The future of the former Ken-Loch golf links, a 30-acre site for sale near south Lombard, may hinge on land-use discussions now taking place in the village.
The property owners have found a prospective buyer in Donven Homes, which wants to annex the unincorporated land into Lombard and build a multifamily residential development of apartments and for-sale units.
To do that, however, the village would have to amend its comprehensive plan, which currently identifies the land as open space.
Lombard's plan commission has sought public input about the site since September, aiming to make a recommendation to the village board early next year about any possible changes to the comprehensive plan.
"While the Donven concept plan may have initiated the discussion, our focus is on land use and future land use for this parcel," said Chris Stilling, assistant director of community development. "The role of the plan commission is to review land use and make a recommendation to the village board."
In three meetings since September, plan commissioners have heard from Lombard residents living near the former nine-hole golf course who are concerned about the consequences of possible development.
"It's been very clear the public wants to keep it as open space," plan commission member Stephen Flint said.
The Ken-Loch property was purchased in 1961 and opened as a golf course two years later.
The desire to preserve open space is expressed in the village's comprehensive plan, a document used to guide long-term zoning and land-use decisions. The plan has stated since 2008 that the Ken-Loch property should remain as open space and was updated in 2010 to make the point more strongly.
"Regarding Ken-Loch golf links, the village should amend its previous annexation recommendations to ensure the property remains in use as open space," the plan reads. "The property should only be annexed as part of a request and companion plan to enhance the open space/golf course amenity."
Neighbors say they want the property to remain open because of its proximity to Lombard Park District's Four Seasons Park and because they do not want additional traffic in their area. The Ken-Loch land is along Finley Road between 17th and 19th streets, directly south of the park.
"Traffic is bad on the south end of Lombard," said Nancy Schukat, who lives on 18th Street east of the golf course. "You can't put that many more people, that many more cars."
A concept plan from Donven Homes suggests the company could build 300 residential units on 11.5 acres, leaving 18.5 acres for wetlands, water detention and open space.
Bob Roe, who lives on 17th Street east of the course, said he is most concerned about the high-density aspect of the proposed development.
But the concept plan from Donven Homes is not what the plan commission is reviewing. The panel only is evaluating whether to recommend a change in the Ken-Loch property's designation from open space to another use such as retail or residential.
"Staff doesn't want to dismiss the concept of open space," said Bill Heniff, community development director. "Once you give up open space, it's gone forever."
After meetings in December and January, the commission is scheduled to make a recommendation to the village board about future use of the site. If the board decides it wants the land to remain open, it may need to find a buyer.
The park district has not been contacted about purchasing the property, Executive Director Paul Friedrichs said. The district is undergoing a strategic planning process of its own and would be willing to work toward solutions to keep "the biggest undeveloped area in Lombard" open, he said.
"We wanted to make sure the village knew we were interested in doing whatever we could to help preserve open space in Lombard," Friedrichs said.
He sent a letter to community development staff members saying "the park board was unanimous in the idea of keeping Ken-Loch open space" in an October vote.
The plan commission will meet next at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17 in the board room at village hall, 255 E. Wilson Ave., to continue Ken-Loch land use discussions.