The 7428 Franklin St. townhome site plan was approved by the village council at the Aug. 24 meeting. This follows an Aug. 3 Plan Commission meeting, during which Chair Paul Barbahen and board members Marcia East and Diane Brown voted unanimously in favor of the project.
At the Aug. 3 meeting, architect John Schiess reduced the height of the buildings in the submitted plans, pre-emptively cutting 14 feet off the top and removing the peak in order to bring the height down to 36 feet. Although the originally submitted plans were for a 49.5-foot height, already below the allowable 60 feet in the R3 district, the reduction was done as a concession to Thomas Kovac, who lives next door to the proposed townhomes and has been a vocal opponent of the project.
At the village council meeting, Director of Public Health and Safety Steve Glinke said the change in building height and the color scheme were the two things that changed from the originally submitted plans.
“Frankly, staff agrees [the reduction in building height] is in keeping with the predominant building height in that neighborhood and significantly attempts to counter any claims that there will be loss of ambient sunlight,” Glinke said. “I think that was a pretty acceptable counter-proposal.”
The new color scheme was submitted to the village council in the packets received and posted online.
Commissioner Joe Byrnes, who attended the Aug. 3 Plan Commission meeting, said he thought the counter-proposal in regard to height “dropped it down significantly to allow more sunshine and air.”
Commissioner Jessica Voogd raised a concern about increased water runoff due to the new buildings. The plan, she mentioned, says “adequate provisions are being made to prevent flooding issues,” but she wanted to know what, specifically, those provisions are since a lot more of the ground will be covered.
“As part of the permit process,” said Glinke, “a complete set of engineering drawings to show onsite storm management are submitted by the petitioner, are vetted by the village engineer, and ultimately are in accordance with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) guidelines for onsite stormwater.” He mentioned another village project that “went through half a dozen submittals to Christopher Burke Engineering,” the village’s contracted engineering firm, before it received final approval.
“That kind of tough vetting is what this development is going to receive,” Glinke said.
Schiess said storm management is an important part of developing the project.
“We have a civil engineering consultant who will propose a plan consistent with storm water management best practices. It will be reviewed by the village consultant, and only after it is approved will we get a permit,” Schiess said. That part of the process, he said, is “post approval, pre-construction.”
Kovak, however, who submitted a letter read during public comment, is not satisfied and still opposes the project, even with the reduced roof height. In a letter he sent to the council members, he stated that, “The use and enjoyment of my side porch, side and rear yards would be greatly harmed by having to confront a 36-foot wall just a few feet away.” He added that at night his porch and yards would be impacted by lighting from the upper floor windows.
He faulted the site plan for what he called “a deliberate material omission” in failing to show the “single family home” at 7405 Dixon and the impact on it by “an existing nonconforming large four-story apartment building at 7411-13 (constructed in 1969).” Seeing the two side by side, said Kovak, would have given the Plan Commission a clearer idea of the impact a large structure would have on a smaller one.
“This omission of the 7405 property is clearly an attempt to conceal the harmful impact of a tall building adjacent to a low-rise residence,” said Kovak in his letter to the council. “This omission is willful and deliberate and indicates that the developer and the architect are fully aware of the harmful impact of this kind of situation.”
The single-family home at 7405 Dixon, however, is actually a three-flat, according to the village.
And the proposed townhouse project, despite Kovak’s objections, meets all requirements of the R3 district. Additionally, the developer is not asking for any variances or relief.
With the exception of Commissioner Dan Novak, the village board voted to approve the site plan. Novak did not comment during the meeting about his “no” vote, nor did he respond to the Review with the reasoning behind his vote.
With final village approval of the site plan, the permitting process now begins. According to Glinke, this should take about 4-6 weeks.