Members of Lombard's plan commission have been hearing one message from the public for the past five months: Preserve Ken-Loch Golf Links as open space.
The property is for sale and a housing developer is interested, so the commission was directed to determine if anything other than open space should be allowed.
Commissioners made a recommendation to the village board this week, aiming to follow public sentiment for open space preservation while giving what one called "a minimal concession."
In a 4-2 vote, the commission suggested the 30-acre former golf course be designated primarily open space, with a maximum of 25 percent of the site available for a possible "accessory use" that complements the open space.
"All we're saying is to make it a bit more attractive and enticing" to developers, plan Commissioner John Mrofcza said. "It's a minimal concession to make it a viable, long-term, go-forward plan or project."
The recommendation is the result of months of discussion about whether Lombard's comprehensive plan should be amended to allow anything other than open space on the site along Finley Road between 17th and 19th streets.
The property owners have found a prospective buyer in Donven Homes. The company wants to annex the unincorporated land into Lombard and build a multifamily residential development of apartments and for-sale units.
Plan commissioners, however, were not yet specifically considering Donven Homes' concept plan, which involves construction of 300 residential units on 11.5 acres with 18.5 acres for wetlands, water detention and open space.
That consideration could come later, but only if the village board approves the plan commission's recommendation to designate Ken-Loch as mainly open space with up to 25 percent available for development, said Bill Heniff, community development director.
"If you had a clubhouse, banquet hall or apartments or condos, really that is a catalyst that will be serving as the tool to preserve the remainder of the property as open space," Heniff said.
The village board is set to begin consideration of the commission's recommendation Feb. 7. Some residents have been asking the board to postpone any action until May, when a newly elected village president and trustees will be in place.
All three candidates for village president -- Trustee Keith Giagnorio, former York Township Trustee Moon Khan and former DuPage County Treasurer John Novak -- say they prefer the property remain open and suggested the best solution may be for the Lombard Park District to buy it, especially because it lies next to Four Seasons Park.
The park district is undergoing a strategic planning process of its own, and Executive Director Paul Friedrichs has said the agency is willing to work toward solutions to keep the property open. Plan commissioners Stephen Flint and Andrea Cooper said they favor keeping the entire property open and voted against the recommendation to the board. The four commissioners who voted to designate up to 25 percent of the land for development said they wanted to allow for other possible buyers in case the park district, village or forest preserve district are unable to afford the property.
Commissioner Ron Olbrysch encouraged residents who made their open space preference known to stay engaged as discussion moves to the village board.
Resident Nancy Schukat, who spoke several times opposing development, said she intends to keep rallying neighbors to attend meetings.
"I'm not quite sure if that is a good thing or not," Schukat said about the recommendation. "Designating open space is wonderful, but that 25 percent enhancements, that bothers me a little bit."