Lame-duck Rolling Meadows council approves townhouses on Dominick's site
Though some continued to try to delay a vote, a proposed 106-unit townhouse development on much of the former Dominick's property in downtown Rolling Meadows was approved Tuesday by the lame-duck city council.
The key vote in a long-running debate about what to do with the Kirchoff Road property -- left vacant by the departure of the grocer and other retailers beginning in 2004 -- came a week after three new aldermen were elected, along with a new mayor who has been staunchly opposed to plans for mostly residential on the former commercial site.
The 5-2 second reading vote Tuesday night -- in which Mayor-elect Joe Gallo was one of two aldermen to vote "no" -- follows the same 5-2 first reading tally taken the week before the election. The new council and mayor will be seated May 14.
Gallo and Alderman Nick Budmats sought to delay a vote until at least the next meeting April 23, but that motion failed 5-2, while they both were also on the losing end of a motion to cut off debate and call for a vote.
Gallo, who finished first in a four-way race for mayor, has supported a plan he devised with a local business owner for a town center with retail, residential and parkland on the 11-acre site at 2819-2915 Kirchoff Road.
He said during the council meeting Tuesday that for every resident who emailed him in favor of homebuilder Taylor Morrison's plans to redevelop 9.5 acres of the site, six others were opposed.
"If we move forward with this, we lose any opportunity to rejuvenate our downtown, and it will cost us future dollars," Gallo said.
Both supporters and opponents filled the council chambers Tuesday in hopes of convincing aldermen of their positions.
Four spoke during public comment in favor of the townhouse project, saying it was time to put something on the lot that's been empty for years.
Five others who were opposed argued the new council should evaluate plans that include more commercial.
The developer brought the proposal for 54 three-story homes and 52 two-story homes to the city's planning and zoning commission last month. That panel voted 4-3 to recommend the city council reject the project.
But a majority of aldermen have been in favor of a residential use on the Kirchoff site, having approved the rezoning of 9.5 acres from commercial to residential more than a year ago, along with preliminary approval of similar plans of developer Ryan Homes for 113 townhouses. That developer dropped out due to financial problems, and Taylor Morrison purchased the blueprints.
Alderman Mike Cannon said the retail environment has changed since Dominick's occupied the shopping center, while other strip centers across the city deal with vacancies.
Property owner Clark Street Development has also marketed the site for commercial with no success, Cannon added.
"I think any one of us would love to see commercial there," Cannon said. "I think we have to be realistic commercial is not going to come back there. It's not the reality of the marketplace."
Clark Street will retain two 0.8-acre lots fronting Kirchoff for potential future commercial use.