Opponents blast proposed gas station near Glen Ellyn
Plans for a gasoline station, convenience store and car wash in an unincorporated area near Glen Ellyn have drawn opposition from nearby residents and officials from a park district who believe their properties would be unduly affected.
Buchanan Energy of Omaha, Neb., has proposed a 1.5-acre development for the northeast corner of Route 53 and Butterfield Road that would include space for 10 Mobil gas pumps that could serve as many as 20 vehicles, a 6,800-square-foot Bucky's convenience store and a 2,200-square-foot car wash.
The firm has been opening similar Bucky's stores in conjunction with new Mobil stations since it purchased 81 Mobil stations throughout the Chicago area in December 2010. It is seeking zoning variances for the project from DuPage County, and the zoning board of appeals will continue a public hearing on the matter Thursday.
It's possible the board will issue a recommendation to the county's development committee at that time. Ultimately, the final decision lies in the hands of the county board.
Similar Bucky's developments have been approved in Carol Stream, Vernon Hills and Buffalo Grove.
Officials from the Butterfield Park District, which serves residents in unincorporated areas near Glen Ellyn, Lombard and Downers Grove, have said the proposed development next to their recreational facilities on Butterfield Road would have an adverse aesthetic, ecological and financial impact on their property.
"No one piece of this is that disturbing, but when you put all of it on one site, it's too intense," said Larry Reiner, the park district's executive director. "There's too much going on."
The proposed development would be larger than the previous Shell station torn down there 15 years ago. As a result, Buchanan plans to cut down most of the existing trees on site, which is close to the property line with the park district.
Reiner says the trees serve as a buffer for the district's swimming pool and pavilion, where preschool and after-school programs take place. He said patrons could be faced with fumes from idling cars in line for gas and carwashes.
"We're not against development. That's the American way. But (this is) four times as large as the one that had been there in the past," Reiner said. "I don't think many people would want to rent out the pavilion for a wedding shower or whatever the case might be. To look at a nice, forested pristine area -- instead they'll be looking at the back of a car wash and signage from Bucky's."
Reiner said 1,200 nearby residents have signed a petition expressing their opposition.
Richard McMahon, a representative of Buchanan Energy, said there will be 60 feet of green space between the two properties and a 6-foot-high fence. New trees will be planted and will grow over time, he said, and Buchanan has offered to pay for additional plantings on the park district's side.
McMahon said the proposed development matches the former use of the property.
"This has been zoned for a Shell station that would have had the same kind of car wash and a Popeye's," McMahon said. "The park district is making a grab for this land that they can't buy. ... It's logical to continue to be used the way it's been used for 50 years. For Larry to get out there and say it shouldn't be now is disingenuous."
The property owner applied for and was granted a conditional use for a new Shell station and car wash facility in 2000, but the project never came to fruition, according to Paul Hoss, the county's zoning coordinator.
The property is now under contract, being sold by the Nicolette Rue Bauer Trust to Buchanan for close to $2 million, McMahon said.
Buchanan is also asking for variances to allow larger signage than is allowed under code and permission to allow outside storage for items such as propane tanks and windshield washer fluid.
The firm also plans to ask for a liquor license, but that request would be under the purview of the county's liquor control commission.
Buchanan owns the Mobil station across the street on the northwest corner of Route 53 and Butterfield. Plans to build a new, larger gas station there with the expanded convenience store and car wash were abandoned when the site was deemed to be too small, McMahon said.
At the time, Buchanan had a contract with KinderCare to purchase its property to the north of the gas station in hopes of expansion.
Ironically, KinderCare owns the property to the north of the proposed gas station on the northeast corner and it has moved its operations across the street. That's led Reiner and some residents to question whether Buchanan has grander plans to enlarge its development on the northwest corner.
"We don't need it. We don't want it," McMahon said. "I think he's just playing hardball to deny the use of this property by their owners for something they have a legal right to do."
Should the new Mobil station be approved, it's unclear what Buchanan would do with its existing station across the street.
The county zoning board of appeals meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday in room 3500-B of the county administration building at 421 N. County Farm Road in Wheaton.