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updated: 6/8/2012 1:34 AM

DuPage zoning panel rebuffs COD plans

Says buildings should be approved one by one

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A DuPage County zoning panel refused to consider College of DuPage's long-term campus expansion plans Thursday, recommending that college officials bring back specifics when the structures are ready to be built.

The 7-0 recommendation from the zoning board of appeals to the county board says all future structures -- including a proposed water tower, well, treatment facility and three buildings -- should go through the county's approval process project by project.

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The panel on Thursday could have recommended all future projects listed on the college's planned development application be approved in one fell swoop, but board members cautioned against giving COD "carte blanche" for projects five, 10 or more years down the line.

"I don't think we have authority to grant any kind of zoning relief to concepts," zoning board member Thomas Laz said. "A good idea does not make a good case."

COD attorney Ken Florey said he "sees the wisdom" in the board's recommendation, though college officials still prefer all future buildings be approved at one time. He pointed to the county's previous endorsements of planned developments for Benedictine University, Cantigny Park and Morton Arboretum in which future buildings were approved years before they were constructed.

But zoning board members said they weren't getting specifics about COD's plans.

"We don't want to approve anything unless it's specifically discussed and presented," zoning board Chairman Robert Kartholl said.

Staci Hulseberg, Glen Ellyn's director of planning and development, said the board's recommendation "was appropriate."

The zoning board reviewed the college's application over the course of three meetings, during which Hulseberg joined residents in expressing concerns that the proposed expansion could lead to increased traffic, possible flooding and lower property values.

Though the college's 273-acre campus is within the boundaries of Glen Ellyn, the county is reviewing COD's building plans -- the result of an intergovernmental agreement that transferred regulatory control over building, permitting and zoning issues from the village to the county. The agreement, which went into effect in March, is an attempt to resolve a protracted legal battle in which the college argued it wasn't under the village's jurisdiction.

The zoning board also said Thursday that structures should be approved by the county even if Glen Ellyn already approved them.

If COD seeks proper county building permits, "we're able to reconcile (those buildings) we think," said Paul Hoss, the county's zoning coordinator.

What's harder to figure out is what to do about existing signage on campus -- the issue that made the intergovernmental dispute public two years ago when the village began issuing COD citations and stop work orders for installing signs that didn't comply with village code.

Hoss said county officials are discussing possible solutions, but the signs could be given "legal, nonconforming" status -- not unusual for structures when there's a switch in jurisdictions.

The county's development committee will consider the college's plans June 19, and if a vote is taken, the full county board could take up the issue as early as June 26.

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