Minutes of the Regular Meeting of the Gurnee Plan Commission - January 18, 2012

Village of Gurnee
Plan Commission Minutes
January 18, 2012

The meeting was called to order at 7:30 P.M.

Plan Commission Members Present:    Chairman James Sula, David Nordentoft, Richard McFarlane,
Sharon Salmons, Patrick Drennan

Plan Commission Members Absent:    Gwen Broughton

Other Officials Present:    Tracy Velkover, Planning Manager; Scott Drabicki, Village Engineer

1.  Approval of Plan Commission Meeting Minutes for January 4, 2012.

Ms. Salmons made a motion, seconded by Mr. McFarlane, to approve the Plan Commission Meeting Minutes for
January 4, 2012.

Roll Call
Ayes:        Sula, Nordentoft, McFarlane, Salmons, Drennan
Nays:        None
Abstain:    None
Motion Carried:    5-0-0

2.  Final PUD Plat Approval: Net3 Real Estate LLC
Ms. Velkover stated the petitioner, Net3 Real Estate LLC, is requesting Final PUD Plat approval for an approximate
7,000 sq. ft. one-story, multi-tenant retail building on an existing 0.96 acre outlot in the Grand Hunt Center, which is located at the southwest corner of Grand Avenue and Hunt Club Road. She stated the petitioner is also requesting minor modifications to the required landscape and signage standards. She stated the subject property is zoned C/B-2-PUD, as a Planned Unit Development. She stated back in 2009 the PUD was amended to create this outlot. She stated as part of the amendment they were allowed to remove (9) nine evergreen trees from the buffer yard with a proposal to replace those trees interior to the site along the east and west property lines.

The petitioner, Mr. Matt Friedman representing Net3 Real Estate LLC, introduced himself. He stated they are planning a retail development consisting of a 3-tenant building, approximately 7,000 sq. ft. and is outlot #7.  He stated they have gone through preliminary engineering and design with the Village and have met with the Village Forester regarding the site. He stated when the site was created he believed it was to be a landscaped lot and noted when the original PUD was done it was forested at the front of the lot to keep from view from Grand Avenue as well as at the sides of the lot. He stated from the aerial view there are as many trees along the front of this site as there are in front the detention areas. He stated when the lot was created in 2009 it was allowed to be developed with an Amendment to the PUD that included the removal of the evergreen trees. He did note that the trees have not yet been removed and stated once the lot is developed trees would have to be planted along the sides of the existing lot. He stated according to their landscape plan it would be would be very difficult to plant along the sides of the lot, and therefore, they will plan to replace this with a fully developed landscape plan in accordance with the Village requirements with the exception of asking to donate money into the tree fund in lieu of replacing certain trees on the site.

Mr. Friedman stated according to their site plan the 7,000 sq. ft., 3-tenant building would face Grand Avenue. He stated presently they three tenants lined up:  the Vitamin Shop, 4 Eyes and Select Comfort. He stated (2) two leases have been executed at this time with the 3rd one being relatively close. He stated once construction is started the building will be 70-80% occupied with the possibility of 100% occupancy at completion. He stated if the approval process is reached occupancy would hopefully be anticipated between August – October of this year.

Mr. Friedman noted the elevations facing Grand Avenue, the ring road as well as the side elevations. He stated what is being shown on the elevations is the revision of additional signage. He stated what he believed is allowed are (2) two signs and stated because they have (3) three tenants they have gone to (3) three signs, as well as increasing the size of the signs which are in alignment with what has been done previously in other developments.

Mr. Friedman noted the trees that are allowed to be removed as well as what trees they would be relocating according to their landscape plan. He stated the proposed landscape plan does meet Village requirements and noted instead of replacing the evergreen trees along the sides of the property they are asking to put these into a tree fund along with (3) three canopy trees and (1) one other type of tree. He noted this is approximately $8,700 worth of trees into the fund. He stated the buffer yard, parking lot and dumpster enclosure around the back of the building would still maintain the required amount of landscaping. He stated in going back to the elevation it is kind of unfair as the back of the building and the dumpster enclosure will be very difficult to see. He noted the sides of the property are substantially planted as well. He stated they did thin it out and they want to create a view corridor as it would be critical to their tenants as well as the signage, thus, the request for the increase in the signage.  

Chairman Sula asked for the variations on the signage that the petitioner is requesting.

Mr. Friedman responded there will be no variation to the monument (ground) signs. He stated for lots less than (1) acre (2) two 40 sq. signs feet are allowed per the PUD.  He stated when the PUD was envisioned some time ago this signage amount would have been for a 2-tenant building. He stated this will be a 3-tenant building and in order to satisfy their tenant’s requirements, each tenant would get their own sign; therefore, they are requesting (2) two 60 sq. ft. signs for their two main (anchor) tenants and (1) one 40 sq. foot sign for the center tenant, as well as (2) two 40 sq. ft. signs for the side of the building for their two anchors tenants.  He stated a total of (3) three 40 sq. ft. signs and (2) two 60 sq. ft. building signs are proposed versus (2) two 40 sq. ft. signs allowed per PUD.  He also stated no signage is proposed on the rear of the building.  

Chairman Sula clarified the signs are per the current PUD and not per the zoning. He noted this is a very technical issue and wanted to make sure the Commission was clear on this point.

Chairman Sula asked for questions from members of the Commission.

Mr. Nordentoft stated under normal circumstances he tends to push for the maximum on the site as far as landscaping. He stated given the challenges the Village has against working against the evil Emerald Ash Bore, the fee in lieu relating to the tree fund is acceptable with him. He stated he believes the petitioner is doing everything they can to preserve what is currently on the site. He stated one of the things in the notes that was not discussed, was Staff asking the petitioner to consider running a sidewalk connecting the property to the sidewalk on Grand Avenue. He stated he is aware there may be some grading issues but in his opinion the Village needs to encourage pedestrian accessibility. He stated he doesn’t believe there is anything that cannot be overcome as related to grading and asked the petitioner to address what the challenges are in getting connectivity to Grand Avenue.

Mr. Friedman responded they had their engineers take a look at a sidewalk. He stated the drainage swale is along the property line and noted once the engineers calculated the grades and what would be involved to put a sidewalk in, it would have required steps and handrails. He stated when the engineers looked closely at this it was not so much an issue of price but more as a usability issue as the grade differentiation was too great. He stated there is approximately a (6) six foot difference in grade between the parking lot and the existing sidewalk. He stated there is only about 50 feet to cover (6) six feet and this is the reasoning they shared with Staff as not being a good idea.

Mr. Nordentoft stated it is his opinion 6 feet over 50 feet may seem like a lot if there is no interest in putting in any stairs and it would obviously be a ramp over a sidewalk.  He stated he likes to challenge people to think outside of the box and that it is alright for people to take stairs. He is aware of maintenance issues but wants the record to reflect that this was discussed, the options were explored and what his concerns are.

Mr. Nordentoft asked what type of signage would be put onto the building and asked for the petitioner to review the intended signage on the monument signs.

Mr. Friedman responded each tenant has their own individual branding. He stated blue is the predominate color and will match the awnings on the building. He stated their proposed tenants have not yet done their signage programs. He stated the signage for the buildings and the sign panels on the monument signs will be standard with no neon. He stated typically they do a clear panel allowing the tenants to then do their typical graphics and logos within reason noting the signage would all be back-lit.
Mr. Nordentoft asked if the petitioner was referring to back-lit box signs.

Mr. Friedman responded it would not be a box sign, but it would be back-lit letters.

Ms. Velkover stated the PUD requires individual channel letter signs.

Mr. Nordentoft stated he wanted to get a feel whether this was coming in as entry level, baseline signage, or if there was anything in terms of upgraded signage with materials, quality or lighting. He stated what is being asked for is consideration and, from his perspective, he is looking for something in exchange for consideration. He stated he knows the Commission is present to measure if the petitioner is within substantial conformance within the preliminary and noted the answer is yes. He stated getting things on the table the petitioner is asking to double the square footage of the signage on the building and he is getting entry level signage quality for the building and monument signs. He stated usually these opportunities are used to negotiate these things and asked what would be gained as far as some increased quality.

Mr. Friedman responded he has no problem working with the Commission on this. He stated from his perspective as well as his tenant’s perspective, if they are allowed to have a larger signs they would not have a problem with higher quality signage. He stated for larger signs with increased square footage the better the tenants will like it and he has no problems with doing some submittals on signage.

Mr. Nordentoft stated in his opinion, that fact that the petitioner is open to this is great.

Chairman Sula stated the key is that this would not be box signs and that they would be the back-lit channel letter signs.

Mr. McFarlane asked if the monument sign and building signs would not be a box signs.

Mr. Friedman responded currently it would be a box sign with panels that go inside. He stated it would be one dimensional with a flat panel if allowed by the Village, and noted if not allowed by the Village, he would not have a problem going to his tenants informing them that this isn’t allowed.

Ms. Velkover stated box signs are not allowed for wall signs. She stated for ground signs currently in the area, they are basically box panel on top of a brick or stone foundation.

Mr. McFarlane stated he is trying to upgrade.

Ms. Velkover stated this could certainly be made a condition of the Final PUD Plat approval in exchange for the additional sign size.

Mr. McFarlane stated he would like to see something better than a box sign.

Mr. McFarlane stated as far as the sidewalk he is not willing to just say that if the petitioner would have to put in stairs, they are just thinking of straight lines. He stated the sidewalk can be achieved. He stated trying to get a 6 feet rise over 50 feet could be accomplished by getting a 6 foot rise over 60 feet forming a sidewalk that would not be straight. He stated it could be put at an angle, perhaps as an “S” if needed. He noted stairs would not have to be put in by moving some shrubbery, keep the trees in place, and allow the sidewalk to meander through the area. He stated curved sidewalks look better and he suggests that the landscaping be blended in around it.

Mr. Friedman responded he does not disagree.

Mr. McFarlane stated the sidewalk is a condition, along with the upgrading of signage, that he would like to add and noted the petitioner has done a good job with the landscape plan.

Ms. Salmons stated her concerns are the project period, such as traffic around the ring road and parking.

Mr. Friedman responded the parking is more than required by the Village PUD. He stated it will be a 7,000 sq. ft. building with 35 parking spaces which is 5 spaces per 1,000 feet. He stated his tenants are not restaurant tenants which will have basic traffic all day long. He stated the entire development was designed to take outlots such as this. He noted there would be an increase in traffic but doesn’t think it would be that substantial. He did state it is a busy ring road which is busy most of the time. He stated on the site they have done a good job on how to handle the traffic.

Ms. Salmons asked how many entrances there would be for the site.

Mr. Friedman responded there is (1) one entrance and (1) one exit.

Chairman Sula stated there seems to be no concern of 5 spaces per 1,000 sq. ft. of space is less than adequate.

Chairman Sula asked for any other questions from the Commission.

Mr. Nordentoft asked for a temperature read from the other Commissioners regarding their feelings on the sidewalk issue. He stated both he and Mr. McFarlane expressed their opinions on the subject and this could be added to the motion.

Chairman Sula responded there was good discussion on the sidewalk issue and noted that the developer appears willing to work with the Commission on the issue.

Chairman Sula asked for a motion.

Mr. Nordentoft moved to forward a favorable recommendation, seconded by Mr. McFarlane, for the Final PUD Plat for Net3 Real Estate LLC for the property located at 6631 Grand Avenue, subject to the following conditions:  

1.    In addition to what is requested, that a sidewalk be engineered and planned into the Plan to connect their site to the Grand Avenue sidewalk, noting the testimony given by the Petitioner and the discussion by the Commission with ideas of what the Commission envisions for the property and the petitioner’s willingness to consider this and come forward with a plan while working with Planning & Zoning Staff and the Engineering Department to appropriately locate the sidewalk;  and

2.    That the Commission move forward to submit the rest of the Plan with the signage package with the additional caveat that no box sign be used in the monument signage and that an upgraded sign with individually mounted letters, similar to the signage that would be the minimum requirement for the building.

Roll Call
Ayes:        Sula, Nordentoft, McFarlane, Salmons, Drennan
Nays:        None
Abstain:    None
Motion Carried:    5-0-0

Chairman Sula asked a motion to adjourn.

Ms. Salmons made a motion, seconded by Mr. Nordentoft, to adjourn.

The Meeting was adjourned at 7:59 P.M.

Respectfully Submitted:

Joanne Havenhill
Plan Commission Secretary

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