By Dee Longfellow

For The Elmhurst Independent

 

A group of residents in Elmhurst’s Pick Subdivision has come together to protest a development project being considered at the northwest corner of Illinois Route 83 and St. Charles Road.

The Pick Subdivision includes the area west of Route 83 to Villa Avenue in Villa Park. The site under consideration was most recently occupied by Back Alley Burger and Krave Restaurant; prior to that, the location had a Kentucky Fried Chicken and an independent restaurant called the Kopper Kettle.

Preliminary site plans were presented to the City’s Zoning & Planning Commission (ZPC) by Ambrose Design Group in Crystal Lake for the site known as 601-609 St. Charles Road. The Ambrose plan calls for a 16-pump service station, convenience shopping center and a carry-out restaurant, with plans for another drive-thru restaurant sometime in the future.

The Zoning Commission unanimously rejected the plans by a vote of 7-0 (two Commissioners were absent).

“That project is just too intense for that site,” ZPC Chair Susan Rose told the Independent in an exclusive interview. “One of the big things we have to look at when considering variances is ingress and egress, and at that site, it’s almost impossible. We asked the developer how anyone could ever make a left hand turn out of the lot [onto St. Charles Road] and he said there could be a ‘courtesy’ lane. That’s just not going to work.”

Rose also pointed out that the development called for 16 gasoline pumps, which will have to be refilled every day.

“How are those gasoline trucks going to get in and out of that location?” she said. “To turn left onto St. Charles Road means crossing the westbound lanes of traffic, where cars are turning right (west) from Route 83, then you have to cross the left turn lane on eastbound St. Charles, where the traffic lines up virtually all day long to turn onto 83. How are big semi-trucks supposed to maneuver that? And where are they to go from there?”

The developer’s answer to that was that they have “experienced drivers” and “don’t worry, they’ll find their way,” Rose said.

Starbucks supposedly had an interest in leasing a part of the property, but according to Rose, by the time the public hearing was held, Starbucks had pulled out of the deal.

“Maybe another type of business would work there, but not a convenience store with 16 gasoline pumps,” Rose said. “It’s just too much of a traffic generator in an area that is already saturated with a lot of traffic and inconvenient ingress and egress.

“We rejected the project at that point; we didn’t even get to the environmental impact studies.”

Neighbors are being urged to attend meetings of the Development, Planning & Zoning (DPZ) Committee and the City Council to underscore the concerns that the project will negatively impact neighborhoods and parks, the local water main, storm drainage, Salt Creek, Salt Creek Trail, the Forest Preserve and what they refer to as “an unsafe, ‘F’ rated, dangerous intersection.”

“Let them know that this development will be detrimental, endanger public safety,

increase congestion on public streets, and does not stand behind their values,” said Jennifer Veremis, who spearheaded the grassroots movement among the neighbors in the Pick Subdivision and who helped set up a web site about the project at: keepvibrant.org.

 

 

 

 

 

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