dormers and canopies over the front and side entrance doors.
"We want to keep the residential character of the home," Brian Korte said. "...We are looking to put a small addition on it. We live two blocks away. It's our community, too."
Mayor Aaron Shepley said the resident's fears were founded. Permitting an office use in a residential home would open the flood gates to future requests.
"Those are real fears," Shepley said. "Once you put that there, every other property is entitled to the same. It sets a legal precedent."
City council member Jeff Thorsen was concerned reducing the parking requirement at the proposed office site would set a precedent as well. Thorsen added there are plenty of alternative office locations throughout the city.
"I have a huge concern about parking variation setting another precedent," Thorsen said. "And we are not for want of office space. We have tons of it, and we don't need to create more."