Thursday, February 26, 2009

Call To Action: Wilson Yard Noise Violations

A reader writes in:
"If Uptown Update readers that live near the Wilson Yard construction site hear anything prior to 8AM, they should call the Department of the Environment at 312.744.7672 to file a complaint. DotE regulates noise ordinances that cover construction sites like Wilson Yard.

I called the Buildings Department to ask them about the permit for Walsh construction for the site. They told me that there are no exemptions that allow any contractor to perform construction before or after the hours of 8AM and 8PM. They did tell me that larger construction sites with heavy equipment do face state regulations through IDOT that force them to make deliveries prior to 8AM. However, these regulations DO NOT exempt Walsh from the noise ordinance before 8AM or after 8PM. They still must comply with the standards of their permit.

If you see any construction at Wilson Yard before 8AM or after 8PM it is a violation of their permit. To file a complaint call the Buildings Department at 312.744.3449."

Remember, folks, this is you and me paying for the construction at Wilson Yard. It's our money that's paying Walsh Construction. Ald. Shiller and Peter Holsten have no skin in the game... it's our money that's being spent while construction regulations are being ignored.


  1. Ald. Shiller ...have no skin in the game

    What are you talking about?

    If Wilson Yard isn't completed, and quick, Helen won't be able to inject more non-Uptowners into Uptown so that the people of Uptown can support them, too.

    Those non-Uptowners won't be able to enhance Helen's political base.

    She's definitely got skin in the game; however, that skin is coming off of our backs.

  2. Thanks for the info they were working at 5:10 am this morning. 5:10 am I could not believe it. I have also regularly seen them working on Saturdays in the morning which I think is also violation of their permit.

  3. What are their Saturday hours of operation supposed to be?

  4. I pass by on the red line every morning around 7:15am. They're always working. Seems like the plan to have the building completed before the FWY hearing in May!

  5. File complaints when you witness violations. The only statute of limitation is your willingness to put up with code violations.

    Don't wait. Call them early, call them often. The deceased at Graceland can hear the code violations.

  6. They are obviously breaking their neck to get as much as possible completed by May so they can convince a judge that a large portion of the project is complete and its too late to stop it. All the while, the revenue generating side - aka "faux Target" - sits idle.

  7. I called and left a complaint they called me back in about 10 min and said an inspector would be out tomorrow am. I plan to call them every day when I drive past there on my way to work. I had called 911 about 20 times but that did not seem to do much. I encourage everyone to stand up to the decision to not follow the laws of Chicago. The Alderman's office stated they were unaware of the problem when I contacted them in January. They have not responded to my emails since then.

  8. I would also urge anyone who lives around Wilson Yard to take (time stamped) video of any work going on outside the legal times.

  9. i live across the street and they start everyday around 5 am....beeping of heavy equipment backing up, crane operator on a loudspeaker, guys on the ground yelling, saws and other machines going, and a huge flood light kept on all day and all night....

    i have called 911 for two weeks straight and nothing ever happens..i watch out the window for a squad car like they said would come and never does....

    i will call this number each and every morning i get woken p by the noise..which is every morning (i even wear earplugs now and still really loud)..

    hopefully the complaints will be enough to have them start at a decent hour...

  10. Is there a way to get records of 911 calls? I know that you can for 311 calls and that the city is supposed to be analyzing response times for correcting 311 issues.

    Connected developers should not be allowed to flout Chicago ordinances. We should all be equal before the law.

  11. Interesting. This fall, a neighborhood school was having new windows installed at all hours in an attempt to finish the job before students started school. Neighbors called and complained and our Alder "person" intervened. She had all work halted until the permit was changed and followed. I love her selective enforcement of anything that benefits her.

  12. You can get 911 records via subpoena and possible via FOIA.

  13. I love it! Call early, call often!

    I also want to say, just because it comes up often, that if this development goes through and the apartments are quickly filled with low income residents, there is no manifesto that says they must support Shiller. She can take the "credit" for giving them a home and demonize her opponent for "hating" on them all she wants, but the bottom line is they are fair game for volunteers and candidates to persuade them to vote against her.

    I could easily qualify for one of these low-income or subsidized places, but I also want a transparent representative who listens and responds to me. Below market does not equate to blind sheep following indiscriminately.

    Just trying to stay optimistic in the wake of a worst-case (but possible) scenario!

  14. "What are their Saturday hours of operation supposed to be?"

    you shouldn't have to ask that - the permit should be posted on the site, visible from the sidewalk, and it should have the hours on it

    if it's not, call that in, too

  15. I walk by every weekday morning at 5:10 a.m. and there is working. I was under the impression that they can't be using the heavy equipment but they can be doing manual labor and prep work. The latter is what I hear from them EVERY morning at this time. Is my impression wrong and should I be calling when I hear activity? I don't call because I am very confused as to what I should be reporting. I have asked Molly for clarification and she has specified heavy equipment use. The yelling back and forth, delivery trucks moving around, and banging is what I'm hearing. Is this not permitted? Please clarify this for me as, according to other posters, I am a drooling moronic idiot.

  16. on a good note....the huge flood light was off last night for the first time in almost 4 was actually dark in my apartment last night....

    and no work being done this morning...

  17. it was actually dark in my apartment last night....

    and no work being done this morning...

    Gee, you think anyone was reading Uptown Update yesterday?

  18. WY has been eerily quiet all day today. Not that I mind it, but I wonder what's going on.

  19. In the interest of getting subpoenaed I would like to start a rumor regarding the lack of activity over at Wilson Yard today.

    I HEARD that Peter Holsten was abducted by space aliens. Also allegedly, Target has dropped out of the development because they sold their interest in the property to a developer who plans to build a WalMart/Hooters/Meth Clinic/Homeless Shelter/PinBall Arcade/Organic Farm/. Said developer has ties to a radical secessionist group based out of Northern Wisconsin that plans a sneak "cheese attack" on Uptown.

    Just saying...........that's what I heard.

    Can I get subpoenaed now?

  20. I live about 2 blocks from Wilson Yards.

    I can hear the Red Line and air traffic into O'Hare at all hours of the day and night.

    Does that mean I can call and complain about this too?

    Yes, TIF's and tats and dollars and cents have come out of our pockets. Welcome to life.

    In the current state of the economy, I would much rather have a development going up a break-neck speed with commercial tenants that have already signed on (and ones like Target that will surely lure followers) and mixed-housing available for those of us who cannot afford to donate to fully-catered fund-raising galas and ill-focused agendas.

    "Fix Wilson Yard" is a complete joke in my humble opinion.

    Yes, I may not be pleased with how my funds have found their way into various TIFs here and there, but at the same token, "Fix Wilson Yard" needs to look at this:
    Would you rather have an unfinished building project sitting like a failed eyesore on a prominent street corner, or would you rather see this project finish and provide this neighborhood with jobs, and a clean-up that will certainly follow?

    I would much rather see this project finished. A vacant rail yard lot is not attractive. A Target, other retail, and housing is much more attractive.

    I would love to support "Fix Wilson Yard" if they would fix themselves. WILSON YARD IS NOT THE PROBLEM HERE.

    The issue is the government (obviously) and how TIF is handled. Why not turn your focus on that? That would make a much better political and social statement.

    From a PR standpoint, "Fix Wilson Yard" is making a poor move by funding all of the lavish galas, cocktail hours, etc. They are sending the vibe that these events are for the elite and select few who are interested. There are a lot of people in this neighborhood that have no idea these people are trying to stop the project. All they see is opportunity, and it is opportunity that they want. They see a chance to have better housing, and to actually GET a job.

    I am sure that those individuals who attend all of the "Fix Wilson Yard" events are employed, and make a moderate income in order to line the pocket books of the organization.

    The vibe that I get from "Fix Wilson Yard" is one where the individuals involved do not want to pay a single dollar to improve the "blight at the side of the tracks" but will complain if nothing is done about it. I also get the vibe that rather than mixed-use housing and a Target, and other various commercial entries; they would much rather see a Nordstrom or Lord & Taylor, an Apple Store, a Starbucks on each corner of the development, Whole Foods replace Aldi, a Crate & Barrel, perhaps a Bloomingdale's Home Store, and luxury condominiums and loft homes starting at a minimum of $4.2 million per residence.

    With all of the time and money that "Fix Wilson Yard" has invested in news appearances, cocktail hours, marketing materials, etc., they could have taken their agenda higher and directly targeted the TIF mega-monster itself. Why focus on one project that more than likely cannot be stopped? Don't just think of yourselves here. You are on to something. Now share with everyone else!

    Also, if this is being done to better the neighborhood - I laugh at you. The funds you are throwing about could have indeed helped the neighborhood; had you invested it back into the community for donations to causes that support groups in need, volunteering at local organizations, or heaven forbid - helping out the Salvation Army or other such service. A community outreach and betterment fund would be appropriate. Or, somehow use it to find a way to oust Helen. It just seems like a joke when you say "We need money!" and the outcome is glitz and glam and happy hour events. If the people are interested, you don't need all of that. Just go "old school" with it.

    Find something else to focus on.

    Now... let's see how long it takes before this post gets deleted, or that someone accuses me of being some sort of insider for Holsten or Helen, or god knows what else. ;)

    Good evening to you all.

  21. Passive reflex,

    I doubt you will be deleted. Your opinion is obviously wrong, but not "troll-like" or offensive.

    Will Uptown suffer if the FWY lawsuit is successful? Perhaps in the short term. Looking at unfinished construction and a partially vacant lot isn't fun.

    In the long term Uptown and the City as a whole will be better off if the "TIF Monster" is slain.

    If not here in Uptown, where?

    If not now, when?

    If not Fix Wilson Yard, then who?

    It's like someone who pushes a kid out of the way of a speeding car and breaks his leg in the process. The outcome is worthy, but the process is painful.

    If FWY is successful the process ain't gonna be fun. Mayor Daley is not going to give up total control over TIF's without a bloody fight. Of course he might be preoccupied with some other stuff like federal investigations of his administration.

    Little in life is worthwhile if it comes easy.

    Sure it might be nice to be born rich like a Paris Hilton, but is the teeny weeny little IQ worth it?

    As to how FWY raises funds if you don't approve so what? You're entitled to an opinion.

    As for donating money and time to worthwhile local causes you might notice that the evil condo owners do a disproportionate share of that around here.

    As for what causes people donate to that is their business. I might prefer that money be given to a homeless shelter over an after school tutoring program or vice versa. I might like it if Warren Buffet gave his money to renovating the Uptown Theater.

    His money. His choice.

    Freedom is like that sometimes.

    It also means that sometimes one has to battle for transparency, good public policies and even freedom itself.

    In some sense that is what FWY is all about.

    Now to paraphrase "Animal House" I'm not going to sit here while you badmouth the United States of America and FWY."

    Goodbye Mr or Ms Reflex.

  22. i just got off the phoen with the Dept. of Environment..the numbet this forum told to call...i phoned a little after 7 AM Saturday morning(they had been working for about 45 mins at this point)....i was told by the guy that WY permit allows work to begin at any noise before that be sure to call and he said they do send someone out to check things out....he was pretty upset sounding that I told them they usually start around the 5am time frame during the week...he said that is not right and make sure to call whenever work begins before 7am....

  23. It's nice to see someone from Shiller's office commenting on here, PassiveReflex.

  24. I wonder why someone can get a permit that invalidates (violates?) a city ordinance meant to protect residents from undue noise at a time when they have the right to rest.

    Which special circumstances warrant such a permit?

  25. "Lavish galas...? I don't recall attending any FWY fundraisers at The Drake.

    The issue is the government (obviously) and how TIF is handled. Why not turn your focus on that? That would make a much better political and social statement.

    If you want to fight TIF's, then FWY is exactly what you should support. It would rock the way TIF's are used. In fact, I think FWY should call out the questionable TIF practices even more in their mission statement.

    Your other means of action include not voting for Daley, Shiller, or any other crooks in City Hall or the City Council. FCG (Fix Chicago Gov't)

  26. I used to work commercial construction and did so for 10 years. Almost all big construction sites have a 7am start. The city usually has no problem issuing extended hour permits. When I worked 900 N. Michigan we worked 6am to 6pm for a whole year.

  27. IrishPirate: Thank you for telling me that my opinion is wrong. As we all know, opinions are a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty - which is what I feel about Ald. Shiller, and the TIF program, and the mission of FWY.

    So, once again, thank you for telling me that my opinion is wrong; but to throw it back at you, I believe your opinion on my opinion being wrong is also incorrect. Wait - does that make me a fascist?

  28. Confused:

    If you want to fight TIF's, then FWY is exactly what you should support. It would rock the way TIF's are used. In fact, I think FWY should call out the questionable TIF practices even more in their mission statement.

    IF (and only if) FWY did call out the questionable TIF practices even more in their mission statement, I would, perhaps, consider lending my support.

    As it stands right now, and this is just my opinion (not trying to be a bully here), I still feel like the "mixed" end of the bag is being targeted, and that there is an underlying tone of "we don't want THOSE types of housing facilities here for THOSE types of people." Where else are we going to put these facilities?

    Everyone deserves an equal shot at getting back on their feet. If they abuse this, the system (should) shake them out of it, etc.

    Now, where the money for this comes from... well... you and I both know that practice is backwards.

    Chicago - and the state - have a long history of somehow managing to take a hit, and then cover it up. My only concern is that if the focus is just Wilson Yard and not the TIF program as a whole (which needs a major shakedown), then once again, the City will find some backwards back-alley way to manipulate the outcome, do a song and dance number a distraction, and then while no one is looking, figure out another conniving way to convolute the whole process once again and the TIF program will still be as twisted as ever.

    With 129 (+/-) TIF districts in the City, covering nearly 30% of the land area, and nearly $400 million (+/-) in TIF funds, the program touches all parts of the City - not just Uptown - though, there are quite a few in this area.

    If the Wilson Yards TIF comes to a full collapse, it will take down improvements to Arai/Uplift school, and Truman College along with it, or anything else in this 144 acre zone bound by Clarendon, Leland, Malden, and Montrose.

    Out of curiosity, there are many alternatives to TIF. Is there any program in particular that anyone out there would rather have seen implemented under a Special Planning District, etc?

  29. Wilson Yard is the poster child of how TIFs are abused and manipulated by politicians to suit their personal agendas and not the good of the community.

    This video shows Shiller talking about what residents wanted in Wilson Yard during an aldermanic debate.

    And what is Wilson Yard today? The largest funded public works project in Chicago TIF history.

    Did Uptown need a TIF to develop Wilson Yard? What would have happened to this prime piece of commercial real estate had it been put up for sale in 2000?

    And what would happen if the Wilson Yard TIF is dissolved? All the money that is being siphoned off from the schools and our run- down Clarendon Park would go back to City's operating funds. There would also be a ton of money that could be used to restore the Wilson El station dilapidated shops.

    Finally, has Uptown really suffered a huge loss in subsidized housing that warrents building more?

    For those of us who live here, we all know Uptown's major housing stock is government subsidized housing. Many of my neighbors quietly suffer with drug dealers,
    gangs and all the problems they bring. They won't let their kids walk to school because of the crime.

    We have much to learn about really helping a community heal itself and stop pretending a glut of low income high rises serves the good of anyone.

  30. Passive,

    You are welcome.

    As for Fascism I will let our Catholic Worker/Couraj/CopWatch friends define that.

    As a running dog lackey of the capitalist conspiracy I am not qualified to "define" you.

    Just remember all animals and all opinions are not created equal. Some are more equal than others. Sorry, for the Orwellian allusion.

    As for the reasons different folks support FWY I'm sure there are many different factors.

    Even without the housing component the current plan for Wilson Yard is deeply flawed. The process was even more flawed.

    Oh well.

  31. AP: Thanks for posting your information. When I contacted the city for details I contacted the Buildings Department for the operating hours of the Walsh Construction permit. They informed me it was 8a-8p.

    The Department of Environment, the agency responsible for enforcing noise ordinances, has told you 7a. I think that 7a is probably right.

    However, considering there is no proper display of the permit for the construction at Wilson Yard I would assume that the permit is only valid for 8a-8p. Until the legal permits listing all proper compliance with zoning regulations is presented at the construction site I would encourage all concerned citizens to file complaints for any violations before 8am.

    Construction at Wilson Yard has no legal grounds for skirting zoning regulations for proper display of ALL permits.