Rejected subdivision 'not right for Libertyville'
Before describing the 18 months of work needed for the proposed 148-home Oak Trails proposal in Libertyville, developer Peter Kyte thanked those involved for their time and surmised he was facing a "foregone conclusion" that he wouldn't get the approvals to proceed.
He was correct.
The Libertyville village board Tuesday followed its plan commission's recommendations and voted 6-0 against Kyte's plans for the property west of busy Butterfield Road and south of Lake Street.
Trustees said they were not against development but thought the plan by Roanoke Development Group was too dense, presented traffic and safety concerns and underestimated the impact on local schools, among other observations.
"Property owners certainly have rights, but this project is not right for Libertyville in my opinion," Trustee Jay Justice said. In a nod to the crowd of residents opposed to the plan, he noted -- twice -- that "government works best when citizens are involved."
Trustee Peter Garrity called out the Archdiocese of Chicago, which owns the 40 undeveloped acres, for not being a "good neighbor" and failing to react to concerns regarding the proposal.
"I'm disappointed the archdiocese hasn't listened to village residents ... and come up with a development that made sense," he said.
Garrity voted "present" on the request for a concept plan, saying he hoped the archdiocese and Roanoke would modify the idea and return to the board rather than seek annexation to Mundelein.
"The archdiocese is aware that our buyer's development proposal was turned down by the village board and we are currently considering potential next steps," spokesman Alejandro Castillo said Wednesday.
Trustee Donna Johnson suggested larger homes on lots of an acre or more as a compromise that would have less impact on the community and schools. She noted there was no traffic signal at the proposed main entrance off Butterfield.
"It would not be the kind of thing I think would be compatible for our community," she said. "We need to be particular about having the right development in the right location."
Lake County, which has jurisdiction on Butterfield, said a traffic signal was warranted at Lake Street on the north end, but the lessee of the Pine Meadow Golf Club, which also is owned by the archdiocese, rejected that idea.
The plan commission determined that without a signal the proposal wouldn't meet zoning standards and would have an adverse impact on adjacent areas.
The board's rejection of the plan could bring a legal challenge.
"It certainly opens the door to question that (but) it's a little bit soon to make a decision," Jerry Callaghan, an attorney for Roanoke, said after the meeting.
Kyte said that after extensive study Roanoke chose the Libertyville site in part because of a 2010 change in the village's comprehensive plan to allow homes there.
"This plan didn't come from us or the archdiocese; it came through the village process," he said.
Village officials noted the land still needs to be rezoned for residential use -- another of the requests denied Tuesday.
The decisions energized residents who since last fall packed three public hearings spanning 12 hours to oppose the plan. Because of the expected crowd, that last session as well as the village board's special meeting Tuesday were held at the Libertyville High School auditorium.
"I've told you all along this is not a done deal," community organizer Phil Brown, a retired marketing executive, told about 125 in the audience Tuesday during the public comment portion of the meeting.
In detailed presentations, Brown had outlined why he thought the value of the project and tax revenue to the village and other entities would be much less than expected.
"There is more here than just traffic that's a problem," he told the board. "Deny the whole thing outright and start again."
On Wednesday morning, Brown described the rejection as "a welcome first step" and asked those on his considerable contact list to write Cardinal Blase Cupich.
"Remind the archdiocese that we are optimistic that it will see our interest in proper, practical and pleasant application of land use," he wrote.