Plan Commission Minutes
In attendance: Chairman Mike Brackett, Co-Chairman Jennifer Duncan, Commissioners Mark Rivecco, Anna Tuohy, Mark Carroll, Aaron Anderson, Tom Lenkart (arrived at 7:10 pm). Not in attendance: Commissioner Connie Holbrook.
Staff in attendance: Community and Economic Development Director Mike Toth, Village Clerk Lori Murray, Jim Bibby (Rempe-Sharpe) and Village Attorney Kevin Drendel.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
1. Approval of Plan Commission Minutes dated February 5, 2013
Motion for approval made by Commissioner Duncan and seconded by Commissioner Rivecco. All in favor. Motion approved.
1. The petitioner, McVickers Development, LLC requests that the Village grant a Planned Unit Development Amendment to allow I-1 Limited Industrial District zoning on Lots 1, 3, 4 & 18 North Aurora Towne Centre.
Community and Economic Development Director Mike Toth confirmed publication and mailings for the public hearing. Mitch Carrel of Freeborn & Peters addressed the Board on behalf of the applicant. Bob Brownson and Bruce Danly of Oxford Real Estate Equities were also present. Carrel submitted the affidavit of service posting and publication.
Bob Brownson addressed the Plan Commission and noted that the original plan for the 120 useable acres was to build as much as possible as a shopping center. Brownson said that due to the recession and the fact that companies like Amazon were hurting mid-sized retailers, they looked at alternative uses that could work for the property.
(Lenkart Arrived at 7:10 pm)
Brownson said that what is currently active is the industrial market. They approached Inland who owns the phase 2 parcel and asked about putting the property under contract, which has happened and they have started on preliminary marketing with an industrial representative. Brownson said that the PUD provides for a wide variety of uses, but does not provide specifically for light industrial or distribution centers. In the Village’s 2006 Comprehensive Plan it was a plausible use for the site. Brownson added that the site will be very attractive to light industrial and distribution centers because of access to I-88 to Orchard. It is also developed with the necessary infrastructure. Utilities are adequate along with roadwork. The detention is also in place to service the site. The site can accommodate a million square-foot facility. It is one of only 3 sites in the whole I-88 corridor that could accommodate a 500,000 s.f. user. Brownson said they are hopeful to bring in a user to put up a spec building as early as this summer. If approved, this property will provide a great tax base in terms of tax dollars coming into the Village. It will also provide a lot of jobs for the community.
Toth said that the Village would be adding an additional use to the property. Underlying zoning allows for Commercial B1/B2 permitted special uses and residential on the former Lot 20 which is now Lots 3 & 4. Conceptual site plan is conceptual in nature and Staff is working on finalizing the Site Plan based on engineering and all other aspects involved in the current annexation agreement and planned development.
Toth noted that the 2006 Comprehensive Plan calls for a light industrial portion. In regard to the land uses, the petitioner removed bus storage but asked that outdoor truck and trailer storage be considered a use for the property. The site plan slates it for a freight-type use. The petitioner has asked for certain standards and screening. Toth noted that in reference to landscaping, the site itself is rather large and there would be a lot of impervious surfaces. Staff would relax the internal landscaping requirements to compensate for perimeter screening. Staff has informed the petitioner that the property is to be screened to the west and along Orchard/Gateway and Randall Road. The petitioner would increase landscaping by planting 1 parkway tree for every 35 instead of every 40 feet.
Toth said that the uses are consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and the petitioner has outlined the special use standards. Staff recommended approval based on those standards and based on doing a cursory look at the underlying land uses. Toth noted that there are contiguous land uses to the east.
Toth clarified that on Page 6 of the Staff Report under the zoning ordinance heading, the last sentence reads, “staff has reviewed the response to standards and recommends the Plan Commission except these findings….” Toth noted that there was a typo and “except” should read “accept”.
AUDIENCE COMMENTS - None
Chairman Brackett closed the public portion of the hearing.
Commissioner Rivecco suggested self storage facilities be a special use. Rivecco asked why the petitioner was asking for a 50-foot building height since the PUD allows for 45 feet and the I-1 district allows for 35 feet. Bruce Danly said they are not sure what the height of the building will be at this time but the new efficiencies of internal stacking for the type of industrial this may be typically has a 30 or 32-foot clear. The new modern building is going up to about 35 foot clear. Including joists and the normal slope to allow for rain water to drain and rooftop units to be screened, was not sure if a 45-foot height would work and therefore asked for 50.
Rivecco said that Page 3 of the Staff Report mentions data centers/call centers. Rivecco asked if that was one in the same use or separate. Danly said they are two different uses. Rivecco asked if there is enough electricity on site to support a data center. Danly said there would be more ComEd work needed, however, would not be sure until ComEd does an evaluation. Danly said that they would like to keep data center as a request.
Commissioner Duncan questioned any potential special uses being allowed as permitted uses and was not in favor of giving a blanket permitted use. Duncan asked about limiting the zoning to I-1 when the uses are closer to I-2. Danly said that when looking at I-1 and I-2, a lot of the zoning performance standards do not work for I-2. After working with Staff, it was decided that I-1 was the best way to handle the zoning, especially with the way the PUD was set up in 2005.
Duncan said that in 2005 the Village was thinking of ORI as a business park or industrial park and as more of a buffer to a commercial area or a mall. Duncan was concerned about the imperviousness for such huge spaces for parking and that there would be no swales or breakup of the concrete. Mitch Carrel said they would have to come back to the Village Board and Plan Commission for any site plan approval. Duncan said the petitioner mentioned berms for the west side. Toth said it would be the north side because the petitioner is asking for a reduction in standards since the freight and trailer area cannot face the right of way. The petitioner wants that to potentially face the right-of-way and to provide berming as another means of screening. Toth said the reduction in standards for the landscaping is not to increase impervious area on the property but to allow the site to function properly. Duncan noted her concern about lots of trailers moving in and out of the site off Route 31 and along Airport Road. Brownson said they do not believe there will be many trucks coming off Route 31 and will most likely come from Orchard Road.
Rivecco asked if Orchard Gateway would be improved from two lanes to four lanes. Toth said yes. In the actual agreement, it states that if it comes to the point with the development where it needs to be widened, the road will be improved. Rempe-Sharpe is currently reviewing a traffic study submitted by the petitioner.
Commissioner Bozik asked if the tractor trailer storage should be a stand alone permitted use or a secondary use based on whatever the primary use becomes of the property. Bozik said he does not want to see a paved area with just trailers. Toth said that would be an ancillary use at this point with the main use as a freight/distribution center.
Bozik said that when the original plan for the property came before the Village, the residential was proposed to try and give the developer something to fall back on knowing that the Village wanted the commercial development there. At that time, no one wanted to see the residential developed at the site. Bozik asked if this would be the appropriate time to say that if we allow
I-1/I-2, we could remove the residential portion from the PUD. Brownson said they approached Inland (owner of the property) about the same thing, but Inland was adverse to that idea.
Atty. Drendel said the Village envisioned that the site could be residential/commercial and that it did not make sense to have industrial included with those uses. It should either be residential/commercial or industrial/commercial. Brownson asked if that could be addressed through site plan approval.
Chairman Brackett asked about the location of the residential on the site. Lenkart said that page 5 noted a strip of property directly abutting Lots 3 & 4 to the south that is zoned residential. Toth said the old annexation agreement references Lot 20. Lot 20 is now Lots 3 & 4.
Brackett said he did recall that the Village conceded to giving the residential but there was some due diligence. Atty. Drendel said there was a time frame that had to pass. Carrel said the Annexation Agreement suggests that after three years, if the property is undeveloped, then 23 acres of the property may be developed as residential. Brackett agreed that it was never the intent to have residential.
Bozik said that in terms of permitted uses, does not want to permit any chemical manufacturing or large chemical storage facility, which could cause a significant issue to the environment and residential to the north.
Commissioner Tuohy asked if there was any consideration for property value impact to residents who back up to the property (off of Oak Street). Toth said there is substantial buffering between any existing residential to the north. There is Lot 18 and Lot 17 shows the entire buffer area. Then there is the ComEd right of way. Tuohy was also in agreement with Commissioner Duncan in terms of not permitting a blanket use for all uses.
Commissioner Carroll asked if there are any plans to open up Airport Road from behind Oberweis to I-88 as a completed thoroughfare. Toth said he was not aware of any plans. Carroll asked Atty. Drendel if the Village can make conditional approval on the first to develop. If industrial develops, eliminate residential. Atty. Drendel said this is a PUD but the problem is that there is any underlying property owner who has agreed to the application submitted but has not agreed to the limitation on residential. Atty. Drendel said he would have to explore this further.
Commissioner Lenkart asked the petitioner if there are any other commercial developments immediately adjacent to it where there is industrial next to commercial. Lenkart said he does not want an unsightly development next to retail resulting in people not wanting to go there. The Village will lose more retailers than what will be gained by getting this building. Brownson noted the Target/Kohls development in Romeoville next to Weber Road as an example of a commercial development with industrial adjacent.
Lenkart said that a 50-foot building height is an exceptionally large building. Most tenants can accommodate a 20-foot clear. Lenkart said that the industrial development would have a chilling effect on retail. Lenkart said he was not in favor of blanket special uses.
Carrel said that with regard to the conceptual site plan, it is only conceptual because there is no found user. The Plan Commission would have a second look to review the development and how it lays out and would have to comply with minimum standards for landscape and screening.
Jim Bibby said that with or without this development, Hansen at Orchard Gateway will be approaching a warrant that will require a signal at that location in 4 -5 years.
Commissioner Duncan said she was not sure if the property is ideal as commercial and wants the property to be used in the best way. Duncan added that maybe that use is what is being proposed by the petitioner which is similar to a lot of properties along the I-88 corridor.
Commissioner Bozik said that once the decision is made for industrial all other options go away. Bozik said that retail is changing but it is too soon to tell what the future holds. Bozik said he did not have a problem with the I-1 or I-2 zoning but suggested tightening up the restrictions to make it as compatible as possible with the retail component. Toth noted that the uses would only be those for the I-1 district.
Chairman Brackett asked the Plan Commission for their thoughts on the three main items of discussion:
1. Allowable uses
2. Residential/Commercial/Industrial zoning and the impact on the existing commercial
3. Potential of truck traffic being a problem
Commissioner Rivecco was not in favor of all special uses for I-1 being permitted uses. Data centers and self storage facilities should only be special uses. Rivecco was in favor of removing residential zoning to allow for I-1 zoning. Truck traffic will be manageable with the road improvement. Rivecco said he is concerned with industrial next to commercial, but could address it at site plan review.
Commissioner Duncan did not see the industrial zoning as a conflict for commercial. Traffic will be dealt with. Do not see residential being built so see it as a non issue. Would prefer to have more input regarding the uses.
Toth said there is currently detention on what would be the east side of the commercial development and the potential west side of the east development so that is additional buffering that would be factored in.
Commissioner Anderson said he shares a lot of Commissioner Lenkart’s concerns and is sensitive to Commissioner Bozik’s concerns. Anderson said he wants the land used and wants more jobs created in the village. Traffic will be taken care of. Don’t think residential is an issue. Most concerned about the uses.
Commissioner Tuohy said her concerns were the special uses and traffic. Wants to see more retail and is concerned about the appearance of tall buildings in the Village. Tuohy added that jobs are necessary and would like to see more jobs created.
Commissioner Carroll said we assume that in 20 years we will be driving to Target on Orchard Gateway and it could be that businesses such as those the petitioner is proposing are the ones that will be here. Carroll said that there is one restaurant chain that refused to come to this shopping center location in North Aurora because it did not like the way it was set up and they wanted access to I-88. Industrial is not the problem. The way the retail center is currently set up is the problem. Carroll said his main concern is with the specific uses. Carroll added that he wants to see something on the property to create jobs and revenue.
Atty. Carrel said that the applicant is willing to work with staff on limiting the number of potential uses if there is a concern for particular uses.
Commissioner Carroll asked if it is possible to include verbiage regarding the 3-year timeline for residential that was in the original PUD. Village Atty. Drendel said there is a certain application that is in front of the Commission and was hesitant to say the verbiage could be added. Drendel said it is complicated since there is already an existing PUD attached to an Annexation Agreement and therefore there are some vested rights.
Lenkart asked about tax dollars generated from a fulfillment distribution center such as Amazon. Toth said it depends on where the point of sale is for the items. Lenkart said a fulfillment center will not generate a lot of money.
Commissioner Lenkart said that the function of a freight terminal is to gather freight from multiple locations and then separate it and send it off to other locations. Lenkart suggested “freight terminal” be defined in the zoning ordinance. Toth said he would look into the definition used by other communities in the area.
The Plan Commission reviewed the special uses and made changes to the following:
-Airport/heliport – not permitted
-Dry cleaning – special use
-Self storage service facilities – special use
-Freight terminals - special use
-Utilities – special use
-Any wireless (antennae, facility or tower) – special use.
Motion made by Commissioner Carroll and seconded by Commissioner Bozik to approve the petition as submitted including Staff report recommendations and uses negotiated by the Plan Commission at this meeting and to maintain the underlying building height restriction of 35 feet.
Roll Call Vote: Carroll – yes, Bozik – yes, Lenkart – no, Duncan – yes, Anderson – yes, Tuohy – yes, Rivecco – yes. Motion approved (6-1).
NEW BUSINESS - None
OLD BUSINESS - None
PLAN COMMISSIONER COMMENTS AND PROJECT UPDATES
Commissioner Duncan asked if the Plan Commission would be receiving clean copies of the zoning ordinance. Toth said yes and that the new Ordinance is currently on the Village website.
Motion to adjourn made by Commissioner Carroll and seconded by Commissioner Duncan. All in favor. Motion approved.
Lori J. Murray