Proposed megachurch near Winfield faces opposition
Many residents are voicing opposition to Willow Creek Wheaton's plans to construct a new megachurch in unincorporated DuPage County.
At a meeting last week of DuPage County's zoning board of appeals, none of the submitted public comments were in favor of the new regional location of Willow Creek Community Church. The planned church is to be situated along the west side of Winfield Road near the entrance of Cantigny Park.
One major point of contention is that Willow Creek Wheaton wants permission from the county to build a private well and a newer septic system known as a "membrane bioreactor." County code requires places of assembly to be operated using public sewer and water.
"It is disturbing that Willow Creek of Wheaton would put its parishioners, clients, and our fire safety and first responders at risk by asking for this variance from county fire code," Winfield Village President Erik Spande wrote in a recent Facebook post.
According to Spande's post, Willow Creek was in talks with Winfield about annexation and infrastructure before terminating discussions in 2018. Spande also cited the Winfield Fire Protection District's position "that municipal water is needed for such huge structures for fire safety."
Willow Creek representatives addressed the concerns during the zoning board of appeals meeting Aug. 27.
Attorney Tracy Kasson cited construction hardships for Willow Creek. He said the closest sewer connections is 1.8 miles away near Mack Road and that the DuPage Water Commission system is 7 miles away in Glen Ellyn.
Willow Creek representatives also went into detail about the well and membrane bioreactor system.
"I think the primary reason for places of assembly to have this requirement of public sewer and water was that there were some issues with septic systems failing in the past," Kasson said. "Those were the conventional trench-based systems. We've tried to show you that since 2014, there is a very innovative sanitary sewer hook up alternative that's just as comparable."
Kasson also cited the Illinois Department of Public Health has reviewed and approved the bioreactor system, and that the new permitted well will meet fire code.
Willow Creek representatives asked for more time to respond to public comments, since some residents also cited traffic and environmental concerns for their opposition.
The zoning panel is keeping the record open for additional comments until Sept. 15. A recommendation to the county board is expected to be made by Oct. 1.