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Council Overrides Planning Board to Allow Aveda to Open in Downtown Wheaton

After debate council moves to amend zoning code to permit hair salons in area off limits since 1998.

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 , 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 , 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.

Kristina Sargent, DC, MS-ACP November 09, 2011 at 04:17 PM
Abundance mentality please! It's called a free-market economy. The businesses who serve the customer base the best will prevail. If someone is running scared maybe it's because they aren't doing everything they can for their clients. It takes continued diligence to know and serve your clients well to build brand loyalty. It doesn't matter whether it's a salon, grocery store, chiropractor, plumber, retail shop, restaurant or any other business. If you have what people want, and treat them better than they expect to be treated, they will come....
A November 09, 2011 at 04:59 PM
How about a grocery store & pharmacy within walking distance downtown for seniors or those without transportation? Too many EXPENSIVE salons! Please ... no more!
Dick November 09, 2011 at 11:13 PM
Hair salons (and other service businesses - dentist, insurance companies..) don't generate sales tax revenue for the city.
Keith Reily November 10, 2011 at 03:27 PM
To the attention of A & Dick. 1) Grocery store and pharmacy, great idea, however until the company that wants to operate a grocery store and pharmacy comes calling on Downtown Wheaton we are unable to just fabricate one for you. Right now there are many vacant spaces and Aveda is an established and profitable company that wants to operate in our area - welcome. They will bring in customers that will notice the other businesses and hopefully stop and buy clothes, eat in restaurants, and decide to utilize one of the many services the other businesses offer. In time, perhaps other businesses will follow and I sincerely hope all of your needs are met. 2) Aveda is expected to be as much of a product store as a service store, therefore a lot more sales tax will be generated than the empty space is now bringing in to our community.
CAROLE November 10, 2011 at 10:40 PM
WHY?????????

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