Minutes of the Regular Meeting of the Gurnee Planning and Zoning Board - September 11, 2013


Village of Gurnee

Planning and Zoning Board Minutes

September 11, 2013


1.  Call to Order and Roll Call

The meeting was called to order at 7:30 p.m.

Planning & Zoning Board Members present:  Chairman James Sula, Richard McFarlane, David Nordentoft, Richard Twitchell, David Ohanian, Sharon Salmons & Edwin Paff

Planning & Zoning Board Members absent:  none

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

2.  Pledge of Allegiance

3.  Introduction of New PZB member

Mr. Sula took a moment to introduce Mr. David Ohanian as the newest PZB member.  He elaborated that Mr. Ohanian has been a resident of Gurnee for about 24 years, is married with two grown children, had served on the Village Board from 2007-2009, and has previously managed a large (1.2 million sq. ft.) commercial/retail/office complex. 

4.  Public Comment

Mr. Sula asked if anyone from the public had any questions or comments regarding anything not on the evening’s agenda.   As there were no responses, Chairman Sula closed the floor to the public on the matter.

5.  Approval of the Planning and Zoning Board’s August 21, 2013 meeting minutes.

A motion to approve the minutes was made by Mr. McFarlane, seconded by Mr. Paff.

Roll Call Vote:

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

“Nays”:                       None

Abstain:                      Ohanian

Motion Carried:           6-0-1

6.  Public Hearing:  Zoning Map Amendment (Gurnee School District 56)

Gurnee School District 56 is proposing a zoning map amendment (rezoning) of an approximately 3.9 acre parcel from C/O-1, Restricted Office District, to P, Public Land District. The subject parcel is located at the northwest corner of the Northwestern Avenue and Swanson Court intersection and directly south of 2010 Northwestern Avenue.  The subject property is noted as industrial/office research on the Village’s 1997 Comprehensive Land Use Plan.  In addition, the subject site is surrounded by the following zoning districts and land uses:


      North:       P, Public Land District (Village Water Tower)

      East:          R-2, Single Family Residence District (existing single family houses)

      West:        I-2, General Industrial District and I-3, Intensive Industrial District (existing           Hawthorn Industrial Center)

      South:        I-3, Intensive Industrial District (existing Hawthorn Industrial Center)


Ms. Booth then stated that Gurnee School District 56 is proposing a zoning map amendment (rezoning) of approximately a 3.9-acre parcel from C/O-1, Restricted Office District, to P, Public Land District.  She noted that the subject property is located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Northwestern Avenue and Swanson Court and more specifically, directly south of 2010 Northwestern Avenue (the parcel with the Village’s water tower).

Ms. Booth gave a brief history on the matter, noting that the subject parcel is part of the Hawthorn Industrial Center subdivision plat recorded in 1977.  At the time of the subdivision plat, the Hawthorn Industrial Center had zoning designations of GI, General Industrial (parcels generally west of Swanson Court) and LI, Limited Industrial (generally east of Swanson Court, including the subject parcel).  After the Gurnee Zoning Ordinance was updated in 1980, the LI zoning transitioned to I-2, General Industrial District, and the GI zoning transitioned to I-3, Intensive Industrial District.  In 1987, the Village-owned parcel (located at 2010 Northwestern Ave) directly north of the subject parcel was rezoned to P, Public Land District, to allow for construction of the Village Water Tower.  In 2002, the subject parcel was rezoned from I-2 to C/O-1 and a special use was approved for a child day care center (Little Bear Day Care).  The day care never pursued the development and the special use subsequently expired.  The C/O-1 zoning remained on the subject parcel.

Village Attorney, Mr. Winter, swore in those intending to speak or give testimony on the petition.

Mr. John Hutton, Superintendent of Schools for District 56, gave a brief summary of District 56's request, explaining that the District would like to purchase property south of the Village’s water tower for a Transportation Center to park school buses for District 56 and Warren Township High School.  He explained the need for this Transportation Center, as students do need to be transported to school; the buses need to be parked somewhere.  He stated that the property is located in what is predominately an industrial area.  He also stressed that the District intends to be a good neighbor to the residential area east of this property.  He noted that the school district is proposing to place a small office and vehicle parking lot on the Village’s lot to the north.  There will be a curb cut into this site from north Swanson Court, as far from the intersection as possible.

Mr. Ohanian asked Mr. Hutton to define what being a good neighbor means.

Mr. Hutton responded that the school district does not want to negatively impact the adjoining properties.   

Mr. Ohanian stated concern in regards to the potential for noise.  Mr. Paff added that this was a concern of his as well. 

Mr. Hutton explained that the District has hired an acoustic engineer to ensure that this facility is in compliance with the State and Village’s noise ordinance.

In regards to traffic, Mr. Hutton stated that the bus lot would accommodate 80 buses for School Districts 56 and 121.  Half of the buses would leave the site between 6:45 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. and the other half would leave about an hour later.  Buses would return to the site between 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.  He elaborated that, due to variance in the length of bus routes, departure/arrival times of the buses would be staggered; there would be about 10 to 15 buses departing or arriving at once.

Mr. Twitchell asked if there is any landscape buffering included as part of this development. 

Mr. Hutton responded that the plan provides the parking lot at a lower grade than Northwestern Avenue.  He added that, along with this grade change, landscaping would be provided to help hide the buses from view.  While that aspect is more cosmetic, Mr. Hutton explained that it is part of the plan to use the earth (i.e., grade change) as a way of buffering noise.

Mr. Twitchell and Mr. McFarlane expressed concern that this matter would not be coming back to the Board for site plan review.

Mr. Sula and Ms. Booth explained that as long as there is conformation to all underlying zoning ordinances (setbacks, buffering, etc.), there would be no requirement for it to come back to the Board.

Mr. McFarlane asked for more details about the berming/grade change from Northwestern to the bus parking lot. 

Mr. Kevin Carrier, with McClure Engineering, stated that the start of the parking lot (on the eastern side of the parcel) would be cut down approximately five feet lower than the existing grade.  He noted that there would be a six-foot-high board-on-board fence placed along the property line to create about 10-12 feet height buffer.  He noted that the land continues to drop in elevation to the west, with two to four feet pitch across the entire parking lot (from east to west).  One of the access points of the property will be off of Swanson; at that point, the grade will be cut down, with the driveway sloping further to connect towards the western end of the property (as far away from the intersection of Swanson and Northwestern as possible).  Plantings will be installed on the property in conformance with ordinances and under the guidance of planning staff.

Mr. Twitchell asked if there had been any soil analysis done to ensure there would be no issues with groundwater. 

Mr. Carrier responded that a thorough analysis has been done, and expressed confidence that there would be no such water issues.

Upon inquiry from Mr. Twitchell, Mr. Carrier also stated that there would be no driveway off of Northwestern, and that bus access would be off of Swanson.

Mr. Twitchell also asked about existing trees along the east side of the property.

Mr. Carrier responded that existing trees would likely remain, but that if any had to be removed due to grading, they would be replaced in compliance with ordinance.

Mr. Twitchell stated that he would not be asking some of these questions had site plan review been available. 

In acknowledging that such review is in fact not available, Mr. Sula stressed that much of this discussion is informational only as the issue before the PZB is whether the Public zoning is appropriate for this property, and not the specifics of the use on this property.  He noted that the use is permitted by right under the Public zoning district.   The zoning cannot be conditioned on what is being testified to in regards to the development plans.

Mr. Sula confirmed that the school district would become the owner of this property, if acquired. 

Mr. Sula then opened the discussion to members of the public.

Mr. Dan Aaron, of 1935 Northwestern Avenue, stated his concerns.  He asked about the location of the proposed driveway cut--specifically, whether or not there is going to be a curb cut onto Northwestern--as this would direct headlights of buses toward his home while leaving the lot.  He also expressed concern over noise from the back-up beepers used on school buses.  He questioned whether the buses would be fueled on the property or whether any fuel would be stored on the property.   Other concerns brought up by Mr. Aaron, as well as his wife, were the potential dust pollution from the use of gravel, if the lot isn’t paved, and flooding.   He stated that, at the present time, the view from his picture window is of a field.  He expressed concern over whether or not the view would be as aesthetically pleasing as the result of this project.  He also expressed concern over how this site may be used should the District eventually decide to vacate the site.    Specifically, he questioned whether another hearing would be held.

Mr. Sula then closed this matter to public discussion

In addressing concerns brought up by the public, Ms. Booth stated that any future use for the site, should the school district vacate, would have to be a use allowed under the Public zoning district.  Otherwise, either a rezoning or a special use would be needed, which would trigger a public hearing.

Mr. Hutton stated that buses would be fueled on another site, and no fuel tanks would be on the property.  In regards to signaling equipment used as buses are being driven in reverse, Mr. Hutton stated that such concerns were being addressed by the acoustic engineer that had been hired.  He reiterated that no curb cuts would be placed on Northwestern Avenue.  He noted that the lot would be paved, so there shouldn’t be any issued with dust.  In regards to aesthetics, as a result of the grade change, fencing, and landscaping, the facility should not be unattractive.

Mr. Carrier noted that the project would have to meet all required stormwater ordinances.

Mr. Sula then stated that a motion would be in order.   

Mr. Ohanian made a motion, seconded by Mr. Nordentoft, to forward a favorable recommendation to the Village Board on the requested rezoning petition.

Roll Call Vote:

“Ayes”:                         Paff, Nordentoft, McFarlane, Ohanian & Sula

“Nays”:                         Twitchell & Salmons

Abstain:                        None

Motion Carried:             5-2-0

7.  Next Meeting Date:  September 18, 2013

8.  Adjournment

Chairman Sula asked for a motion to adjourn the meeting. 

Mr. Nordentoft made a motion to adjourn the meeting, seconded by Mr. Ohanian.

Voice vote: 

All "Ayes", no "Nays", none abstaining

Motion carried:   7-0-0

The meeting was adjourned at 7:56 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

Joann Metzger
Planning and Zoning Board Secretary