DuPage County approves 84 houses on Planter's Palette site despite opposition from neighbors

A developer has received permission from DuPage County to build dozens of age-restricted houses on the site of a former garden nursery near West Chicago, despite opposition from neighbors who say the project would worsen area traffic problems.

County board members voted 10-6 Tuesday to approve Pulte Homes' request for a conditional-use permit to construct an 84-house subdivision called Trillium Farm on most of the land that was part of The Planter's Palette.

"This development is necessary for this county," board member Sam Tornatore said before the vote. "We need a development such as this."

The Planter's Palette closed last fall after nearly 40 years in business.

Pulte plans to buy 35 acres of the roughly 40-acre property south of Roosevelt and Garys Mills roads and east of Purnell Road to build Trillium Farm. Company representatives say the subdivision would provide more housing options for seniors.

"Pulte has always looked at this project as targeting a demographic that is growing and is in need of new housing options in this county," said Russ Whitaker, an attorney for Pulte.

Still, more than 60 neighbors attended the meeting to oppose the project. Traffic was the biggest concern of those who spoke.

Plans call for Trillium Farm to have two proposed entrances on Purnell Road. But neighbors say traffic on Purnell already backs up regularly at Winfield Road and building more houses would compound the problem.

To alleviate the traffic concerns, the county's development committee proposed two conditions.

The first requires Trillium Farm to be an age-restricted community so houses could be sold only to buyers 55 and older. Officials say that would reduce traffic from the subdivision during the morning and evening rush hours.

The other condition calls for traffic calming measures that would include turning restrictions in the morning at Garys Mill and Purnell, and in the evening at Winfield and Purnell; a speed radar monitoring sign; and a warning sign to alert drivers to backups on Purnell.

But John Dusza, Winfield Township's highway commissioner, told the county board the proposed turning restrictions would greatly impede the ability of existing residents to get to and from their houses. He said other suggested traffic calming measures aren't practical.

"Winfield Township does not pay for a dedicated sheriff's deputy to patrol township roads," Dusza said. "There realistically would not be anyone around to enforce the restrictions on a constant basis."

The six county board members who opposed the conditional use are Jim Zay, Grant Eckhoff, Tim Elliott, Robert Larsen, Julie Renehan and Sheila Rutledge. Several of them agreed the traffic problems on Purnell are significant.

"We've had some fairly controversial development issues" in the last nine years, Larsen said. "I have never seen a reaction by the residents like I have seen for this one. They're the people who are going to have to live with the consequences of this."

Rutledge said Pulte should have acquired land to create an entrance at Roosevelt. "It would take care all of the issues that we're talking about," she said.

But board member Jim Healy, who voted for the conditional use, said the land was going to be developed. He said he hopes Pulte addresses the traffic issues.

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