The phrase "transit-oriented development" (TOD) has often been used by developers seeking to build near commuter rail in Buffalo Grove.
Judging from the reaction of village trustees, it's a good thing Chris Walsh of Tandem Architecture and Spearhead Properties did not use the label in asking for zoning variances for his proposal to build 15 townhouses at 23020 Easton Ave. near the North Central Metra commuter station.
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The 1.83-acre parcel is in unincorporated Prairie View directly north of the village's Fire Station 27 near the Woodland Commons shopping center. The townhouses would be in five buildings, with a mix of two- and three-bedroom units.
It would be the first multifamily zoning granted for land annexed in the area, but village Manager Dane Bragg said at Monday's board meeting that the use is consistent with the village's comprehensive plan.
Variances requested include for a private cul-de-sac 26 feet wide, versus the village's standard of 27 feet; 12-foot parkways, not 16-foot; the site being under the two acres normally required for the zoning requested and the four acres required for a planned unit development; and a front yard setback of 15 feet, not 35 feet.
Walsh said Spearhead focuses on developing properties around train stations. His own home, a couple of blocks north of the proposed development, has been annexed into the village from Prairie View, he said.
"In my opinion, Buffalo Grove is lucky enough to have two train stations. Eventually this whole area is going to be part of Buffalo Grove. We really need to consider how it's going to be folded into the area. TOD rule No. 1 is higher density around commuting areas and train stations. We use the train station all the time."
Trustee Jeffrey Berman said, "I have been known to sit up here and decry the labeling of a project as transit-oriented development, where it simply is a residential development and uses the label as an excuse for what, I think, at the time was ridiculously high densities. Fortunately, you didn't actually label this TOD and you haven't asked for ridiculously high densities."
He said the concept is worth pursuing, and the plan was referred to the planning and zoning commission for further review. Berman warned the planning and zoning commission probably would ask that the variances be scaled back. "But they are not out of bounds, as it were, for a first proposal," he said.
Village President Jeffrey Braiman said he feels similarly to Berman. He said he would prefer a public road to a private one, and questioned the size of the requested setback variance.
And Bragg said Scott Warren, the superintendent of Lincolnshire-Prairie View School District 103, has requested to be included in conversations regarding the impact of children from the development on the district.