Village of La Grange Plan Commission met April 9
Village of La Grange Plan Commission met April 9.
Here is the minutes provided by the commission:
I. CALL TO ORDER AND ROLL CALL OF THE PLAN COMMISSION
Chairman Kardatzke called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.
Upon roll call the following were:
Present: Egan, Paice, Wentink, Schwartz, Hoffenberg, Weyrauch, Kardatzke Absent: Hoffenberg
Community Development Director Charity Jones, Village Planner Heather Valone, Village Attorney Mark Burkland and Village Trustee Lou Gale were also present.
II. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – MARCH 12, 2019
Commissioner Wentink made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Paice to approve the minutes from March 12, 2019 with the following changes:
1. Page 3, first paragraph, change “level of traffic” to “level of service”.
2. Page 8, first full paragraph, second line has “restrictions” change to “inspections”.
A voice vote was taken:
III. PUBLIC HEARINGS
PC CASE #247 – A TEXT AMENDMENT TO REDUCE THE MINIMUM REQUIRED LOT ARE PER UNIT FOR PLANNED DEVELOPMENTS IN THE MULTIPLE FAMILY DISTRICTS, AN AMENDMENT TO THE ZONING MAP, A SPECIAL USE FOR A PLANNED DEVELOPMENT, A FINAL PLANNED DEVELOPMENT, AND SITE PLAN APPROVAL FOR 50 CONDOMINIUM UNITS, LA GRANGE CONDOMINIUMS, DTLG INVESTMENT, LLC
Chairman Kardatzke asked anyone that plans on speaking in regards to this public hearing to raise his/her right hand. He then administered the oath. He then called for a motion to open the public hearing.
Commissioner Weyrauch made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Paice to open the public hearing for Case #247. A voice vote was taken:
Chairman Kardatzke asked staff to make their presentation.
Charity Jones, Community Development Director, said the application is for a five story, 50-unit condominium building with request to rezone the property from C-1 to R-8, a text amendment related to minimum lot area per unit for Planned Development in R-8 District, a special use for a planned development, planned development, and Site Plan Approval. The Plan Commission previously conducted public hearings on this application on January 8th and February 12th of this year. The applicant presented their application materials to the Village Board on April 8th. The Village Board has referred this application back to the Plan Commission because several changes have been made to the plan since the February public hearing.
Since the previous public hearing the changes that were made fall into three categories. Those categories are placement of the building, related changes along the south property line, and the building materials. She showed the site plan that was presented in February and then the current site plan. Related to the south property line, in February, the garage level which is primarily under grade was proposed to be at the south property line. The upper stories were proposed to be approximately 10 feet back from the property line. The revised plans and the garage level have been reduced in size. No parking spaces were eliminated, but rather the storage areas were eliminated to reduce the garage level. The garage level is approximately six and half feet from the south property line. The upper floors remain approximately 10 feet from the property line. Related to these garage level changes, previously the applicant had proposed terrace walls that were approximately five feet high on the property line. The revised plans have eliminated the terrace walls and instead there are planter walls that are approximately three and half feet tall situated six and half feet from the south property line.
Mrs. Jones stated other elevations at the south end of the building have also been changed. The stairwell was previously located at the south property line. There were balconies on floors three through five that were located approximately four feet from the property line and they were directly across from 11 S. 6th Avenue. Now the southwest stairwell has been recessed into the building. The locations of the balconies have also been modified. The balconies immediately across 11 6th Avenue have been recessed into the building. The far eastern balconies are now beyond the east wall of 11 6th Avenue.
On the eastside of the property towards 7th Avenue, the building including the garage level has always maintained six feet from the property line. The setback has not changed but the stairwell has. It was previously located at the property line and now it is recessed into the building. The applicant has made changes to building materials. Additional brick has been added. She showed on the overhead the proposed changes.
Mrs. Jones said in summary, through planned development the Village is able to provide flexibility in zoning regulations to achieve a more desirable environment then would be possible through strict application of the Zoning Code. The Village is also able to place conditions on planned developments to promote compatibility with surrounding properties and mitigate any adverse impacts of the development. In referring the application back to the Plan Commission the Village Board welcomes the Commission’s comments on the proposed development including the recent plan changes and whether such changes have addressed potential adverse impacts.
Chairman Kardatzke asked if any of the Commissioners had any questions for staff.
Commissioner Schwartz asked if the parking garage is below grade where it abuts against 11 6th Avenue.
Mrs. Jones stated it appears at the 6th Avenue western edge of the property it might extend 18 inches above grade. They are however, no longer at the property line but rather six and half feet from the property line.
Commissioner Egan asked if staff can explain how the parking relates to the floor area ratio (FAR) and how it affects the need for the text amendment.
Mrs. Jones said neither FAR nor lot area per unit nor building coverage is related to the proposed text amendment. The lot area per unit is not impacted by the garage below grade. The building coverage takes into account all portions of the building above, at or below grade. So the garage is being used for that calculation. FAR is a standard that is used in both the commercial districts, but is not present in the R-8 District. They have compared FAR in the past because other mixed use developments that are zoned C-1are subject to those FAR guidelines. The proposed text amendment is to reduce the minimum lot area per unit that is allowable in a planned development in the R-8 District. Lot area per unit is a measure of density and not of bulk so its related to how many units are in the building and how many units are in a building on a lot of a certain size. So theoretically, a development could meet building coverage but have a higher density then what would normally be allowed. They are related to one another but they are not one in the same. The number of units in a building could change while the exterior of the building could remain the same. The applicant had initially proposed just to allow a lower minimum lot area per unit in R-8 planned developments. They have amended that request and they have proposed to limit the text amendment to only buildings that include underground parking structures. Staff has suggested an alternative to consider a geographic boundary that is adjacent to BNSF corridor area. This area is addressed by the Comprehensive Plan as transient orientated area designated for higher density.
Commissioner Egan asked if the underground parking factored into the lot area per unit at all.
Mrs. Jones stated no.
Chairman Kardatzke asked with FAR, because it is a planned development with special use the Commission has the option to grant the petitioner relief.
Mrs. Jones said through the recommendations of the Plan Commission and the Village Board, modifications can be made to modify the regulations of the Zoning Code for planned developments which are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The reason why they are proposing a text amendment for the minimum lot area per unit is because that discretion is limited in the current code.
Chairman Kardatzke asked if there were any further questions for staff. None responded. He then asked the applicant to come up and make a presentation.
Phil Fornaro, Attorney, said he is representing the applicant. They have their design team present to answer any questions. He talked to many people at last night’s Village Board meeting and presented to the Commission and staff a list of signatures of people in favor of the development. He appreciates the opportunity to come back. This project is turning out nicely as it relates to community involvement, Plan Commission, Village Board, their team, and staff. They have listened to everything that was said and applied what they feel is appropriate. He would like to have Mr. Mulcrone to come up and address Commission Schwartz’s questions first.
Jeff Mulcrone, architect from BSB Design, stated the garage was previously along the property line. They eliminated the storage in the garage on half of the building and pushed the garage wall back six and half feet. There is now a natural green space of six and half feet from the property line and on the landscape plan they are now showing trees and shrubs. It will have a natural green space from 6th to half way through the building and then continue that six and half foot setback all the way to 7th.
Mr. Fornaro showed what the building looked like in October when they first started and what the drawing of the building looks like now. He wants to point out that the building size does not change at all. It is just the number of units. No matter how many units the building does not change in size.
He said they have moved the building back from the original structure. They are now at 10 feet in the southwest corner and up to nine feet at the northwest corner. He showed several before and after pictures. Their building is about ten feet from the property line and 11 6th Avenue is five feet from their property line so there is now a 15-foot gap. They also heard issues related to bulk and minimum lot area per unit (MLA). Bulk is the size of the building on the lot. They removed the annex and increased the setback on the 6th Avenue property line, so now they eliminated bulk. He then showed what type of building could be built on the site from property line to property line under the current C-1 zoning. He then asked Mr. Mulcrone to talk about what changes were made in regards to brick on the building.
Mr. Mulcrone stated in the southeast corner where the delivery and loading zone is there was a stair tower and that has been pulled back into the building. There is a full masonry tower on the southeast corner, southwest corner and also northeast corner. There is now masonry for the full height of the building on the corners and now all four corners have architectural elements. He showed several pictures on the overhead of the new architectural changes.
Mr. Fornaro said the other change is to the text amendment. What he heard from the Plan Commission was things related to precedence. They had asked if they could limit this to buildings that are infill that have underground parking and within the BNSF corridor. This will limit it to a certain number of sites and eliminate precedence.
Commissioner Hoffenberg entered the meeting at 7:59 p.m.
Mr. Fornaro stated the stormwater improvements will improve stormwater by 1394%. The purpose of the planned development (PD) is critical. Within a PD the traditional use, bulk, space and yard regulation may be relaxed if they impose inappropriate limitations on the proposed development or redevelopment of a parcel plan that lends itself to an individual planned approach. This is an odd shape parcel with a neighboring building they have to construct around. If you apply those code sections that now exist to this particular site it will never work. A lot of towns are changing their code because a lot of downtown areas demand density and this is the way to do it by changing the code. From the Tracy Cross report and from an article from the March 10th edition of the Chicago Tribune, the middle housing ranging from $425,000 to $600,000 are people either downsizing or kids getting out of school looking to get a starter home.
The current site is roughly 37,000 square feet, based on the MLA, to achieve the 910 square feet he would have to add 8,500 square feet of parking outside. However, the applicant does not have any space for outside parking and does not want outside parking. Instead the applicant has a 26,400 square feet of underground parking which yields 83 parking spaces. The code favors outdoor parking. This is why the MLA is outdated especially for a development that meets off-street parking requirements. In order to get to the square footage they would have to eliminate three units. There are two units in the Annex, so if the applicant gets rid of the Annex and just make a lobby where the apartments are then he will get to the 787 sf. They are at maximum lot coverage of 82.8% and without the Annex they get to 79%. The Uptown development was at 90%.
Mr. Fornaro said if bulk is truly the issue then they could remove the Annex to eliminate that bulk. He has talked to several people in the community and he does not know why anyone would want to reduce the number of units. Eliminating the number of units only effects one group of people which is the businesses. If the building stays the same then the number of units is not what is bothering anybody. If it’s not the units then the MLA should not be part of the discussion. He has done zoning work for 22 years and has done work in several municipalities. This process is great and they have made changes to come up with this beautiful project. Several people like the look of the project and having more density in the downtown. They like the beautification to the area and the other uses and amenities. However, he has not experienced a project where every single person has some little concern that is different than the other person. He just wants to come to some type of consensus. He has also never had a project where every single person is happy. He is happy to answer any questions and hopes they can move this project forward.
Chairman Kardatzke asked if any of the Commissioners had questions for the applicant.
Commissioner Paice asked how is the building going to stay the same if the number of units would change.
Mr. Fornaro said if he reduces the number of units from 50 to 40 and increase the size of 40 units then the MLA is not a factor in the decision. However, they would have to price those units out at $1,000,000. They made a business decision to not be in that market because it is very hard to sell million dollar condos and the market does not support it.
Vince Mancini, Attorney for Fornaro Law, said the acquisition of this property, the designs, and the underground parking is very expensive. If this is going to be built at this location as an infill multi-family there is a fixed cost that requires more units. It was stated to them that they cannot have street parking and they accommodated this issue. There are different materials being used and natural substances which are not cheap to use. There has to be a certain number of units to justify the financing, sales, building and acquisition. It does not matter the number of units; they would still have to dig a hole to put the parking in.
Mr. Mulcrone stated regardless of the number of units above ground, the basement level doesn’t change. There will be two elevators, multiple stairwells, trash and delivery. There needs to be a balance of the number of units that will meet the market and cost.
Mr. Mancini said this is a confined lot and there are restrictions such as so many feet between the front door and a window to be commercial acceptable. There has to be so much distance in the halls, so you cannot squeeze the walls anymore. He apologizes for not explaining this better in the previous meetings.
Commissioner Hoffenberg asked what is the length of the building on the south façade.
Mr. Mulcrone stated it is 301 feet.
Commissioner Hoffenberg asked if the length is 300 as opposed to 275 feet how could there be an absolute fixed cost when you are using fewer materials. If you reduce the number of units from 50 to 46 why would you have the same number of parking spaces and the same fixed cost.
Mr. Mulcrone said there is a fixed cost for the garage, elevators, stairs, lobby and the amenities.
Mr. Mancini stated the cost difference is minimal because you still need a crane out there to dig the hole and engineers out there to shore up the land. You are still doing all of the work but just removing less dirt for the garage. What happens when you remove that less dirt is you lose less revenue off the stream because you cannot build another unit to cover the cost that you have fixed. It’s a balancing act of cost versus potential revenue from the sales. The cost difference from changing it from 300 feet to 275 feet is significant because all of the same work still needs to get done.
Commissioner Hoffenberg said he understands but there are plenty of builders building six unit buildings. If there is a fixed cost to build it out of the ground, how do they make it work compared to 50 units.
Mr. Fornaro asked why are they wanting to shrink the building.
Commissioner Hoffenberg stated the overwhelming comment he hears is that the building is very large. This includes the Uptown project and the Ashland project. He is not as concerned about the parking. He wants to know if there is a way to shrink the building and still make this work for them.
Mr. Fornaro said to be even with 11 6th they would lose 1,800 square feet of bulk. If he gets rid of the Annex they would lose 8,500 to 9,000 square feet. If they are talking about the look, size, the bulk, and the density then they would be better off getting rid of the Annex.
Chairman Kardatzke stated there are other Commissioners and public that would like to speak. He asked if there were any Commissioners that wanted to ask any further questions. None responded. He then asked if there was anyone in the audience that wanted to ask questions or make comments in regards this public hearing.
Matthew Kline, Attorney for 11 6th Avenue, asked if they were taking the Annex off or keeping it on as part of the discussion.
Mr. Fornaro said they are leaving that up to the Commission.
Mr. Kline stated at the Village Board meeting there were people who liked the Annex and it was the least objectionable part of the building for his clients. He asked if they thought about increasing the Annex to get their unit count there, so they can move the building further away from 11 6th Avenue.
Mr. Mulcrone said it could not be done because of the drive aisle with the parking.
Mr. Kline asked if they thought about widening the Annex and having a “T” parking lot.
Mr. Mulcrone stated the plaza is being used for the stormwater management so anything they do that reduces the plaza area is detrimental to the stormwater for the site.
Mr. Mancini said they cannot access off of Burlington at that location because it is not below grade.
Mike Jones, Cemcon, stated they have analyzed the turning movements and the site is too small to move the drive isle.
Discussion continued in regards to changing the parking.
Jane Wirengard, 11 6th Ave., said she has owned her place since December 1995. Where she lives the condos are self-owned, governed and managed. Her and her neighbors are not objecting to a condo or development next to them. Their objection is that the proposed condo development is too big for the parcel. The developer understands that it would not be possible to build the proposed complex on this parcel without getting approval for zoning variances. Even with the proposed changes that were presented at the Village Board meeting, the request for zoning variances is what is objectionable. The proposed changes make the development more palatable. It is more in keeping with the present zoning laws, at the same time the zoning requests are still significant. What is more alarming is that the developer asking that the requested zoning variances be a text amendment change to the zoning laws that are in place. She would like to respond to a comment that was made by a Village Trustee last night. The Trustee suggested that those at 11 6th will be pleased once the development was built. He explained that the sounds from the train tracks will be lessened. She likes the sounds of the trains and does not like the sounds of partying. She is concerned about the development having this club room which will be a gathering place for nightlife activity.
Ms. Wirengard stated to address the issue of money and budget, La Grange has already approved several large developments within the past few years. These developments generate a lot of tax dollars for La Grange. This proposal would also generate a lot of tax money for La Grange. She understands that it is important that the Village generates enough income to balance its budget. At the February 12th meeting the developer spoke of the need for more foot traffic to help support the businesses in La Grange. There have been businesses that have come and gone in recent years, but there are also businesses in La Grange that attract quite a bit of business and some have been in business for years. These businesses are supported by residents as well as non-residents. Again, this property will generate a lot of property taxes but at what expense to the community. When density increases the demand for infrastructure goes up and property values go down. This project as presented is too dense for the land that is being considered. She proposes that the project be revised without the need for zoning variances. La Grange will still get their tax dollars without compromising the Village’s significant positives that make it a desirable and attractive place for individuals and families to call home.
Jeremy Justus, 11 6th Ave., said he appreciates some of the concessions that the developer has made but feels that they are at a midpoint. His condo is on the east side of the building, so his north facing windows will be facing a wall. He appreciates what the developer has done above ground on the south end and he likes the planters. Overall, he feels that the development has not gone down enough though. All the residents are concerned about that parking garage and how close it is. The builder is asking for quite a bit in regards to the maximum building coverage and lot coverage which sets a bad precedence. He understands the argument about the BNSF corridor to a certain degree but how far do you go. You don’t want a bunch of big buildings but rather a good mix. The Commission and Village Board have a tough job trying to find that right mix. This building as proposed is too dense. Lastly, whatever does develop he hopes that they will continue that historical marker.
Janessa Olney, 11 6th Ave., stated she bought her unit as a starter home. She continues to have concerns regarding the density of the proposed building. She asks that there be a reduction in the number of units and the number of stories. This building will dominate the surrounding area. The developer is heading in the right direction by putting the building back further from their property line. There may be 15 feet between the buildings at the ground level, but there still will be only seven feet between their building and the proposed underground garage with over dig. This could be detrimental to their 100 year old building foundation. She asks that the Commission be consistent with the variances being allowed as precedence is being set. They need to take into consideration that the development is going into a neighborhood with neighbors next door and down the street. This should not be compared to Uptown which is not in a residential area.
Mary McDonald, 11 6th Ave., said she felt like after the January meeting her and her neighbors were disregarded. She pays tax dollars, she eats in the restaurants and tries to shop as much as possible in La Grange. She feels that their voices are being heard more and more. She feels that the use is a good fit for the property, however it is just too big. The foundation on their building is over 100 years old and the building is fragile. She is worried about excavation and vibration caused by the violence of demolition. The north side of the building houses the only ingress/egress into the mechanicals room. If any type of over dig happens there they would not be able to use that room. She might be a little more in favor if she knew what was going to happen and how they will be protected. If the zoning code needs to be changed then it should be done all at once and not by piece meal. She asked for clarification on the fee for land option that was mentioned at last night’s meeting.
Mrs. Jones stated the subdivision code has a requirement that there be equivalent to one acre of land be dedicated to public land for every 75 new dwellings or lots. With the recent Mason Pointe development because the requirement would have been less than an acre the Village took a cash fee in lieu of a land dedication.
Ms. McDonald said she is putting her trust in the Village Officials to oversee that the rules are followed. She asked if the parking garage could be moved in so it is under the first floor.
Mr. Kline passed out pictures of other developments that were built in La Grange over the past three years. Each of these developments have substantial setbacks to sides that are abutting other properties. The setbacks are there to protect the neighboring properties. It is not an automatic right that they get to go to the 910 square feet per unit. This is left up to the discretion of the Commission and Village Board to find a project that does not negatively impact surrounding property owners and have a beneficial attribute to the Village. The south wall is the biggest concern for his clients. The plans are well designed but they could do better. The overage of the tandem spaces on the south wall could be put on the north side. The building can be moved slightly. They can do these changes without effecting the economics of their future development. The Village’s goal is to provide something that is best for the Village without negatively impacting the neighbors. Again the Village has approved large buildings and they all had setbacks around the perimeter.
Mr. Kline stated there are many ways density is calculated and this ordinance has a square footage of land for each unit. There are setbacks for each of the streets and perimeter, there is a height limitation and a parking requirement per unit. He does not feel the tandem spaces is going to be a benefit for the building. Since this building will have 2 to 3 bedrooms most likely they will have 2 cars related to them. The 1.5 parking spaces that is required was based on buildings that have a variety of one, two and three bedrooms. This is at the end of the large spectrum so there is a much greater chance of having several vehicles. He does not feel that tandem parking is in the Village’s best interest. As far as being restricted by engineering of stormwater, there are several different ways to provide stormwater. Some might be expensive but there are other ways. Again, he feels there are ways to redesign the building to have less impact on the neighbors.
Patti Ernst, 425 S. Kensington, said her and her husband rehab homes. When they buy a house they understand that there are rules that they have to follow. They have to submit a plan that meets the rules. She asked why would you purchase the property and not know what you are up against. The development is too big and the density does not only hurt the people right next to it but rather effects everyone. She does not want La Grange to turn into Oak Park or Downers Grove.
Matt Larson stated he is supportive of the project. The existing structure that is there is not the best use of the property. He does not see the need to pay homage to the existing building. He does not see the problem with parking. This is a transit community and hopefully the people that are moving there are planning on using public transportation. If they are going to be granting variances it should be for the parking and the one and a half number could be relaxed in his mind. He does feel that the building is too big for the size of the property and its surroundings. It would be nice to see the building height the same as the other buildings in close proximity or next to it. He thinks if they were going to stick to anything it should be the setbacks to the existing lots and this should include the balconies. If they scale back on the plaza and water retention this could be met. He does like the architectural features the building has to offer.
Mr. Larson said construction will be intense for several years and he recommends that a group of local residents be involved in some type of panel during construction so they have a say in what is going on. If there is a cash contribution he would like to see that money be used in the immediate area. There is a lot of cut through traffic on 6th, 7th, and Bluff and maybe that money could be used to slow down the traffic. He does feel that this development is the perfect type for this area. This is a transit area and this is a dense development, so this is what they should be building. It will help the business district and improve transit. In summary, he hopes this project moves forward at a smaller scale and with no variances on the setbacks.
Chairman Kardatzke asked if there were any further questions or comments from the audience. None responded. He then asked if any of the Commissioners had any follow-up questions for the applicant.
Commissioner Schwartz stated he was not at the Village Board meeting last night. When they last considered this matter, one of the concerns he heard from one of the Commissioners was that if the Commission were to approve it given the building coverage, the Village Board would reject it. He asked if any of the Trustees stated last night that this would not be allowed due to building coverage issues.
Mrs. Jones said she did not hear any comments last night that would lead her to believe that the Village Board would dismiss the application immediately upon the issue of being over the building coverage.
Commissioner Hoffenberg stated he appreciates the work the developer has done with this project. He has said several times that he loves the look of the project. He is just trying to address every option to help with concerns. He asked if there was any discussion about potentially building the building a little higher to shrink it inward to address the concerns of the setbacks.
Mr. Mancini said if you get higher then you enter into a new building code which has different standards and it would increase the costs substantially.
Commissioner Schwartz asked if they talk about the setbacks and were they are at now.
Mr. Mulcrone showed an existing areal shot of the area. The proposed building will be six inches off the Becknell building to the south and to the west. They kept the building back on Burlington because of sight concerns and it is also where they were planning on improving the sidewalk. If they try to move the building north then it makes the sight lines worse for the residents in the area. He showed the other setbacks on the aerial view. For first floor level, the knee wall is six and half feet to the property line of 11 6th. The building at 11 6th is five feet off the property line. At the C-1 zoning someone could build right up to the property line with a 45 foot tall wall.
Commissioner Weyrauch stated the underground garage is the encumbrance to their success. She does not see why it does not match the upper part of the building. She feels that would make it less expensive. She also does not understand why it can’t be pushed back and line up with the building next door. She is willing to give up parking spaces.
Mr. Mulcrone said in order for him to stack the building he would lose the back row of parking which is about 17 spaces. If he does that then they do not have enough parking.
Commissioner Weyrauch stated she feels the parking is just an extra amenity.
Mr. Mulcrone said it is all underground so there is no impact on the neighboring properties during construction.
Chairman Kardatzke asked if there were any further questions or comments from the Commission for the applicant. None responded. He asked if the applicant had any final testimony to present. The applicant stated no. He then called for a motion to close the public hearing.
Commissioner Paice made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Egan to close the public hearing for Case #247. A voice vote was taken:
Plan Commission Discussion
Chairman Kardatzke stated a planned development gives them the options of giving the applicant relief from many of the things that were discussed. In certain cases they have given other projects greater relief than what they are asking for and with some projects they have given lesser relief. This is something to keep in mind. This project meets goals of the Comprehensive Plan for the BNSF corridor. Instead of getting tied up on the little things you need to look at the whole project. You will not please all the neighbors and you have to look at how this will improve the Village. He asked the Commission how they feel about the project.
Commissioner Wentink said he likes the concept for the use of the property and the design in general. He has been involved with a lot of the sited projects that were mentioned earlier. They have to work within the existing framework of the code and then deal with any changes that they would like to recommend as part of the Planned Development. This project is caught between the lot area per unit versus building coverage and the issue of bulk and aesthetics. He wonders if there is a way to address the proposed text amendment as opposed to being with such efficacy to 740 or some other number. He wonders if there is a way to grant some consideration for underground parking as a coverage adjustment or lot area adjustment which would then avoid the issue of whether the number is absolute or not. If they recognize that parking in many instances is a very popular topic for any development, as well as traffic, they might want to consider that as a possibility. Unfortunately, he has not come up with a solution or formula for this.
Commissioner Schwartz stated he is very sympathetic to the residents at 11 6th Avenue. However, this is an area that is located on the BNSF corridor and the Comprehensive Plan does reflect some of that. It makes sense to consider if they make an amendment to limited it to R-8 within the BNSF corridor. He wonders if they can add “for an R-8 area that was previously located within a C-1 zoned area”. It then gives to the type of building that was already contemplated at the parcel. This developer is putting in the time to improve sight line, address underground parking and a courtyard. If they could narrow the code amendment to reflect this unique parcel then that would limit any ability to claim precedence.
Commissioner Weyrauch said they are struggling with how this text amendment could get written to limit the future impact on the rest of development in La Grange. She really likes the appearance of the project and the architectural features. She agrees with Commissioner Schwartz in regards to the BNSF corridor and maybe limiting it to multi-family buildings of a certain overall square footage. They might have to turn it over to the Village Attorney or staff to create some type of limitation.
Commissioner Egan stated she agrees with all the comments and feels R-8 is appropriate for this site. She likes the look of the building. Her hesitancy has been with the size of the building. She has received feedback from the community that other past developments have been too big or massive. When you look at the building percentage coverage you are creating the same perception to the community of a massive building which is more than previous developments. She knows that they have put a ton of effort into this but she wishes there was a way to scale it back especially on the south property line.
Commissioner Paice said like any resident of La Grange he likes to walk the town. If you start at Cossitt and go north you will notice it is dense. The buildings start at the sidewalk and go up. The Village Hall at least has a courtyard. If you turn down Burlington and go left it is the same thing where the buildings are going straight up from the sidewalk. If you right down Burlington most of the buildings start at the sidewalk and then you come to this proposed structure. He feels this structure deserves to be dense and it is part of the city. It will work well with La Grange and they also have a plaza. As far as density he is all for the way it is. The only thing he would offer as a suggestion, it is expensive, is to buy the property to the south and turn it into green space. It would give them about 6,000 to 7,000 feet of open space. It might put their project within numbers or viewed favorably.
Commissioner Hoffenberg stated that he agrees with that idea. He loves the look of the building and feels that the Annex should stay. By losing the Annex you would lose a lot of the character of the building. His biggest concern is the footprint on 6th extending further out than the neighbor to the south. If that was pushed in and the building was matched setback wise to the condos immediately to the south he would be all for the project. He is less concerned about the parking and feels the garage works with the way it is configured. He would be more than willing to talk about less parking. He is happy with the reduction between the two buildings, the moving of the balconies and shifting them to the side, and the reduction of the exterior staircase.
Chairman Kardatzke said this fits right in with the Comprehensive Plan and he has liked this project from the start. He feels it fits in with Uptown and 40 S. Ashland. He feels you have to look at the whole plan and how it will fit. They have moved the wall back on 6th like the Commission asked and he feels they have made several changes. As far as he is concerned, he feels that this is a good project. He then read staff’s recommendation for approval or denial and staff’s conditions which were part of Attachment 2, listed on page 6 and 7 of staff’s report. He then called for a motion for recommendation.
Commissioner Schwartz stated he would want the recommendation in accordance with the revised plans that were presented tonight. This would include the north Annex to be included. He would also like the R-8 designation to only be in the BNSF corridor.
Mark Burkland, Village Attorney, said he will be working with staff on the language for the text amendment that provides for further modification.
Plan Commission Recommendation
Commissioner Paice made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Schwartz to recommend to the President and Board of Trustees approval of Case #247, an amendment to Article IV, Section 4-110 of the Zoning Code to reduce the minimum required lot area per unit from 910 square feet to 740 square feet for a Planned Development in the R-8 Zoning District, amendment to the Zoning Map from C-1 Central Commercial to R-8 Multiple Family Residential District, a Planned Development, a Special Use Permit and Site Plan Approval with staff’s conditions listed in Attachment 2, on pages 6 and 7 in staff’s report and the following conditions:
1. To include the revised plans that were presented tonight which would include the north Annex to be included.
2. To have the text amendment to include the R-8 designation to only be in the BNSF corridor.
A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Paice, Schwartz, Kardatzke
Nays: Egan, Wentink, Hoffenberg, Weyrauch,
IV. GENERAL DISCUSSION
V. PUBLIC COMMENTS
Commissioner Weyrauch made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Egan to adjourn the meeting at 9:55 p.m. A voice vote was taken: