Neighbors opposed to Willow-Pfingsten development have their say

 
 
Updated 3/11/2021 12:09 AM

Those 41 members of the public waiting to speak at Tuesday's Glenview Plan Commission meeting regarding the proposed Willows Crossing Shopping Center will have to wait two more weeks.

A remote meeting that Plan Commission Chair Steven Bucklin adjourned at 10:53 p.m. after 3 hours, 54 minutes of procedure and discussion, it consisted of a lengthy presentation by neighbors opposed to the development, followed by cross-examination of members of the property's development team.

 

This series will be at least a three-parter, the presumed finale scheduled by Bucklin for 7 p.m. March 23.

On Feb. 23 the Plan Commission meeting heard owner GW Properties experts' rationale for why the Village of Glenview should rezone the 8.55-acre plot on the southwest corner of Willow and Pfingsten roads from R-1 residential to a combination of B-1 business and R-4 residential, the latter 2.35-acre parcel providing water retention. It seeks to establish a shopping center featuring a 35,000-square-foot Amazon Fresh store, three other smaller commercial buildings and 294 parking spaces.

Tuesday's meeting featured the opposing neighbor group's presentation on why they felt the plan failed to meet the standards of review for zoning before focusing on its perception of flaws in the site plan. Titled, "Analysis of an Irresponsible Plan," they stated their case point by point.

Carol Sullivan, among plaintiffs who have legislation against the village dating to September 2019 regarding legal notice of a zoning change, helped set the tone near the outset.

Last July she was able to instigate a still-standing, Appellate Court-issued temporary restraining order on construction for improper tree removal. She typified circumstances around the tree removal as misleading and believed she'd "been targeted for retribution" by the selective removal of a tree on her property after a village stop-work order.

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"This is not a 'first-class process,' a phrase that Mr. (Mitch) Goltz (GW Properties principal) emphasized on multiple occasions during previous Plan Commission meetings," Sullivan said.

Skip Newman, who described himself as an accountant and 38-year resident of Maple Leaf Drive, was compelling in his testimony on the financial considerations of the development. That would correlate to the "relative gain" term contained in one of the eight standards of review for rezoning.

He took issue with the GW team's assessment of a $40 million "investment" into the area and summarized that the development would provide no financial benefit to the community.

"The real estate argument is a negative for this proposed shopping center. Residential will generate way more property tax," Newman said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Accordingly, GW Properties' entire argument regarding investments, sales, sales taxes, real estate taxes are false and or disingenuous and should be completely ignored and discarded," said Newman.

His later observations on site plan circulation included his theory that around 90% of traffic from Pfingsten Road would use one entrance into the center.

Addressing the suitability of the property for the zoned purposes, Miller Drive resident Debbie Liner stated that the development does not comply with B-1 zoning, nor to the village's 2017 Comprehensive Plan.

"The truth is that Amazon's quote, 'grocery stores,' are really small distribution centers for their delivery business as well as customer return centers. These are distribution centers disguised as grocery stores," she said.

And so it went with resident testimony, capped by the summary of another Miller Drive resident, Brett Hanley -- who with his wife, Elaine, has a second lawsuit against the village in this matter.

"We're all, frankly, tired, honestly," Brett Hanley said to the Plan commissioners, not of Tuesday's meeting but of the entire process.

"The question in front of you is not, did the developer make the site plan better," he said. "The question in front of you is, do we rezone the property given the rezoning standards, the attributes of the site and the site plan as presented. Based on all the facts and information we've provided, and the issues that we've presented in additional public comments from some of the hundreds of people in attendance, the answer is clearly no."

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