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updated: 9/24/2012 11:41 PM

Wheeling leaders favor redeveloping land by airport

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More than half of 40 acres almost surrounded by Chicago Executive Airport should be aggressively redeveloped, the Wheeling village board indicated Monday night. The land on the west side of Milwaukee Avenue represents most of the village's Southeast Tax Increment Financing District.

Presented with five plans from a consultant, a majority of trustees ranked at the top one that would create 8.3 acres for redevelopment along Milwaukee Avenue and designate 14 acres for use by the airport or related businesses. About 5 acres would retain stormwater.

Trustee Bill Hein said it was critical to support expansion for the airport, "one of the crown jewels" in the community.

While the plan would displace many businesses, Waste Management, which has 11 acres, and SET Environmental, which is on 3 acres and handles such issues as disposing of hazardous materials, should probably stay, said Todd Vanadilok, senior associate for Teska Associates of Evanston. The planner said it would be difficult to find spots where those companies could get permits to relocate.

Trustee Kenneth R. Brady and other members of the board expressed a desire to keep any displaced businesses in the village.

"There are good businesses in there," said Brady. "They don't have enough room and have been there for years. It's always been an eyesore. The lots along Industrial Lane are too shallow. Some of the people are close to retiring, and the rest we could help them relocate."

The businesses were allowed to stay on the site, which is zoned industrial, when the village annexed the land several years ago, said Village Manager Jon Sfondilis.

The village staff requested trustees choose three of the five proposals for further study. The board soundly rejected an option to create redevelopment mainly by enforcing codes such as parking restrictions along Industrial Lane and limits on outdoor storage, despite a staff desire to include it in the three proposals.

Vanadilok presented a timetable that calls for taking the three options to the village's plan commission in October and holding a public hearing in late October or early November. A final concept for the land could be presented to the village board before the end of the year.

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