Plans for a combination gas station, convenience store and car wash in an unincorporated area near Glen Ellyn took a step forward Thursday during a hearing before a DuPage County panel, despite opposition from area residents.
The county's zoning board of appeals voted 4-2 to recommend approval of a conditional use for the proposed 1.5-acre Mobil gas station and Bucky's convenience store development at the northeast corner of Route 53 and Butterfield Road.
The matter now goes before the county's development committee, which will issue its recommendation to the county board. The county board ultimately is charged with granting approval or denial.
Buchanan Energy of Omaha, Neb., which is purchasing the vacant site for close to $2 million from the Nicolette Rue Bauer Trust, has proposed a gas station with 10 gas pumps, a 6,800-square-foot convenience store, and a 2,200-square-foot car wash.
The project is opposed by several area residents and officials from the Butterfield Park District, who have argued the size of the proposed facility would negatively affect their adjacent recreational space on Butterfield Road. About 100 residents attended Thursday night's public hearing.
Zoning Board Chairman Robert Kartholl said decisions by the Illinois Supreme Court on conditional uses made it difficult for him to vote against recommending approval of the proposed development. He said there's an "automatic presumption" the proposed use is permitted in that zoning district, and it's only under very specific grounds that such a use could be denied.
"I don't know how we could deny this and not face problems," Kartholl said.
Board member Barry Ketter agreed: "While I probably wouldn't want this next to me, I don't see a legal basis to deny this. It's hard when you have the whole community here and they don't want it, but you need a legal basis to deny and we don't have it."
Board members Jim McNamara and Michael Loftus voted against the project.
Loftus said the proposed development is too large for the site, which formerly housed a smaller Shell station.
"I've driven there since 1977 on my way to work every day from Lisle to Addison. It's just too much for the property. It doesn't fit. It's intrusive. It's geared to be a high volume station. When you really get down to their business model and what they need to make it work, they need more cars than what's on the drawings," Loftus said. "It's five gallons of gas in a two-gallon tank."
The former Shell station was torn down there 15 years ago, and a new one was proposed and granted approvals in 2000. Ultimately, the project never occurred.
Larry Reiner, the park district's executive director, said the district didn't oppose those plans at the time because the gas station was much smaller than the one proposed now, and there wasn't "scientific proof we have today about the harmful effects of having these types of facilities near children."
He said the development would diminish the use of the park facilities and destroy the setting the park district has had since 1965.
"A conditional use is not supposed to be injurious to the adjacent neighbor," Reiner said. "It's a good project. But it's at the wrong location."
The park facilities are screened by vegetation on the station site, though Buchanan plans to cut down many of those trees and shrubs.
However, the company has put up tape along the property line that indicates some existing vegetation -- about six to eight trees -- sit on the park district's property, according to Paul Hoss, the county's zoning coordinator.
"That will be preserved because Bucky's can't touch that," Hoss said.
Some shrubbery will be kept on the gas station's property as much as 10 feet away from the property line, and a 65-foot-wide detention pond will be installed nearby, Hoss said.
An 8-foot tall fence is also proposed to be installed.
The zoning board will review final language on its recommendation at its next meeting on Thursday, July 18. Absent a motion for reconsideration, the recommendation would proceed to the development committee Aug. 6.