Grocery construction becomes Harwood Heights resident’s ‘nightmare’
Neighbors Rich Fladten and Andy Schmidt (right) of Harwood Heights stand by a stump where one of several trees was cut down Friday during the construction of the Mariano's Fresh Market on Oketo Avenue in Harwood Heights. Both expressed concerns about the
• Dec. 8, 2011 representatives from Milwaukee-based Roundy’s Supermarkets and developer Bradford Real Estates of Chicago present plans to build a 72,000-square-foot Mariano’s Fresh Market on a 7.5-acre piece of property on the southwest corner of Lawrence and Oketo avenues
• Dec. 12, 2011 the Harwood Heights Plan Commission votes to recommend the Village Board approve the plan, provided the developers address such issues as traffic, delivery times and landscaping
• Jan. 26 By a 4-3 vote, the Harwood Heights Village Board accepts the recommendation of the Plan Commission to allow Bradford Real Estate Cos. to move forward with plans to build a Mariano’s Fresh Markets on the southwest corner of Lawrence and Oketo avenues
• Mid-July site preparation begins
Updated: September 17, 2012 11:38AM
HARWOOD HEIGHTS — Better communication between Harwood Heights officials and a group of residents may go a long way to resolve issues surrounding the construction of a grocery store on the southwest corner of Lawrence and Oketo avenues.
“We feel like our concerns are being totally ignored,” said Richard Fladten, who lives across the street from the site of a new Mariano’s Fresh Market.
Site preparation is already underway, including the demolition of the former industrial building’s concrete foundation.
Among the neighbors’ complaints and concerns are the migration of rats from the site; potential damage to home foundations from vibrations produced by the breaking up of the foundation; dust control from the pulverizing process; and the removal of at least six healthy, mature trees on the property.
Looking to the future, resident Andy Schmidt also is concerned that traffic on Oketo would become a problem.
“It’s already a thoroughfare,” he said of the north-south street. “And then the village was talking about taking away our on-street parking.
“It’s frustrating,” Schmidt continued. “Our voices aren’t heard. We go to meetings, and we’re totally ignored.”
Fladten said his repeated requests for information from Village Hall about the rats leaving the site into the neighborhood have gone unanswered.
“I just happened to catch a building inspector one day to ask him about the problem,” Fladten said. “If there’s a problem, no one responds.
“And they say they want to be good neighbors,” he added.
Project manager Wayne Pesek responded to residents’ concerns by fax.
Addressing the rat migration problem, Pesek acknowledged that heavy construction activities would cause animals, including rodents, to relocate to areas where they have a source of food.
“Utilizing proper, closed refuse containers will cause rodents to travel to find food sources which are generally located in residential, multi-family and restaurant service areas that are not properly safeguarding their refuse,” he said. “The subject property where construction is occurring has been trapped and baited.”
As far as noise, dust and vibrations are concerned, Pesek said construction activities cause inconveniences and nuisances, and that the contractor is responsible to employ “methods and means” to reduce, minimize or eliminate such nuisances during construction.
Spraying water to control dust is one option. Using a green, fabric fence to surround the perimeter is another.
“The last six months for us have been a nightmare,” Fladten said.
He noted one Saturday when the winds kicked up, he felt like he was being sandblasted from dust coming from the site.
Resident Kathy Russo, who lives just east of the market property, chalked up the inconveniences to progress.
“You have to move forward,” she said.
Schmidt, however, said that isn’t the issue.
“I just wish the village would give us a heads up,” he said. “There’s no communication.”