Plans by the Vernon Hills Park District for a $2.5 million maintenance building on the north end of its largest park will advance with input from neighbors.
Nearly two years in process, the proposed structure would be built on about 2 acres owned by the village parallel to the EJ&E railroad right of way on the north end of Century Park.
At 12,889 square feet, the building would be more than twice the size of the existing facility at 7 Phillip Road.
The village board this past week informally approved rezoning and variations involving parking, setbacks and signs.
The 5-1 vote overruled the village's planning and zoning commission, which recommended denial of the zoning change and special use permit. But the commission recommended the site, landscaping, architectural and sign plans.
"It was kind of a mixed review," said Trustee Jim Schultz, who with Trustee Mike Marquardt will meet with park district officials, staff and residents regarding landscaping, screening and other issues before the village board makes a final decision.
Five residents from Cedar Court and Echo Court spoke against the proposal during a recent commission hearing on the plan, saying the location and use weren't appropriate for the area. There also was a complaint about the building design and the future views into a maintenance yard from the second and third stories of homes.
Schultz said there are more than 100 residents in the area but not all are that close.
"I didn't see a major groundswell for some of the negativity," he said. "We're doing everything we can to give it a natural appearance. It's Prairie-style architecture, and we've asked the park district to soften" the look of the facility.
On the village board, Trustee Thom Koch was the sole vote against the rezoning.
"I'm reluctant to overturn a commission," he said, adding he intended to do more research and could change his vote for the final version.
Jeff Fougerousse, the park district's executive director, said the district looked at 10 or more other sites, including existing buildings, but found they would be too expensive to buy or renovate.
The current building has no female restrooms, no locker rooms and a 6-foot by 9-foot break room for a staff of 17.
"It's significant space issue," Fougerousse said.