By Krystyna Slivinski, Special to the Tribune
July 18, 2013
The battle has begun as a bid to build a mega gas station and car wash at the northeast corner of Route 53 and Butterfield Road near Glen Ellyn has moved one step closer to approval despite opposition from neighboring residents including Lombard's Butterfield Park District.
Members of DuPage County's Zoning Board of Appeal recently voted 4-2 in favor of recommending the project — a decision that caught many of the more than 50 opponents who attended the hour-long meeting by surprise.
"I believe some people want the project to go through so much that the impact on children is not being given top priority," said Larry Reiner, parks executive director, pointing out that fumes from cars and trucks are not what children should be breathing in when attending district programs.
"I don't think there's any mistake when it comes to liability if the board approves this," said Reiner. Programs that include child care, service residents from Glen Ellyn, Wheaton and Downers Grove.
The zoning board's approval comes with a long list of conditions that will be reviewed at Thursday's meeting. If a motion to reconsider is not introduced, the matter then proceeds to the Development Committee on Aug 6. The DuPage County board will have the final say.
The gas station proposed by Buchanan Energy based in Omaha, Neb., will include a "Bucky's" convenience store and will share the intersection with two other gas stations. In the '90s, the site was home to a smaller Shell gas station that closed.
The size has sparked fear in parks officials who will be the gas station's immediate neighbor to the east. Under the proposal, the district's pool and picnic area would be within a stone's throw of the car wash that would be large enough to accommodate a 15-car line.
Zoning members Michael Loftus and Jim McNamara voted against the project.
"It's just too much for the property," said Loftus. "My feeling is it doesn't fit and it's intrusive. It's meant to be a high-volume station."
For many commission members, the fact the site was previously home to a gas station made it nearly impossible to deny the application without worrying about a potential lawsuit.
"I probably wouldn't want this next to me, but I don't see a legal basis to deny this," said member Barry Ketter.
Board Chairman Robert Kartholl agreed, calling the issue "problematic" but doable because of the list of conditions that could help the parks and station coexist. Among the conditions are a 10-foot natural tree buffer and an 8-foot fence between the parks and the gas station.
But parks officials point out that since the elevation of the proposed gas station is much higher than district facilities that include pools, splash pad and picnic areas, its ability to provide families with a tranquil and woodsy environment will be beyond reach.
"How is 10 feet of trees going to accomplish anything," asked Lisa Saunderson, parks commissioner.
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