Wheaton City Council Monday amended a zoning ordinance that will allow an Aveda salon to open in the core retail district of downtown Wheaton.
The Council's decision overturned an earlier vote by the city Zoning and Planning Board, upholding the 1998 zoning code that prohibits hair stylists as a permitted use in the C-2 zoning district in downtown Wheaton. The district lies east of Wheaton Avenue, between Wesley and Front streets, and ends west of Cross Street, with a pocket near Hale Street that crosses the train tracks and Liberty Drive (see map).
Roy and Karen Millonzi of Glen Ellyn, who will open the Aveda salon, appeared before the planning board in September and October to request the text amendment. The zoning board in October denied their request, preferring to maintain the city code, which was implemented in 1998 to spur diversity of business downtown.
The zoning board voted against the text amendment with Suzanne Fitch as the only board member in support of the Millonzis' request. Fitch wrote her reasons for supporting the permitted use option in a memo that she distributed to council members before Monday's meeting.
"If we allow the free market to take its course and refrain from adding unnecessary impediments to new investment in our downtown, we can achieve a mix driven by consumer demand," Fitch wrote.
Councilwoman Jeanne Ives said she sees no reason why council needs to be the determination of what the marketplace wants for downtown Wheaton, "that's not going to happen if we go to a special use on this," she said.
Councilman John Rutledge agreed, "I think the marketplace will control how diverse our offerings are to the community," he said.
The Millonzis, who own Namasté in downtown Glen Ellyn, took their request to the council with hopes of overriding the zoning board recommendations. While each member of council said they were in favor of Aveda opening a salon in downtown Wheaton, they differed on the mode of approval. Councilwoman Jeanne Ives moved to amend the zoning code to allow salons in that area as a permitted use, but her motion was defeated. Councilman Todd Scalzo pushed for a special use permit to allow Aveda to open shop, but keep other new salons from opening in the C-2 district.
"I think we need to go back to the intent of the ordinance in 1998, which was to bring a diversity of uses into downtown Wheaton," he said.
Council was poised to approve a special use permit, which would allow Aveda to apply for a special dispensation to open a salon in downtown. However, the Millonzis spoke up when City Manager Don Rose said that route would mean Aveda would have to return to the planning and zoning board.
They said that would not work.
“There’s a time factor to move forward and get our business plan done,” Roy Millonzi said, adding that Aveda may not wait and opt to move the business to another community.
"I understand the dilemma of this decision-making process," he said. "We have to move on and get this business plan moving. Aveda came to us. They've identified this region specifically ... I can't ensure that the powers that be ... that they're going to wait."
Randy Jostes, a Wheaton resident and architect for the Millonzis, asked council what it would take to move the project forward.
“If we get a special use it’s going to take us back to starting all over,” Jostes said. “As a client and a resident of Wheaton I find this very frustrating.”
As council debated, Ives said allowing Aveda to set up shop through a special use permit would open the city up to potential lawsuits from other salons that may seek a similar reprieve.
She said the city should not determine what the business market will and will not support in downtown Wheaton.
But before council was able to render a decision, Michael Segretto, a representative of Zazu Salon & Day Spa, a competitor of Aveda, argued council should not grant Aveda the special use permit. Calling it unethical, the Segretto told council he was concerned council might sell property to an entity the members of the zoning board turned down for a permit.
Gresk said he did not want to see downtown Wheaton lose the opportunity to have an Aveda salon and called for a “plan B,” to reconsider Ives’ original motion. A unanimous vote passed the motion to amend the text that prohibits new hair stylists as a permitted use.
Millonzi said the next step in their business plan will be to identify and acquire the property they've identified and apply for the appropriate permits. If all goes smoothly, he expects the new salon to open within four to six months. However, he would not disclose which properties he was looking at for the salon.