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Article updated: 4/17/2013 5:04 AM

Trustees: New Glen Ellyn subdivision too big

K. Hovnanian Homes is proposing construction of a subdivision on nine acres the northwest corner of Route 53 and Sheehan Avenue in Glen Ellyn.

K. Hovnanian Homes is proposing construction of a subdivision on nine acres the northwest corner of Route 53 and Sheehan Avenue in Glen Ellyn.

 

Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

A developer is proposing to build 23 houses on nine acres at Route 53 and Sheehan Avenue in Glen Ellyn. But a majority of the village board says the project as proposed is too dense.

A developer is proposing to build 23 houses on nine acres at Route 53 and Sheehan Avenue in Glen Ellyn. But a majority of the village board says the project as proposed is too dense.

 

Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

A Glen Ellyn neighborhood abuts a wooded 9-acre property at Route 53 and Sheehan Avenue where a subdivision of 23 houses is proposed.

A Glen Ellyn neighborhood abuts a wooded 9-acre property at Route 53 and Sheehan Avenue where a subdivision of 23 houses is proposed.

 

Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

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A plan to construct a subdivision of 23 houses in a Glen Ellyn neighborhood is being delayed due to concerns from some village trustees that the project is too dense.

K. Hovnanian Homes is proposing construction of the Amber Ridge subdivision on nine acres at the northwest corner of Sheehan Avenue and Route 53. It is across the street from Glen Crest Middle School in Glen Ellyn and bordered by homes to the north and west.

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It's the largest new housing development proposed in Glen Ellyn since 2002, when the village board approved changes to the local zoning code requiring new homes to have a maximum lot coverage ratio of 20 percent. K. Hovnanian officials are seeking zoning relief that would allow the development to comply with the pre-2002 designation of 25 percent, thereby allowing construction of more homes.

But that's one of the major sticking points for nearby residents and some members of the village board. No variations have been granted for new construction since the zoning code was changed, and Village President Mark Pfefferman said if the village board did grant the variations, it could establish a precedent.

The plan commission recommended approval of the project on a 6-4 vote -- with the caveat that only three of the 23 lots could have the 25 percent designation, and eight of the lots could have 22 percent.

Some trustees expressed a willingness to support a scaled down project with fewer lots that wouldn't require zoning variances. K. Hovnanian originally proposed a 15-home development, but later increased the number.

Company officials have said a blanket 25 percent designation would be preferable to accommodate a variety of homes that would "meet market demands."

Phil Luetkehans, an attorney representing nearby residents, said the developer is trying to stuff too much into a "five-pound bag."

"They kept shoving back in your face 23 lots," Luetkehans said at a village board meeting Monday. "This isn't because of a hardship. It's because they're trying to maximize their profits. There's no need for these blanket variations."

Trustee Peter Cooper said it may be a wise business decision for the developer to build as many homes as possible, but he's uncomfortable with granting variances allowing an especially large development considering flooding and impervious soil issues that have arisen in other parts of town.

Members of the village board including Pfefferman, Cooper, Diane McGinley and Robert Friedberg favored a reduction in the number of lots within the subdivision.

"I think the petitioner has heard there's great support for the project," Cooper said. "It just needs to be less dense."

The number of homes in the proposed subdivision increased in part after the developer consulted with village staff members, who requested Montclair Avenue be extended through the subdivision in an S-curve to connect with Sheehan. Were only 15 equally sized lots to be designated, no street would have been proposed to run through the development.

Residents are opposed to the S-curve, arguing that it would lead to increased traffic. A village-commissioned study found there would be an average of 400 vehicles per day that travel the new cut-through.

"When you go from 0 to 400 cars, there is a quality-of-life issue," said Joseph Abel, a planning and zoning consultant hired by residents opposed to the development. "It's a forced design that will result in a safety issue."

Trustee Phil Hartweg, who supports the project, said residents' concerns about increased traffic should be put in perspective with traffic on other streets in the village.

"You can get used to most anything," Hartweg told residents. "The quality of life is what you make of it. It's not your street."

The property was once used as farmland, and later sold to a developer in the mid-2000s with intentions of building homes. Because of the struggling economy, the property was then sold to Peace Lutheran Church, but the church's plans to construct a new building didn't occur either, and K. Hovnanian bought the property last year.

The developer's proposal has been considered at five meetings of the village plan commission, and on Monday, it received its first test before the village board, which grants final zoning approvals.

Following a five-hour meeting that extended past midnight Tuesday, the village board agreed to continue discussion of the proposal at a special meeting April 29.

A representative of K. Hovnanian said officials at that time would "present something that could be amenable to the entire board."

Pfefferman said the current board has "every intent" to rectify disagreements over the proposed subdivision before a new board is seated May 16. However, he said there's "significant challenges to overcome."

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