Life Time Fitness plan down, but not out, after commission vote
After a lengthy fact-finding process, the Lake Zurich planning and zoning commission voted 5-1 against a plan to build a Life Time Fitness at the old Hackney's site, 880 N. Old Rand Road.
Life Time Fitness wants to build a 125,000-square-foot health and fitness club and an outdoor pool deck at the location. The three-story building would be 58 feet tall and would be adjacent to residential property on three sides.
The commission's decision against the recommendation was music to the ears of residents who have opposed the plan since it was unveiled in August 2017. Each time the plan has come before a public body, the meeting room in the village hall basement has filled with residents. Wednesday night was no exception, with several audience members standing in the back of the room.
The overwhelming vote does not necessarily spell doom for the project. The plan is still scheduled to go before the village board at their Feb. 5 meeting, but it will do so without the positive recommendation from the planning and zoning commission.
Wednesday night was the third planning and zoning commission meeting dedicated to discussing the facts of the proposal. At the previous two, the public comment section went on so long the meetings had to be continued. But on Wednesday the public portion closed at 8:18 p.m. and the commissioners had an opportunity to ask questions of Life Time as well as offer their own opinions on the plan.
Commissioner Antonio Castillo made many of the same points against Life Time's plan that residents have made about the project hurting property values, creating dangerous traffic scenarios and being too big for the site.
"Show me how to squeeze 10 pounds into a 2-pound sack and I can make us millionaires. It's not the right place for it," Castillo said, which drew applause from the audience.
Commissioner Kurt Baumann said he appreciated Life Time's interest in Lake Zurich but agreed he didn't think the location was right.
"Life Time sounds like a great operation. I think we want it to come," Baumann said. "I'm just not sure this is the site."
Commissioner Ildiko Schultz said she didn't recall ever spending so much time on a single proposal.
"We can be a great business-friendly community and at the same time a great residential community," Schultz said. "Approving Life Time would put the balance too much on the business side and not enough on the residents' side."
The lone vote in favor of Life Time's plan was from Orlando Stratman, the commission's chairman.