By Dee Longfellow
About 50 people came to Elmhurst City Hall on the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 4 to take part or listen in on the public hearing held at a meeting of the City’s Zoning and Planning Commission.
Chair Susan Rose set ground rules at the start of the meeting, noting that they planned to adjourn promptly at 10 p.m.
“As former Mayor Tom Marcucci always said, ‘nothing gets accomplished at a City meeting after 10 p.m.’ and I agree with him,” she said. “If someone is finishing up comments, we’ll do that, but we won’t go more than a few minutes past 10.”
The proposed development is planned at 196-200 N. York and 202 N. York, owned by RSCK Holding, an Illinois LLC, which is planning a 28-unit condominium building with ground floor retail and/or commercial space and two levels of parking on site. RSCK is the applicant seeking a conditional use permit for a preliminary planned unit development (PUD) with site development allowance, to provide a setback of 2.17 feet from the front property line.
The company is further requesting a conditional use permit for building height at the properties, where the developer hopes to build “greater than 77 feet but less than 125.” The applicant proposes the building to be 109 feet tall.
The meeting began with Scott Day, attorney for the developers, who explained the project using overhead slides and presented four different options. The owners are pushing for the first option, which residents seem to be the most resistant to.
Among the objections that Day attempted to address were those of the residents in the One95 condominium building, which had an entire coalition of concerned people who came to the meeting. They expressed the opinion that the proposed building should not be taller than the One95 and that there should be an extra dimension of setback off the rear alley similar to the additional setback provided at the One95.
Day discussed shadow studies, depicting the shadows that would be cast by the proposed building at various times of the day and multiple times of the year. He also noted the residents’ concern that the alley experiences high volumes of motor vehicle traffic at different times of the day and traffic safety has been a concern.
“We realize that traffic is a concern to people who need to get to their residence,” Day said. “We recognize there will be some inconvenience.”
The alley becomes major issue
There was an audible gasp in the room when Day then said, there were “no businesses that use the alley.”
Most of all, this raised the ire of Kasindra Dayton, the owner of Elmhurst Premier Childcare, which has its children’s outdoor play area in back of the building by the alley. It is also a pick-up and drop-off spot for parents to use.
“When he was asked if any surrounding businesses opposed the development, he firmly said ‘no,’” said Dayton, who later spoke with the Independent in an exclusive interview. “In fact, he went on to say that the surrounding businesses were in support of the development. That is false.”
What had Dayton seething was that this is the second meeting about the prospective development at which she has been ignored by Day.
“[Day] took my information at the last [neighborhood] meeting held at City Hall,” she said. “Never ever called me back, I left many messages and emails. Nothing. Crickets.
“Now he says, there are no businesses that use the alley? Is he kidding? I don’t think he realizes I’m the owner, he must think I’m only the operator and not worth his time.”
Dayton went on to say she was concerned about air quality issues because the alley can be a wind tunnel.
“I want to make sure my parents [of the children] are not inconvenienced and that an ambulance would have accessibility if, God forbid, we need it,” she said.
She went on to talk about water and increased flooding since The Fynn was built.
“As an area, we simply cannot take on any more water until the City and the engineers figure out what went wrong with the Fynn,” Dayton said. “We are flooding strictly due to the new building’s rainwater and cannot and will not take on any further water from another bad design. The City has failed me and if this infrastructure is not looked at, there simply cannot be another high rise.”
Pressed for details Dayton added the following:
“[The Fynn’s] downspouts are pointed directly and dead center at the middle of my playground, we just recently caught it. We have now flooded twice with significant damages and my building has never once had a flood. We have one stormwater drain that cannot handle natural water flow and now, Fynn’s water, let alone any more water may end up in our area. We are the lowest-lying building on the block. If water continues to be directed in the alley it is coming toward the lowest lying structure, which is us. If this new building butts up to the lot line, where is that water going to go?
“I feel until this is addressed, along with the other concerns, they need to pump the brakes.”
One95 residents speak up
Several people who live at the One95 building facing Addison St. had their own concerns about traffic safety in the alley that has “significant traffic” from:
• businesses on the block, including the day care facility
• number of residents; roughly 232 units with 1+ persons each
• deliveries for businesses and residents
• services such as trash pick-up, utilities, cable
• moving trucks
• drivers seeking an alternative path during busy periods on York St.
• pedestrians and bicyclists.
The group submitted a page of concerns to members of the ZPC. The concerns about the alley traffic continues. They claim the alley is:
• narrow for the diversity and volume of traffic that currently occurs;
• blind spots or vehicles coming out of building garages into the alley create risk of accidents;
• York St. is a major axis for the City’s emergency services;
• Stacks of snow impede the exit of the One95 garage into the alley, even without a building;
• Nearby Fynn building decreased potential height by putting parking underground.
The residents of One95 offered the following suggestions to the developers:
• Limit the new building height to that of Elmhurst City Hall directly across the street.
• Reduce the number of garage doors in the alley from two to one and position to mitigate accidents.
• Reduce the number of parking spaces to promote public transit use and reduce alley traffic.
• Set back all parts of the new development from alley-side property line.
• Build in a tiered, wedding-cake style, and notch the building’s corners to mitigate further wind tunneling and to allow for sunlight passage.
• Evaluate and mitigate any negative impact on emergency services.
• Do not permit construction equipment and vehicles to block residents from accessing their garages or block entry doors to businesses.
• Delay permits and approvals until a robust material staging and construction is done that minimizes the negative impact on nearby property owners.
True to her word, Rose asked for a meeting adjournment just minutes after 10 p.m., but not before the Commission voted for a continuance of the public hearing until the next ZPC meeting, which will be Tuesday, Oct. 18. The meeting is at 7 p.m., but because of another case before the Commission, Rose said the public hearing will recommence about 7:30.
At that time, Dayton is scheduled to speak as well as State Representative Deanne Mazzochi, who owns one of the buildings on Addison St. After their testimony, and anyone else who may still wish to address the Commission, Day and the team of developers will have the opportunity to respond.