Elgin planners swayed by neighbors opposing proposed self-storage business

The owners of 24 homes just outside Elgin's borders believe a new 700-unit self-storage facility that wants to come to the far west side of the city will destroy their neighborhood by plopping an industrial facility into a residential atmosphere.

Elgin's planning and zoning commission was swayed by their concerns and voted 5-1 Monday night against the project.

Plans reviewed Monday night would turn a long-vacant property near Route 20 and Randall Road into a facility that will contain five one-story buildings with more than 90,000 square feet of total floor area.

Jeff Pelock, president of the Elgin-based company developing the project, said he is aware of the concerns of the neighbors. That's why berms and landscaping were incorporated into the plans to act as a friendly buffer between the property and the neighborhood, he said.

Owners of the property believe the addition of a stormwater detention pond will also create long-sought drainage improvements for all adjacent properties.

"When you put the berm and the landscaping in there, it's really going to minimize the visibility," Pelock said. "We did everything we could. It's never going to be perfect."

An all-star cast of opponents who see the project as quite far from perfect came forward.

Former Kane County Chief Judge F. Keith Brown lives in the adjacent Weldwood Oaks neighborhood and said he expects a storage unit secured only by cameras and fencing will attract "negative activity" to the area.

"Where do you draw the line when you have a plan and you're going to make an exception to that plan?" Brown said. "How does it increase the quality of life for the people living in that area? This plan lowers the property value for the people and limits my opportunity to have more neighbors to live on that street."

Kane County Board member Vern Tepe also spoke against the plan.

"When a development project changes the very nature of a community, I get concerned," Tepe said. "When the value of homes are negatively impacted by a project, I get concerned."

In 2008, city officials approved a plan for the construction of five single-family homes and 34,000 square feet of office space spread among three buildings. That project was never built. Residents in the neighborhood were also opposed to that plan.

The self-storage developers said that project was an example of a more intense use that would still be in line with nearby commercial activity and could be built on the property instead.

The full city council gets the plan commission's recommendation but will take its own vote to approve or deny the project before anything happens at the property.

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