Claims that a proposed gas station, convenience store and car wash near Glen Ellyn would significantly increase air pollution at a neighboring park have convinced some DuPage County Board members to delay a vote on the project.
The county board's development committee Tuesday postponed its vote on a conditional-use permit request for the proposed Mobil station and Bucky's convenience store at the northeast corner of Route 53 and Butterfield Road. It then sent the plans back to the zoning board of appeals.
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The delay came after opponents claimed the gas station and convenience store would attract so many cars and trucks that toxic air pollutants would increase. That, opponents say, could pose a health risk for children using the neighboring Butterfield Park District facilities.
"That (development) is being built next to three preschools and a heavily used park district outdoor facility," said Phil Luetkehans, the attorney representing the park district. "The amount of idling cars on the property would cause benzene emissions that could prove dangerous to the children."
County board member Gary Grasso, who suggested the delay, said he wants zoning board members to explore the air pollution claim. Apparently, the issue wasn't considered before the zoning board voted 4-2 last month to recommend approval of the conditional use.
"It doesn't look like there's anything in the record on this issue," Grasso said. "At the same time, we're talking about serious conditions here."
Grasso said it will be up to the development's opponents to prove their claim. "The burden on them is to prove that to be true for this site," he said.
Meanwhile, the lawyer representing Buchanan Energy of Omaha, Neb., the company seeking the conditional-use permit, dismissed the air pollution claim.
"There's no empirical data," attorney Henry Stillwell said. "There are no qualified reports or expert testimony supporting anything with respect to benzene."
In addition to a gas station with 10 pumps, Buchanan Energy's plans call for a 6,800-square-foot convenience store and a 2,200-square-foot car wash.
Area residents and Butterfield park officials say the proposed development is too large for the 1.5-acre site, which formerly housed a smaller Shell station.
The former station was torn down 15 years ago and a new one was proposed and granted approval in 2000. Ultimately, though, that project never got off the ground.
If the new development becomes a reality, opponents argue it would diminish the use of the park facilities and destroy the setting the park district has had since 1965.
Once the development committee makes its recommendation, it will be up to the full county board to make the final decision.