When Lombard trustees began discussing future land use at Ken-Loch Golf Links more than a year ago, they did so to give direction to a housing developer considering buying the property.
Their recent vote to designate 75 percent of the property for open space, allowing possible development on up to 25 percent of the land, succeeded in sending a message to Donven Homes, said Don Stevens, the company's president.
Stevens said the new land-use designation shows the village board is not interested in annexing the 31-acre unincorporated property to allow his company to build apartments and townhouses.
"It's obvious we're going nowhere with Lombard," Stevens said.
A housing proposal the developer brought forward last year called for 256 apartments and 103 townhouses to house an estimated 736 people on the golf course site off Finley Road north of 22nd Street. Lombard Community Development Director Bill Heniff said the proposed development would occupy between two-thirds and three-fourths of the site -- more than allowed under the land-use designation approved last week.
Heniff said any annexation request will be analyzed to determine whether it fits with what trustees said they want on the site: open space -- preferably a golf course -- with a possible complementary development like a clubhouse or banquet hall and parking lot on up to 25 percent of the land.
"They'd rather just keep it open, but they aren't stepping forward to buy it," Stevens said. "That hurts the land owners."
The brother and sister who own the golf links, Rich and Linda Kensinger, say they have been looking for five years to sell it.
At a village board meeting in May, Rich Kensinger told trustees the way the property previously was listed in Lombard planning documents -- as completely open space -- "made our property unsellable."
In the days after the board changed the designation to allow development on up to 25 percent of the land, Kensinger said he had no comment. He and his sister have not yet discussed the new land-use policy and what it means for them, he said.
Trustees have said they are not trying to prevent the Kensingers from selling their property -- it can be sold right now and developed through DuPage County, which has zoned the site for single-family houses on large lots.
Public opinion, however, opposes residential development on the site, with residents voicing concerns about flooding, traffic and strain on village services at roughly a dozen meetings over the past year.
Stevens said Donven Homes is considering approaching DuPage County about developing the site, but the company's interest in buying Ken-Loch hinges on its ability to build some type of residences there.
"It's almost a no-brainer to think this is a development that is the highest and best use for the property," Stevens said about Donven Homes' housing proposal. "It seems to us that Lombard is not looking at this in the appropriate manner."