Glen Ellyn trustees have awarded a key village permit to developers of a proposed gas station but have yet to give final approval to a project that faces strong opposition from neighbors.
True North Energy wants to build the gas station and 4,200-square-foot convenience store that would operate around-the-clock at the southeast corner of Main Street and St. Charles Road. The company has entered into a contract to buy the long-vacant, village-owned land for $630,000.
Developers have redesigned the station in response to complaints the building wouldn't fit the area's historic character. Both Stacy's Tavern Museum and the Glen Ellyn Historical Society offices sit at the prominent intersection.
The latest design calls for a cupola with an octagonal tower made of copper above the entrance to the convenience store. Brick and limestone columns would support a canopy above gas pumps that would accommodate 12 vehicles.
But neighbors continue to raise traffic, flooding and environmental concerns. They also question the viability of the business, given that at least three previous gas stations have closed on the site northeast of Forest Glen Elementary School.
What's more, an online petition against the project has garnered more than 750 signatures.
"As gas stations go, that's a pretty one, but it belongs on North Avenue, not a few feet from where we take our kids to school," said David Hartsell, who lives on Meredith Place.
Trustees voted 4-0 this week to grant a special-use permit to developers, prompting opponents to shout, "Shame on you!" Trustee John Kenwood was absent. Trustee Mark Senak abstained from the vote, saying he wanted more details from village commissioners and staffers.
The plan commission last month recommended the board deny the permit request, but it still has to issue advisory opinions on other aspects of the project.
After the commission's partial recommendation, developers wanted to determine if the board was willing to approve the special use for the property, Village Manager Mark Franz said in an email. It's not uncommon for developers to seek such a review.
Plan commissioners are now set to consider the company's bid for six exemptions from village zoning rules at 7 p.m. April 13. Those variances, among other things, would allow developers to build a 6-foot-tall fence to better screen the east side of the property instead of the maximum fence height of 4 feet in village code.
Developers also would keep an undisturbed, wooded area behind the building that would range from 25 to 35 feet deep as a buffer for homes to the south.
The village paid $590,000 to buy the property in September 2010. It tried to spark redevelopment of the site by demolishing the former Marathon gas station and completing environmental remediation of the soil.
In 2012, the village put out a request for proposals from developers and received only two. One was not feasible, and the other called for a gas station, but that proposal fell through, village planners say.
About two years later, no one responded to the village's second formal request for proposals. The village board then hired a real estate firm, DKMallon, in August 2014 to market the property.
True North made an offer August 2015. The board agreed to enter into the contract with the company about a year ago.
"You didn't spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money, our money, to buy that property, demolish the gas station, remediate it with the state of Illinois and then turn it over to another gas station," Hartsell told the board. "Every gas station that's been on that property has failed."
The architectural review commission will now weigh in on the landscaping and fencing plans at 7 p.m. April 12.
Trustees will consider the recommendations by the two advisory panels on April 24.