Peoples Gas wants $8,000 to move meter blocking a Lake View man’s front door

“It’s just a crazy idea to put a gas line in front of my house,” Vincent Anzalone says. The utility says it got permission to install the meter there. Not so, Anzalone says.

SHARE Peoples Gas wants $8,000 to move meter blocking a Lake View man’s front door
Vince Anzalone, who says Peoples Gas installed a gas regulator in front of the door to his soon-to-be home in Lake View.

Vince Anzalone says Peoples Gas installed a gas regulator in front of the door to his soon-to-be home in Lake View.

Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times

If Vincent Anzalone painted the metal thing in front of his house in bright colors, it might look like a piece of modern art.

But he’d still have to step around or over it to get through his front door. If he wasn’t paying attention, he easily might trip over it.

There are gas regulators all along Anzalone’s block of West Barry Avenue in Lake View but none quite like his. Most are in the shadows of a gangway or tucked off to one side at the front. Anzalone’s is right in front of a door to his new house.

“I can tell you with 100% certainty that I would not approve that,” said Anzalone, 50, a Chicago real estate agent. “It’s just a crazy idea to put a gas line in front of my house.”

The regulator belongs to Peoples Gas. It will move it somewhere else but says it’s going to cost Anzalone about $8,000.

“I just don’t think I should have to pay $8,000 for something I never agreed to,” Anzalone said.

Anzalone bought the property in October 2020. His wife plans to open a fitness studio on the first floor, and the couple plans to live above the studio.

Peoples Gas installed the regulator — it ensures the gas is under the correct pressure before it enters a building — a few months later. At the time, there was only wood over the space, not the door — or even a doorway — that’s there now.

That, according to the gas company, is the crux of the issue.

“As the photo we are providing shows, the door was not in that location when our equipment was installed in March of 2021,” according to a written statement from Peoples Gas. “The building renovation later added the door behind the equipment. When renovating, building owners and their contractors need to account for the location of utility equipment. If utility equipment needs to be moved due to a property owner’s construction, Illinois law requires the owner be responsible for the costs. We are working with the property owner.”

Why is Anzalone complaining about the regulator only now, two years after it was installed?

“Frankly, I didn’t say anything right away because my contractor said he would manage it,” he said. And he hadn’t gotten the bill then.

The utility sent the Chicago Sun-Times a copy of a document that appears to show Anzalone or one of his representatives approved the regulator’s placement. In the space for a signature, it reads: “Not avail., verbal OK.”

But Anzalone said no one ever called him to discuss the location, and neither he nor anyone else ever approved it.

A spokesman for the Citizens Utility Board, an Illinois consumer affairs watchdog, took a look at the Peoples Gas paperwork for the Sun-Times.

“It doesn’t seem like Peoples Gas communicated clearly with the customer,” CUB spokesman Jim Chilsen said. “In a situation like this, it’s the gas utility’s responsibility to be crystal clear in its communication — especially when Peoples Gas is installing an expensive piece of equipment that could be so disruptive to the property.”

Chilsen says Peoples Gas should “do the right thing” and move the regulator without any charge.

That’s what Anzalone wants, too.

“My plan is to hopefully change their mind,” he said.

Meantime, major work inside is on hold. Anzalone said he can’t put in hardwood floors until he has heat in the house — a sudden change in temperature could cause warping during installation. And he doesn’t want to connect the gas to a regulator that has to be moved.

“There’s no good aesthetic look having a huge gas line directly in front of your house,” he said.

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