Heated dispute could melt Ollie’s future

By D. Richard Roth

The dispute relating to the relocation of Ollie’s Frozen Custard appears to have reached critical mass.

“I will be happy with nothing less than getting rid of the whole operation,” said Sean Shesgreen, spokeperson for a group of DeKalb residents against the relocation of Ollies’s, 1208 Sycamore Road. Shesgreen does not want Ollie’s to relocate 30 feet back from his current location which is an option if Ollie’s owner William Jamison’s appeal is approved.

“There is no compromise to the issue of relocation on Sycamore Road, we must get rid of Ollie’s at that location,” Shesgreen said.

Ollie’s owner William Jamison said the dispute over the relocation of Ollie’s began last year when the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) claimed property located on Sycamore Road.

“IDOT claimed my property as well as the property of two houses north of Ollie’s as necessary to improve Sycamore Road,” he said.

The move by IDOT has left Jamison with only two options—to move Ollie’s thirty feet back from its present location or relocate to another location.

Jamison subsequently filed a petition with the DeKalb Plan Commission to have the property rezoned to neighborhood business status, and the petition was denied unanimously.

With the only remaining option left to relocate, which is not acceptable to Jamison, a petition was filed with the Dekalb Zoning Board of Appeals last Friday.

The plan commission’s chief reason for denying the rezoning was because they believed it would create “spot zoning” in the area, Jamison said.

Although the “spot zoning” justification offered a reason for denial of rezoning, it certainly was not the most emotionally charged.

“Teenagers come to Ollie’s and stay much longer than they should, loitering, drinking alcohol and doing things I could not mention,” Shesgreen said. “My bedroom is within clear view of the back of their lot.”

Shesgreen said a similar effort to rezone Ollie’s in 1979 was defeated succesfully by his efforts.

“We defeated them back in 1972 and won again last month with unanimous defeat at the plan commission meeting,” he said.

Jamison said he has owned and operated the business for more than eight years and enjoyed city-wide support.

“We have the support of the community, NIU students and surrounding communities,” he said. “This does nothing but puzzle me, really puzzle me.

“This effort to defeat Ollie’s is spearheaded by one guy who is afraid of the future. This does not open up the chance of another business being opened up in the future at my location. Their minds are pretty closed.”

Jamison is waiting for the DeKalb Zoning Board of Appeal’s decision on March 18 on whether to grant Jamison a continued variance permit which would allow him to move his business about thirty feet back from its present location.

“I do not know of any other place to go if we have to move from 1208 Sycamore Road,” Jamison said. “I am too young to quit work.”

Jamison’s opposition did not offer any sympathy.

“We have retained legal counsel to represent us at the next meeting,” Shesgreen said. “If they get their way the property values of the neighborhood will significantly drop.”

Regardless of the decision by the DeKalb Zoning Board of Appeals, Ollie’s will reopen for their eighth straight business year on Feb. 23.

“We are really looking forward to having a good year of business at Ollie’s,” he said.

IDOT construction is not slated to commence on Sycamore Road for about two years, Jamison said.