September 28, 2011 | 07:56 AMFONTANA — Business owners in the community view Village Hall as a place that makes it cumbersome to do something as simple as put up a sign. That's according to the results of an August 2011 business survey.
Recently, Building Inspector and Assistant Zoning Administrator Bridget McCarthy spoke to about 30 business owners in the community and conducted a survey on the business climate.
"The overwhelming impression business owners reported to me was that they did not feel the village supported their business; that the village could "care less" if they were operating or not," McCarthy wrote in the survey results. "A couple business owners were reluctant to complete the survey because they were afraid of negative backlash from people in office."
However, not all of McCarthy's comments were bleak, she did have s ray of hope to report in the survey. McCarthy said the store owners were excited to see the village taking a proactive approach to improve the business climate.
In the survey, 2011 Business Survey business owners wrote the approval process needs to be streamlined. The comments included "allow businesses to have permits without Plan and Board reviews if all codes are met," and another was "Do not micromanage other people's property/business."
During Monday night's Plan Commission meeting, Planner Mike Slavney discussed the rewrite of Chapters 17 and 18 in the village's code, which deals with conditional use permits, signage and other areas in which business owners would like the approval process expedited. Slavney suggested several areas where the village's staff, not the Plan Commission and board, could approve projects. Those areas include interior changes, temporary outdoor events and activities and temporary signs.
"It will minimize the amounts of time they have to come in front of this body for minimal changes," Slavney said.
Trustee George Spadoni immediately said those issues should be left to the village staff.
"(The staff members) are great employees. They have the knowledge," Spadoni said.
Village President Arvid "Pete" Petersen said the concerns raised in the survey won't be ignored.
"We need to make some changes and that's exactly what we are doing with the rewrite of 17 and 18," he said. "We have room for business, absolutely. We certainly have storefronts available that we would like to see occupied and there is nothing wrong with bringing some jobs to Fontana.
Slavney also talked about creating a resort district for the Abbey. This would allow the Abbey to host certain events without village approval.