Minutes of the Regular Meeting of the Gurnee Planning and Zoning Board - September 5, 2012

Village of Gurnee

Planning and Zoning Board Minutes

September 5, 2012


1.  Call to Order and Roll Call

The meeting was called to order at 7:32 p.m.

Planning and Zoning Board Members present:   Chairman Jim Sula, Richard McFarlane, Richard Twitchell, Sharon Salmons, Edwin Paff & Gwen Broughton

Planning and Zoning Board Members absent:     David Nordentoft *

Other Officials present:   Tracy Velkover, Planning Manager; Molly Booth, Associate Planner; Bryan Winter, Village Attorney

2.  Pledge of Allegiance

* Chairman Sula acknowledged the arrival of Mr. Nordentoft at 7:35 p.m.

3.  Public Comment

Chairman Sula asked if anyone from the public had any questions or comments for anything that is not on this evening’s agenda.   Judy Macrowski asked if this was the time to address the Board regarding the item on the agenda for the proprietor’s residence.   Chairman Sula stated that any comments regarding this matter should wait until the item is presented.  He noted that he would open the floor to the public at that time.

As there were no more public comments, Chairman Sula closed the floor to the public.

4.  Approval of Planning and Zoning Board Meeting Minutes for August 15, 2012

Mr. McFarlane motioned, seconded by Ms. Broughton, to approve the August 15, 2012 meeting minutes.

Voice Vote: 

All “Ayes”

Motion carried:  7-0-0

5.  Public Hearing:  Special Use Permit for Kimbar, Inc.

Ms. Booth stated Kimbar, Inc. (represented by Larry May) is requesting a special use permit to allow a residence of a caretaker/watchman in Unit 159-3 of an existing office building located at 159 N. Greenleaf Street.  The subject property is zoned C-O1, Restricted Office District.

The Petitioner, Mr. May, opened the discussion by asking about the process.  After some guidance by Chairman Sula, he began: 

He stated that his original intent for the property (when he acquired it in 2004) was for “Over 55” condos but instead chose to build office condos.  He had asked for a special use permit in 2006 (for a residence of a proprietor) in order to live in an apartment onsite but family concerns lead to the abandonment of his plans for a residential use of property.  He has an office in the 163 building, and—at this time--is asking for an unfinished attic to be allowed for dedication as a residence for a caretaker/watchman to shovel snow, mow lawns, etc.  He feels no harm will come from this residential use of the property—either to other tenants on the campus or nearby residents--and that the village will benefit from the increase in taxes.  He stated that he has heard of no objections, and that he is simply trying to make practical use of property.  He is an owner of record of eighty-eight percent of the suites on the property.

Chairman Sula then opened the issue for deliberations among board members.

Mr. Paff asked if the tenant of the residence would pay rent.  Mr. May responded that he/she would pay rent, and--would be compensated by the condo association (of which he is a member). 

Mr. Nordentoft asked what would happen if the hired caretaker/watchman would not want to live on-site.  Mr. May responded by clarifying that occupying the apartment would be a condition of the caretaker/watchman’s employment, but that the apartment was not part of his/her compensation.  Mr. Nordentoft then asked if there would be a separate complex manager apart from the caretaker/watchman hired, and Mr. May responded that this person would not serve in any capacity in regards to rentals, etc. as individual owners are responsible for the sale/lease of their own units.  After being asked by Mr. Nordentoft if his own primary residence was off the property, Mr. May responded that it is.     

Chairman Sula then confirmed with Mr. May that this residence would only be occupied by the hired caretaker/watchman or be vacant. 

Mr. Twitchell asked if it was correct that no exterior modifications would need to be made to the property, but that the interior would need to be finished off; this was confirmed by Mr. May.  Mr. Twitchell also asked if there were any particular concerns over the security of the property, and was told by Mr. May that there was not—but, that the presence of a caretaker/watchmen would enhance security. 

Chairman Sula opened the floor to the public.

Ms. Sue Oldenburg, 3501 Ellis Avenue, stated that she is the owner of two-thirds of the first floor of the 159 Greenleaf building.  She noted that the condo already has someone coming in to do some of this work (landscaping/snow plowing) and questioned how the hiring of another person would impact the owners’ cost.  She stated that she is a CPA and has been self employed for over 22 years.  She expressed concern with having clients coming to her office--often during the weekends or later in the evening (during tax season)—and, what liabilities she may face if, for instance, a dog (such as a pet) was to bite someone.  She also stated that the owners of Tri-State Realty have told her that the introduction of residential into a non-residential development will devalue properties in the area.  After expressing concerns over such things associated with residential property—such as noise from loud television sets, children playing in the parking lots, and the possible clutter of toys being left in the area--she stated that a professional and commercial office space is not a place to have people living.

After stating that she had some questions for Mr. May, she was told by Chairman Sula that she had to address the board with her concerns.  He also made it clear to her that the board could only address issues that are directly related to zoning.   

Judy Macrowski, 246 N. Greenleaf Street, asked if security was a particular issue at/near the property in question, and—if so—should residents are alerted?  She also asked if the special permit were to be approved, would it be the first step in approving all these units for use as residential properties.  She also questioned why—with all the cost-effective technology available—was the creation of a residence even necessary to ensure security.  After making reference to Mr. May’s relations with neighbors since erection of the office buildings, she announced that she and her family are opposed to the conversion of office space into a residence.

Beth Johnson, 283 Jennifer Court, said she wanted to echo the concerns noted by the previous speakers.  She questioned whether or not there is a security issue in the area.  She expressed concern over the hiring of this caretaker/watchman and whether appropriate background checks would be completed in doing so.  She also expressed concerns about noise and lights, and stated that—due to the “nine to five” operations of the office complex—this had not been a concern of hers, but may now be.  

Chairman Sula then closed the discussion to the public, and asked Ms. Booth and Ms. Velkover to bring forth questions that had been raised in regards to this matter (specifically related to the issue of zoning).

Ms. Booth stated that it has been asked if the use of other such residences have been allowed in other office parks, and—stated that there is such a residence in a self-storage facility on Route 41. 

Ms. Velkover stated that, over the years, some such residential use had been allowed in hotel properties. 

Chairman Sula then asked Ms. Velkover if it would be acceptaqble--per the rules/ordinances written--to allow such residential use on the property currently being considered.  Ms. Velkover indicated that it would be. 

Village Attorney Bryan Winter also noted that it is on record that a special use permit for such  residential use has been previously approved for the property in question. 

Ms. Booth then stated that another inquiry brought up was whether or not the approval of this residence could lead to the approval of other such residences on the property.  She stated that if approval of another such residence was requested, there would have to be yet another special use permit granted and, that numerous requests for such residential use could be subject to different zoning ordinances. 

Chairman Sula noted precedent was set when the approval had been previously granted for residential use on the property, but also clarified that there would be limits to the spread of other such residential use on the same property due to its size, and--it being unlikely that a case could be made for the need of any more such use. 

Though he had previously closed the discussion to the public, Chairman Sula allowed Jeff Stahl, 281 Jennifer Court, to speak.  Mr. Stahl asked if it were true that—while it may be unlikely that any more residential use on the property would be allowed—it would not be impossible.  Chairman Sula conceded that, while there could be a request for such use in the future, what could only be addressed at the time is the request currently pending. 

Ms. Broughton asked if the use of the property as residential was requested for security purposes. 

Chairman Sula emphasized that there had to be a connection between the use of residence and the property itself, and—that the tenant of the residence would have to have some responsibilities to the property. 

Mr. McFarlane questioned what would happen if the condo association did not want presence of a caretaker/watchman in a residential capacity.  Chairman Sula stated that the hearing was only to decide on whether or not it can be allowed--should the option be considered.  Village Attorney Winter also stressed that it would be up to Administration to enforce the permit, if granted. 

Mr. Paff expressed concern over what, exactly, are the issues that need to be considered in granting the permit for special use in regards to the property under consideration.  Chairman Sula and Mr. McFarlane explained that consideration is due because the residence being considered would be in an office building, and—that matters such as  health/safety need to be addressed.  Chairman Sula, at this time, also confirmed with Ms. Velkover that such residential use was okay with the police and fire departments.    

Chairman Sula and Mr. Paff addressed such concerns by suggesting that background checks be used in the hiring process of the caretaker/watchman and that—due to the size of the space being considered for residence (around 1,000 square feet) there would not likely be a large family moving in.  Mr. Twitchell noted the narrow footprint of the structure, and Mr. May indicated that the size of the structure was due to ADA compliance.

Though the discussion had once again been closed to the public, Chairman Sula agreed to hear from

Dave Johnson, 283 Jennifer Court, who questioned whether there was a required footprint in the ordinance for a special use permit for this type of use.  He also asked if there are codes that limit the number of people that can occupy a unit based on the size of the unit, and how they had been applied in the past.  He was informed by Village Attorney Winter that there were such property management ordinances in place, and limits to how many occupants are allowed in properties.  Chairman Sula noted that examples of properties in which such residential use was allowed reflected prior approvals granted.

Mr. May asked if he should respond to speakers from the public discussion, and Chairman Sula informed him that it was not necessary.  He then stated that a motion was in order. 

Mr. Nordentoft made a motion, seconded by Mr. Twitchell, to forward a favorable recommendation to the Village Board on the request for a Special Use Permit to allow a residence of a caretaker/watchman in Unit 159-3 of an existing office building located at 159 N. Greenleaf Street.

Roll Call Vote:

“Ayes”:                     McFarlane, Twitchell, Salmons, Paff, Broughton, Nordentoft, & Sula

“Nays”:                     None

Abstain:                   None

Motion Carried:    7-0-0 

6.  Open Meetings Act Training Reminder

Chairman Sula reminded the Board to complete training with the Open Meetings Act.  He noted that time is running out as this training must be completed by the end of the year.   Any member who has not completed the training by then will not be able to sit on the Board.   He noted that this is a good group and would hate to have the membership change.   He stated that currently only three of the seven members have completed the training.   Ms. Velkover noted that she received notice just before the meeting started that one additional Board member has completed the training.  Mr. Nordentoft indicated that he too has completed the training.  Based on this, there are only two remaining members who have not completed the training.  Chairman Sula encouraged those members to do so before the next meeting and to bring in a copy of their certificates for staff.

7.  Next Meeting Date:  September 19, 2012

8.  Adjournment:

Chairman Sula asked for a motion to adjourn the meeting.  Ms. Broughton made a motion to adjourn the meeting, seconded by Mr. Nordentoft. 

Voice vote: 

All “Ayes”

Motion carried 7-0-0

The meeting was adjourned at 8:16 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

Joann Metzger
Secretary of the Planning and Zoning Board