Mayor Krajewski called the Workshop meeting of the Village Council of the Village of Downers Grove to order at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Village Hall.
Present:Mayor Brian Krajewski; Commissioners Sue McConnell, Martin Tully, Mark Zabloudil, Ron Sandack, Stan Urban; Village Manager Riccardo Ginex; Village Attorney Enza Petrarca; Village Clerk April Holden
Absent:Commissioner Marilyn Schnell
Visitors: Press: Kevin Stahr, Downers Grove Reporter; Kris Owens, Downers Grove Sun Residents: Jim Hughes, Maximus, 60 Revere Drive, Northbrook; Jerry Figliulo, W-T Civil Engineering, Schaumburg; George and Helen Koca, 4122 Downers Drive; Mary & Bill Ericksen, 5925 Fairview; James Kopeny, attorney, Palatine; Andrew & Angela Flowers, 5905 Fairview, Westmont; Carol and David Mejdrich, 5900 Fairview; Andrew Clark, 1226 62nd Street; Brian Pabst, 1614 Hall; Christine Fregeau, 1918 Elmore Avenue; Judy Sidrys, 5223 Lee; Tom Sisul, Chamber of Commerce; 3624 Saratoga; Ron Waechtler, Plan Commissioner, 919 Stratford Lane; Roseanne and Jeffrey Musil, 6024 Ridgewood; Megan Schroeder, 6036 Ridge Court; Raymond Ponstein, Ponstein Builders, 5734 Fairmount; William Ponstein, 6012 Hillcrest; Gordon Goodman, 5834 Middaugh Staff: Doug Kozlowski, Public Information Officer; Dave Van Vooren Deputy Village Manager; Village Forester Kerstin von der Heide; Kevin Dunne, Drainage Manager, Public Works; Rick Ebel, Public Works; John Tucker, Public Works; Trisha Steele, Assistant Director, Financial Services; Candace Nykiel, Financial Services; Greg Zimmerman, Director, Human Resources; Dorin Fera, Traffic Manager; Amanda Browne, Planner; Keith Sbiral, Planner; Joe Skach, Director, Planning & Community Development; Mike Millette, Assistant Director, Public Works
Mayor Krajewski explained that Council Workshop meetings are held the second and fourth Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. The meetings are video taped live and for later cable cast over cable channel 6.
The Workshop meeting is intended to provide Council and the public with an appropriate forum for informal discussion of any items intended for future Council consideration or just for general information. No formal action is taken at Workshop meetings.
The public is invited to attend and encouraged to comment or ask questions in an informal manner on any of the items being discussed or on any other subject. The agenda is created to provide a guideline for discussion.
Bid: Bulk Rock Salt. Manager Ginex said staff recommends that the Village be included in the joint purchase agreement with the State of Illinois. That contract is for Cargill Salt at a cost of $29.16 per ton. This contract is not to exceed $180,000.
Salary Survey Study. The Manager said the Village has a pay plan developed through Maximus that was implemented in January 2000. In keeping with the 60% goal, Greg Zimmerman looked at the plan with Maximus and has a presentation to make on that review.
Greg Zimmerman, Director, Human Resources, said it has been 18 months since the plan was reviewed. He distributed handouts of the plan for the Council’s review and then asked Jim Hughes of Maximus to explain the study further.
James Hughes said the current plan was established to recognize both external and internal equity. They use a benchmark jobs method for a baseline. He said that the Council wishes to be at the 60th percentile, based upon a comparison of groups of positions from communities selected by the Village. Those results determine what the pay of all jobs should be. When job changes occur, the jobs are evaluated again. Mr. Hughes said that the Village’s pay plan has been kept up to date, and a structure has been established for all pay ranges.
Commissioner Tully asked about which communities were surveyed, why they were chosen, and the factors of comparison. Mr. Zimmerman said they use the same group of comparables as they use for union review in order to have no discrepancies.
Commissioner Tully asked if there should be two recommendations regarding the pay scale. Mr. Zimmerman said there is actually one recommendation. They review both the lower end of the scale as well as the higher end. Maximus is recommending a range of 4.5-5% scale adjustment. That gives room so they do not have to revisit it again sooner than twelve months. He pointed out that the Village salaries are quite comparable to the surveyed communities.
Commissioner Tully said he understood there were two alternatives, meaning case-by-case basis or a single point 5%. Mr. Zimmerman said that was correct, and this provides more flexibility. The Commissioner then asked for what the impact of a 5% adjustment would be to the budget. Mr. Zimmerman said he suspected it would be in about the $10,000-$15,000 range.
Mayor Krajewski asked if the same communities have been used as comparisons over the years. Mr. Zimmerman said they have been. They are kept consistent for union comparisons.
The Mayor asked whether the survey of the eight communities is complete, and Mr. Hughes said it is complete. The Mayor would like to get information as to where other communities fall in the survey. Mr. Zimmerman said that communities fluctuate in that they may be higher in one area and lower in others. Mr. Hughes said that Arlington Heights may be the highest across the board, but for each job surveyed they are looking at the range of values, based upon a formula.
The Mayor asked whether job positions may be classified differently. Mr. Hughes said they tend to be all over the board. He noted that some of the comparable communities are also clients of Maximus, so they are familiar with the jobs being reviewed. Mr. Zimmerman said that benchmark positions are the ones that are closest to the Village’s positions. Mr. Hughes said that they are involved with website information, as well as obtaining copies of pay plans from other clients.
Commissioner McConnell said that the graph was helpful in depicting the Village’s position, and made it easier to understand. She asked why the 5% would provide more flexibility. Mr. Hughes said that they found that higher paid jobs seem to have increased more than middle range jobs. A flat 5% is a uniform rate. He said that the difference between pay grades is an absolute dollar amount, and not a percentage.
Commissioner McConnell said to remain competitive, the Village needs to adjust the range, and she would be in favor of the 4%-5.5%. She said they also need to look at the people who are at the minimum and the maximum and how to address them. Manager Ginex said that is what they are focusing on, in particular those at the top of the range.
Commissioner Zabloudil asked when the last time a wholesale adjustment was made. Mr. Zimmerman said that every employee in every position is surveyed using a Comprehensive Position Questionnaire every 5-7 years. Since the year 2000 they have been able to come back every year and look at the substantive change to any positions. Maximus is then asked to review that change. He noted that the Village has been able to keep fairly current with the market. The last scale adjustment was about 18 months ago, and that was for minor changes. Major changes are part of the 5-7 year surveys.
Commissioner Zabloudil then asked what the ideal numbers should be. Mr. Zimmerman then discussed the comparatio, which provides an indication of the flow of the pay plan. Ideally the pay plan should be in the comparatio of 1.
Manager Ginex said that he understood then that staff should look at a 4.01% movement in ranges 2-23.
Snow Removal Policy Update. Deputy Manager Van Vooren said that he has superior managers dealing with the snow and ice policy, and there were four managers in attendance at the meeting. He has the manager make the presentation regarding the policy.
Kerstin von der Heide , Village Forester, introduced Kevin Dunne, John Tucker and Rick Ebel. This is her sixth winter as snow supervisor and all of her peers have better than ten years experience in the snow plan. She said personnel are divided into orange and blue teams, which are alternated weekly for night or day shifts. The teams are divided into two scout units, which are partial teams. Fleet mechanics are also assigned a weekly rotation. She described the equipment used for snow removal. She used an overhead projection to display photos of the equipment. The 5-ton and 10-tons are used for the primary roads, as well as on the cul de sacs. These trucks have tanks to presoak the salt with calcium chloride. She showed the loaders, which also have snow pushers that are used for the parking lots.
The Mayor asked if the 5-ton and 10-ton trucks are used in cul de sacs. Ms. Von der Heide said they were.
Ms. von der Heide said the roadways are divided into Priority 1 roadways and school areas; other roadways that are Priority 2; cul de sacs and dead ends are Priority 3. Alleys are only done in the CBD area. The Village is divided into twelve routes, and each truck contains copies of all the routes as well as the downtown area. All cul de sacs are numbered, and a checklist has been developed. She then showed maps of the routes, and described them. She explained the storm preparation, based upon what type of weather is expected. Sidewalks in the CBD are treated with an anti-icing material, which is done by the trackless machines using a special coating for the sidewalk areas. Roadway clearing goals are: Priority 1 and 2 roadways to be cleared within 12 hours after the storm ends, Priority 3 to be cleared 18 hours after the storm ends, and the CBD cleared within 8 hours of the end of the storm. She noted that most complaints come from cul de sacs and deadends. For cul de sacs 60’-70’ in diameter, a 10-ton truck takes up half of the diameter. Problems with heavy snows in those areas is that the snow slides off the plow and ends up in driveways. However, they can only clear about half of a load, so they need to go back with a 1-ton truck to maneuver more efficiently.
Mayor Krajewski asked whether the new vehicles are coming before the season starts. Ms. von der Heide said they should be in. The Mayor asked about the trucks used on Routes 2 & 4 as they have cul de sacs. Ms. von der Heide explained the particular problems the trucks encounter with cars parked on the roadways, or the situation of the road.
Kevin Dunne said the larger trucks are used on those routes as those routes are farthest from the base and it can take up to an hour to go back and forth for the salt.
Ms. von der Heide then explained the problems they can have with misplaced mailboxes and a system established to replace them. She also said they will be using some new products this coming year including a product called Clear Lane, and Ice Ban which is a pre-wet agent. Ms. von der Heide said that some concerns of staff are the discontinuation of contract plowing which was previously done in four areas. In addition the postponement of contractual tree pruning can cause problems because of storm damage and lack of adequate truck clearance.
The Mayor asked if the 18 hours for cul de sacs is the same as last year, and Ms. von der Heide said that was correct. The Mayor asked about State and County roads, and asked staff to check about a directive to have more of the State or County people on the highways rather than the local roads. The Village should be aware of that.
Mr. Dunne pointed out to the Mayor that staff responds to any emergency.
Commissioner Tully thanked staff for their presentation. He noted that a lot of work and planning goes into this project. He said he would be interested in knowing the environmental issues regarding pre-wet agents. Ms. von der Heide said that the salt chloride can cause a great deal of damage, and that is why they are looking at the Clear Lane, because of the amount of salt or chloride being washed into the water systems.
Commissioner Tully asked how this interacts with the Clean Water Act and asked staff to provide that information at some later date.
Commissioner McConnell thanked staff as well for the presentation, and she has been able to see improvements on a year-by-year basis. She then asked about the cost difference for the Clear Lane.
Rick Ebel said that the Clear Lane is $9 per ton more than the rock salt. In the long run, however, it saves money and they may use less salt. He added that it doesn’t damage the grass or trees either. He said they will be trying it on Routes 7 and 12. He said rock salt tends to bounce as it comes out of the truck and one of the benefits is that there is less bounce behind the truck with Clear Lane. He further noted that calcium chloride causes corrosion and problems with brakes and springs. In response to the Mayor concerning storage, Mr. Ebel said they have moved gravel at Public Works temporarily, and there is also storage behind the 801 building.
Commissioner McConnell suggested that staff conduct a cost benefit analysis of using salt or Clear Lane.
Commissioner Urban asked what other communities are using this product. Mr. Ebel said that Kane County used 4000 tons last year. They have rural areas as well as those comparable to the Village, and they said they like the Clear Lane the best. He said that the Clear Lane doesn’t store differently than rock salt. Commissioner Urban then expressed his appreciation for the presentation as well.
Commissioner Zabloudil said that the cost of 6,000 tons at $9 per ton would be about $54,000. He said they could be spending at least that amount of money to correct damage to trees, the environment and the equipment.
The Mayor asked if they have more vehicles than personnel. Ms. von der Heide said they do not put every truck out in the event of a breakdown or a need for a truck for other purposes. She added that one truck is devoted to water main breaks, and is only used as a snow backup.
Commissioner Sandack said as a new Commissioner, it is nice to hear the comprehensive plan that is in place.
The Mayor asked what happens if the snow starts at 5:00 p.m. Ms. von der Heide said they bring in a shift early if necessary. They communicate well with each other.
Dave Mejdrich , 5900 Fairview, said that he heard a comment made that at the town homes the contractor was pushing the snow into the street. He asked if that was against the law. The Mayor said that is against the law throughout the Village, and if they are aware of it they are cited for that. The Mayor said that parked cars are a major problem as well.
Tax Levy/Revenue Discussion. Deputy Manager Dave Van Vooren reviewed the adoption of the 2003 Tax levy, and discussion on the 2004/05 budget. He said that the anticipated schedule to adopt the Tax Levy begins tonight. There is a revenue workshop with Council on November 15. The Truth in Taxation notice must be published November 20. December 2 will be the Public Hearing with adoption on December 16.
Deputy Village Manager Dave Van Vooren reviewed the 2003/04 General Fund Revenues with a total of $37,000,000. He said that the Home Rule Sales Tax represents 8.1% of anticipated revenue. A sunset clause was established on the Home Rule Sales Tax. If it is the desire of the Council eliminate the Home Rule Sales Tax, they have to begin the process of making up that revenue source which equals about $4 million. Deputy Van Vooren said that the most stable fund is the property tax revenue source. There are four levies: Police, Fire, Police Pension and Fire Pension.
Deputy Van Vooren said that the Fire and Police property tax levies have been fairly consistent from 1984-2003. Expenses in public safety have been increasing annually since 1984/85. In 1984/85 the expenses were $4 million while in 2003 they rose to $18 million. Using overhead charts he explained how the Village met those escalating costs by the sales tax. In 1984/85 sales taxes exceeded expenses. In 1992/93, the sales tax started to fall short. In 1999 there was a net decline in sales tax and continued growth of public safety. Now, with a drop in sales taxes, there has been a shift and staff is trying to fill the gap.
Mayor Krajewski asked that staff look at communities without fire protection districts and how much of the tax dollars cover public safety.
Deputy Van Vooren said the Home Rule Sales Tax will increase tax receipts. He said that the Tax Levy includes the Village, the Library, and the Special Service Areas. The total Village levy is $0.3675. He then reviewed the various other levies for tax bills.
Deputy Van Vooren then reviewed the property tax levy estimates of assessed valuation of $1,750,000,000 for 2003, which is 8.2% above 2003 assessments. The Police Pension levy anticipates a 27.1% increase, with a 6.6% increase for the Fire Pension levy. The increases are driven by return on investments. Mr. Van Vooren said that in 2003 the Council agreed to keep the property tax rate frozen, and staff anticipates the same strategy for 2003. He said the Council can choose to abate only those levies where funds are available. If they choose to abate all, there would be a $1.1 million shortfall, which would then have to come from the capital improvements program.
Deputy Van Vooren then summarized that the options for adjusting the tax rates would be as follows: 1) keep the rates the same for both fire and police pensions; 2) increase the rates to offset the increase in the pension funds or 3) increase the rates by either $.02 or $.04. He noted that they might want to increase the rates if the Home Rule Sales Tax is discontinued.
Deputy Van Vooren then discussed the impact on property valued at $300,000 that would show an increase from 0-$80 depending upon the increased rate. He explained that general fund expenses drives the need for increases in the tax rate. The General fund projection indicates a revenue increase of about 1.9%, with a 4.5 to 7.6% increase in expenses, leaving a preliminary general fund gap of between $900,000 to $2.1 million.
Commissioner Tully commented that due to legal requirements the Village has to give notice of the levies before the budget is analyzed and passed. They have to talk about revenue before they talk about expenses. The Village has done an excellent job of keeping expenses down. He said that the pension increases are driving the large share of increased costs, and they must be funded. He stated that he is adamant about the sunset clause in the Home Rule Sales Tax. There are two years left on it. In the past the sales tax revenues allowed for low property taxes. Regarding abatements, he said they abate when they can, and this is another year where they cannot abate. Regarding the Capital Improvements budget, Commissioner Tully said that right now they have over $3 million of unfunded stormwater projects.
The Mayor noted that 1/3 of all dollars collected are for police and fire pensions.
Commissioner McConnell said she does not know how much the Village can abate. She said they must protect the Capital Improvement fund this year. She asked staff to take a fresh look at all the services provided to determine whether they still provide value to the community. She would not like to see the property tax rates increased.
The Mayor said he had suggested a loan from the general fund to the debt service fund. He noted that the police and fire public safety funds are where the problem is.
Commissioner Urban asked the dollar amount of the Home Rule Sales Tax. Deputy Van Vooren said it is $3 million, or $300,000 per month. They are looking at about $3.6 million in 2004/05. The sunset clause is 3 years after adoption.
Commissioner Urban then asked whether the trend of the Village’s sales tax is unique. Mr. Van Vooren said he did not have that information but would research it. The Mayor said that all of DuPage County is trending down. Mr. Van Vooren said he thought they would trend about the same as others, with the exception of some smaller communities that have had large additions, such as Home Depot in the Oak Brook Terrace community. Commissioner Urban said he agreed that the capital project fund has to be studied and stabilized.
Commissioner Zabloudil said that they need to bridge the gap between the property taxes and the public safety costs, and the Council will need to make some tough decisions. He said that the Village has been the fortunate recipient of low tax rates for years. Mr. Van Vooren said that the Home Rule sales tax represents about $.20 in the tax rate.
Commissioner Sandack said that they are obviously just beginning the process of studying the levy and then the budget process, which is a bit backward but cannot be helped. He said that they may need to look at how the Council wishes to balance the funding sources. They will have to make some difficult decisions. The Home Rule Sales Tax has a sunset clause and will eventually go away. They need to think about how to replace those funds.
Commissioner Tully suggested a discussion regarding exactly what the revenues should be going toward. The pension fund, public safety, infrastructure, capital improvements projects benefit everyone in the Village. They must determine what will pay for those particular items, and what revenue will pay for other expenses. He said that the Home Rule Sales Tax is a bridge that they are using to get the Village through the recession; however, the State has been changing its budget and the Village may never be back to where they were originally.
Commissioner Zabloudil asked whether other communities divide their corporate revenues for specific departments or funds. Mr. Van Vooren said he doesn’t know of any that have taken the general funds and done that, though some communities have allocated out a revenue stream for further capital funding. He said that the Village has adopted a Home Rule Sales Tax with a sunset clause. The Department of Revenue will not act upon that sunset clause. The Village must take a proactive stance to repeal it.
Dr. Gordon Goodman , 5834 Middaugh, said he has been trying to understand some of the background information posted on the agenda item. There was a table called an Analysis of the Tax Levy. He said it seemed to him that the correlation between the proposed rate for 2003 and the proposed extension for 2003 was not right, and didn’t correspond to the assessed valuation. The Mayor said that the formula was wrong for the 2003 proposed extensions. Dr. Goodman said that some of the Library figures are also in error. He said that he is in sympathy with the Council that the sunset clause is exactly that. He said he believes that the property tax has been held artificially low, and that it is time for the Village to be looking more closely at this.
Mr. Van Vooren clarified that there are two bond issues in the Library.
Fairway Court Subdivision. The Manager asked Joe Skach, Director, Planning and Community Development, to address this item.
Joe Skach , Director, Planning and Community Development, said that staff has no additional information to the staff packet already provided to the Council. With respect to the preliminary plat process, the Subdivision Ordinance allows for the petitioner to come before the Plan Commission and Council to determine the appropriateness of the subdivision.
William Ponstein , petitioner residing at 6012 Hillcrest, said he was before the Council seeking approval of a preliminary plat for a 5-lot subdivision with one exception for lot depth that is on one single lot. The exception is for 14 feet. He said that this is a typical exception in other cul de sacs. He has done seven subdivisions with eight cul de sacs and this subdivision has the least amount of exceptions. The Zoning Ordinance does not specify a required depth. The Subdivision Control Ordinances states 140’ as the minimum depth, with exceptions as provided. He reviewed the criteria in evaluating the exception. Mr. Ponstein said they are not changing the setbacks or the required rear yard property, and the exception is consistent with the surrounding areas. He noted that they have to dedicate 17’ for roadway purposes on a road which is already developed. Mr. Ponstein said the lot meets the width requirements, and exceeds the minimum area requirements by 12%. The subdivision is consistent with the character of the locality.
Commissioner Tully asked Mr. Ponstein about staff’s review of the drainage system. He asked if Mr. Ponstein would be willing to go above and beyond the stormwater requirement. Mr. Ponstein said that would be no problem. He has more than ample space on the site to reconfigure the lots, but it would not be as advantageous. Because of the depth of the property, Lots 2 and 4 are deeper than they have to be. It would make a crowded looking cul de sac.
Commissioner McConnell said that Mr. Ponstein’s work in the Village has always been of good quality. Then she asked why they’ve designed this particular format and the cul de sac. She said it seemed that there were other alternatives that would not require a variance. Mr. Ponstein said he knows he could do five lots without a variance, even though it would not be as attractive or desirable. He said he felt his plan was the best use of the property. He said people have suggested three houses on Fairview because of the traffic and difficulty of getting out of their driveways. He would not be comfortable with making lots with the same problems. Cul de sac lots are desired and provide for a different character of houses. Commissioner McConnell said her perception is that the cul de sac seems out of character with the street. She is not convinced that the cul de sac will provide a traffic advantage. Mr. Ponstein said he does not see negative factors. He said that a road provides a 70’ right-of-way with turning lanes. Many traffic problems include getting off the road as well as getting on. The intersection provides plenty of width. Lots that abut on a busy street are not as desirable.
Commissioner Urban asked if there would be enough room for people to have a turn around rather than backing out onto Fairview with three lots and three driveways accessing Fairview. Mr. Ponstein said he would assume that they would have a turnaround.
Commissioner Zabloudil said he thought Mr. Ponstein identified this as the most optimal use of the property. Mr. Ponstein said that was correct.
Commissioner Zabloudil asked Amanda Browne, Planner, about the 17’ setback dedication, saying he thought they already have the dedication. He asked where the sidewalk falls in relation to the 17’ dedication on the preliminary plat survey. Ms. Browne said the sidewalk is currently in the right-of-way that is not part of the 17’.
Commissioner McConnell asked Mr. Ponstein if there would be potential for additional variances if they went with the five lots. Mr. Ponstein said that he builds as the homes are bought and he has never asked for variances in all the years that he has built in the Village. He would intend to continue that.
Commissioner Tully asked staff about the criteria for evaluating an exception to the Subdivision Control Ordinance. Attorney Petrarca said Section 20-602© are the criteria used to evaluate a hardship. Commissioner Tully said that based upon the minutes of the Plan Commission meeting, the proposed use is consistent with the Future Land Use Plan of the Village, and staff said that was correct. Commissioner Tully asked if this was an assembled parcel, and Mr. Skach said that was correct.
Commissioner Tully said he understood from the minutes that there was opposition to the subdivision and in particular to the exceptions under Section 20-602. It seemed that the people just don’t like this. He said there are a number of cul de sacs in the Village all of which have received some type of exception with respect to lot depth. He does not see any difference between this and others. He has always wrestled with how to apply the ordinance’s criteria, and has not reached a conclusion. He said he will study the materials that he received today and see how they apply to the requirements. He was troubled with the comments at the Plan Commission meeting that primarily seem to say nothing more than “I don’t like it.” If we do not like cul de sacs or cul de sacs on busy streets, then the Ordinance should be changed to say that, and not strike down requests. It is necessary to apply the criteria to the request to determine if it is legitimate.
Commissioner McConnell said that she believes a conversation is necessary about the concept of cul de sacs and when and where they are appropriate. She does not want to hold up the petitioner for that conversation, but she thinks this should be discussed in the future.
Commissioner Tully said he agreed 100%. They had a good deal of discussion on flag lots in the past, and a discussion on cul de sacs should also be raised.
Commissioner McConnell then asked where they measure to come up with the exceptions. Mr. Skach said that they determine it by using a front lot line and a rear lot line that is most parallel to that line. On cul de sacs, those lot lines can be adjusted to meet Code criteria. The width is determined by the line perpendicular to the depth measurement.
Commissioner McConnell said one of the comments made was that there were some best practice recommendations, and asked what that was.
Jon Hall, Stormwater Administrator, said the natural topography of the site has a significant slope from west to east. That allows most of the stormwater to drain towards Fairview Avenue by grass swales. Some subdivision would have stormsewers in the rear yard. The longer distance you can flow over grass swales, the more infiltration you will get into the ground, which positively impacts the water quality of runoff. He said that this is strongly encouraged by the DuPage County Stormwater Ordinance, and this site works well for that stormwater design.
Commissioner Sandack, who was on a phone connection, had to leave the meeting and requested a line disconnect from staff.
Commissioner Tully said that stormwater requirements would have to be addressed in final approval. He does not think that the Village’s stormwater requirements are strong enough. He believes they should be more restrictive than the County.
Commissioner Urban said he cannot understand why this is before the Council. The petitioner is asking for an exception for one lot, but the lots are huge. There is ample room for fire trucks, and he sees this as clear-cut. He thinks it is much safer to be pulling out of one driveway rather than three driveways. And he does not think there would be enough room for a turn-around driveway if this were decreased to three lots.
Mr. Skach said that with respect to procedures for preliminary plats, the Council reviews them even without exceptions. Regarding footprints, they are a function of how tall the buildings are, since taller buildings require larger setbacks. Mr. Ponstein’s proposal showed a basic footprint, which may be modified as drawings come in.
Andrew Flowers , 5905 Fairview, said he lives directly across from the proposed subdivision. He said he thought this would be an informational issue and an extension of the Plan Commission’s negative recommendation which was 8-1 against. The Mayor said that the Council received all of the information and has gone through that information from the Plan Commission and staff report.
Mr. Flowers said that the proposal is not consistent with the neighborhood. There are no cul de sacs within one mile of the site. All other homes face Fairview, and this subdivision would have garages that face Fairview. Mr. Flowers said that he was told by the Fire Department that fire trucks would not be able to get into the cul de sac. He noted that cul de sacs cost the Village money, and added that children should not have to cross another street to get to school. Mr. Flowers said snow plowing would create another safety issue by blocking off the cul de sac entrance. He believes that the three lot subdivision works better. The price range of the homes is $500,000-$600,000 and they should build the homes on lots that have the proper space. He is disappointed that the people think this is okay. Another concern is that Mr. Ponstein intends to remove the trees, which is not necessary. In addition, the water runoff is already a problem. When it rains heavily, water runs across Fairview and floods the area in front of his home. He said this planned subdivision will increase the water flow. Mr. Flowers said three homes would be perfect and he hopes the Council votes to deny this petition.
Commissioner Zabloudil asked Mr. Flowers where he lives, and Mr. Flowers replied that he lived in Westmont. Commissioner Zabloudil asked whom he spoke with on the Fire Department and Mr. Flowers said he thought he spoke to the Fire Chief.
Commissioner Tully asked if Mr. Flowers would have concerns if this subdivision was not on Fairview Avenue. Mr. Flowers said not as much. The builders plan to tear down the trees and that makes no sense. Commissioner Tully said from what he observed from the Plan Commission minutes, the objectors seemed to say that they did not like cul de sacs, and they did not address the criteria of the Ordinance. He said that there is no ban on cul de sacs. If this meets the public safety, stormwater and lot area/setback requirements it can be built. He said that Mr. Flowers has raised good issues, but Commissioner Tully said that he has to see whether the petition complies with the five criteria of the Ordinance.
The Mayor asked if there is an established width in the Code of what a cul de sac has to be, and asked that staff check into this. If the Fire Department claims it has trouble getting into the cul de sacs, then those requirements have to be reviewed and the Department should inform the Council of this.
Mike Millette , Assistant Director, Public Works, said that this proposed cul de sac is greater than the required width.
Bill Erickson , 5925 Fairview, said that cul de sacs are not his objection; it is the density. The Mayor explained that there are strict Village Codes that the Council has to apply, and if the developer meets the Code the Council cannot stop them from building on that property. Mr. Erickson asked whether it is a good idea to put another cul de sac on a busy street.
Dave Mejdrich , 5900 Fairview, said that his property will be the most impacted by this subdivision. Regarding the driveways, between 59th Street and 63rd Street on Fairview all properties have a turnaround driveway. There is ample room on the subject property for turnarounds on the three-house subdivision. He said that this is not a cul de sac issue, but a traffic issue. Mr. Mejdrich said that there is a dedicated turn lane at the location of the cul de sac going northbound, and his lot is at 59th and Fairview. He has to turn where the cul de sac would be, and has to enter the center lane early to avoid being rear-ended. This is where the cul de sac would be. He believes the area would be more dangerous. His driveway is often used as a turnaround, and he thinks the cul de sac will also be used as a turnaround.
Angela Flowers , 5905 Fairview, said that a lot of this comes down to the fact that they don’t like it. They see themselves as advocates for their community and have made an attempt to attend every hearing on this project. She said they do not want a cul de sac on Fairview. The neighborhood is what you see when you walk out of your front door. They do not want change. Three houses would serve the purpose. The proposed subdivision will change the environment she lives in, and she wants to preserve what the neighborhood looks like. She would like cul de sacs to be the topic of discussion now and not pushed off to a later time. Houses will be taking up the majority of the lots, and there will not be yards. She said that the Council are elected advocates for the community.
The Mayor said that the Council has to deal with the current Code requirements. Ms. Flowers said that she wants to see open space and trees.
Dr. Gordon Goodman , 5834 Middaugh, said that it is necessary to understand the policy of the Village in terms of implementing it. The Plan Commission thought they understood the policy and recommended denial of this. He said that it is important that the Council communicate with the Plan Commission and that the Plan Commission understands the reasons the Council has for whatever its decision may be. He said that these are coming more and more frequently before the Plan Commission under its expanded role.
The Mayor responded staff is working with the Plan Commission in terms of articulating the reasons for their decisions and recommendations. Dr. Goodman said that changes in the composition in the Plan Commission may also be a consideration. He said that the Plan Commission may also want to reconsider some prior votes on cul de sacs, and the question is how the Village will look at that. The Mayor said that there are a number of areas that have to be reviewed.
Dr. Goodman said that the criteria he heard most often discussed was the character of the neighborhood and whether it justified an exception. An exception is done at the discretion of the Village. He said that regarding the development at 59th and Main Street, there are houses which back up to Main Street. That did not seem appropriate then, nor does it now. There needs to be a procedure in place to protect ourselves against things that are inappropriate.
James Kopeny , 751 Pompano Lane, Palatine, said he was present on behalf of Andrew Flowers. He said he was a zoning attorney. He reviewed the proposal of Mr. Ponstein and discussed the height of buildings. He said that you cannot build two-story houses on this site without additional setback. The Mayor explained that the Village does not measure from ground level to the peak, as Mr. Kopeny said. Mr. Ponstein said it is the mean point of the roof. He also said that the houses as originally planned would fit on the lot. Mr. Kopeny disagreed. The Mayor suggested that Mr. Kopeny he did not understand how the homes are measured.
Mr. Kopeny said that these houses take up every bit of the lot, and are not in character with the neighborhood. This will have a tremendous impact on the houses behind the site and this will look cluttered.
Commissioner Tully asked Mr. Kopeny that if Mr. Ponstein realigned the homes on the site without an exception, would there be a less effective stormwater solution. Mr. Kopeny said that the question is why should they put off discussion of the cul de sacs rather than address them now, when the issue is before the Council. He said if Mr. Ponstein builds the houses as they are sold, that the last house would not fit and that would be a hardship which staff would bring before the Council as a hardship. Commissioner Tully said that cannot happen because each home will have to meet the Code requirements. The Mayor said that Mr. Kopeny’s problem may be that he does not understand how the Village measurements are done.
Megan Schroeder , 6036 Ridge Court, said she lives in a Ponstein home on a cul de sac, and she is also a realtor in the Village. She said that Mr. Ponstein would never build a house that would not fit on a site properly or would not drain properly. She does not have a sump pump in her house and hasn’t needed one. Ms. Schroeder said these are not odd shaped lots. The site was reassembled, and this cannot be compared to the houses on 59th Street. The Ordinance does not stipulate whether the front had to face the street. She noted that it is easier to sell a home if it is on a cul de sac and she hoped that the Council agrees with the petition.
Ron Waechtler , 919 Stratford Lane, is a member of the Plan Commission. He stated that three other Plan Commission members e-mailed the Council because they could not be present tonight. He said that the Commission has to weigh the concerns of Village development, builders and residents. One of the concerns with cul de sacs is traffic entering onto Fairview and making left turns. He said that when there are heavily trafficked streets, they need to look carefully at cul de sacs, and he does not like to see this setting a precedent. There were five exceptions mentioned, and he asked the Council to review three of those, #2, #3, and #5 which refer to whether the development is consistent with the trend of development in the area, characteristics of the property, and whether the exception will alter the character of the locality.
Commissioner Tully asked Mr. Waechtler why he felt the petition does not meet those exceptions. Mr. Waechtler said he is looking at all of Fairview Avenue where the homes are set back from the road and have individual drives versus cul de sacs. Those on the Commission who didn’t vote in favor of this petition did not do that lightly. He is concerned about traffic and safety issues. He agrees that the Village will have to resolve this issue of cul de sacs on heavily trafficked roads. Mr. Waechtler said the mistake made by the Commission was that the Commissioners did not specify why they voted “Nay” in this particular situation.
The Mayor said that this petition will come before the Council next week for a vote.
Raymond Ponstein , 5734 Fairmount, said that at the Plan Commission there was a recommendation by the traffic division that was included in the packets presented to the Council.
Dr. Goodman pointed out that in Paragraph 2 in the proposed draft resolution should be amended, as it is a negative recommendation paragraph and may have to be revised.
William Ponstein said that the issue with the fire truck was addressed because the radius was reduced to make it easier for fire trucks to get in. In addition, he noted that the lots on one side of the street are wider than the other side of the street, and that was done to preserve the row of trees that is there now.
BP Amoco Amend Special Use. Mr. Skach said that with respect to Condition #3 and Condition #1 regarding the removal of two parking spaces, recent plans have met those conditions so they have been satisfied. Those are the spaces closest to Main Street and the retention area.
Commissioner Tully said he would like to have a copy of the site plan with the parking spaces and where the new spaces are going to be put.
Jerry Figliulo of WT Civil Engineering responded to Commissioner Tully that the new spaces will be where there is currently grass in the retention area. There are four to the north along Ogden and two directly in front of the building. Those on the west side are existing.
Commissioner Tully asked about the parking space directly in front of the station and whether they would consider a no parking/pedestrian path there. Mr. Figliulo said if they could have one more space on the east side they would be willing to do that and move the handicap space. That will have to be addressed.
Commissioner McConnell questioned the order in which the things were done. Mr. Skach said that he hoped the petitioners would talk to staff before hand versus after the fact.
Ron Waechtler , 919 Stratford Lane, said that the installation of the café before approval was an oversight. He said he hoped that this does not happen again. BP Amoco should have abided by the ordinances.
Commissioner Zabloudil asked whether plans were submitted for the café, and Mr. Waechtler said they were not.
George Koca , 4122 Downers Drive, has lived there for 46 years and likes the Village. He suggested that the Public Works Department has a gas-fired incinerator that could be used by the residents to dispose of records. This could make the Village a leader in many communities for a way to destroy records.
Snow Deposit Ordinance. The Manager said this concerns placing snow on the streets and sidewalks impeding the safety of pedestrians and vehicular traffic. This creates additional work for the Public Works department. It will prohibit placing snow on streets, sidewalks and right-of-ways.
Commissioner McConnell asked what the fine is and Manager Ginex said it would be $75.
The Mayor asked if this could be included in the newsletter.
Doug Kozlowski , Public Information Officer, said it was too late for that but will be advertised by other means.
Alley Ordinance. The Manager said requests have been made to use alleys as ingress and egress for residential access. There needs to be a clearer definition of the terms and uses of alleys and other Village owned land.
STANDING COMMITTEE REPORTS
Commissioner McConnell said the Public Safety Committee will take a tour of the firehouses on Saturday, November 15 at 8:00 a.m.
ATTORNEY ’S REPORT
Village Attorney Enza Petrarca said she was presenting five items to the Council: 1) A resolution amending the Downers Grove compensation plan to adopt a revised plan effective May 2, 2004; 2) A resolution approving the preliminary plat of subdivision for Fairway Court Subdivision; 3) An ordinance amending a special use for 4314 Main Street to permit reconstruction of the existing service station to include a deli/sit-down café; 4) An ordinance prohibiting the depositing of snow on streets and sidewalks; and 5) An ordinance defining alleys and permitted uses.
Commissioner McConnell thanked the veterans for their protection of the citizens.
Commissioner Urban wished Downers Grove North Varsity Football Team another win.
Commissioner Tully expressed his appreciation to the veterans overseas and those back home.
There being no further discussion, the Workshop meeting was adjourned at 10:15 p.m.
April K. Holden Village Clerk tmh