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St. Charles Task Force Works to Polish Comprehensive Plan

Panel struggles with details on downtown parking as discussion of residential use in West Gateway area draws fire from representative of Near West Neighborhood Association.

Members of the St. Charles Comprehensive Plan Task Force met Wednesday night to begin ironing out some of the finer details of a plan officials hope to use to guide development across the city for the next two decades.

The task force’s work is far from over. It is scheduled to meet Oct. 30 to continue the work is began this week, as well as a meeting in November. After that, St. Charles Planning Division Manager Russell Colby said, once the task force is comfortable with the draft plan, there will be a public open house. Then the comprehensive plan would go before the St. Charles Planning Commission for a recommendation, and then there would be a hearing before the City Council.

Wednesday evening’s work focused on tweaking and changing some of the minutiae in the three sub-areas of the overall draft plan. Those sub-areas are downtown St. Charles, the West Gateway and the East Gateway.

Two issues garnered the attention of task force members on Wedmesday — one was downtown parking, particularly along Route 31 and along 1st Street, and the other was the use of the term mixed use and what that means in terms of commercial and residentil development in the West Gateway sub-area of the overall comprehensive plan.

In terms of parking, task force members struggled with what to do along Route 31, including suggestions for parking decks in specific areas along Route 31.

Task force members Betsy Penny and John Rabchuk questioned the idea of specifying certain downtown locations for the development of parking decks in the downtown sub-area plan, particularly along Route 31. Rabchuk suggested any new development along Route 31 needs to be “self-spporting” in terms of parking — meaning the development must provide parking to meet its needs without affecting other downtoewn businesses’ parking needs.

It’s an issue that many communities grapple with, particularly older, established communities whose downtowns developed before car ownership became so widespread. In recent decades, communities have struggled with who is responsible for developing parking areas in congested downtowns. Sometimes, municipal government steps in to develop parking space — whether a lot or a parking deck. The latter is costly.

But when redevelopment occurs — buildings are removed, for example, to make way for something else, communities usually use their zoning ordinances to require developers to include parking as a part of their development plans.

Devin Levigne, of Houseal Lavigne Associates, the consultants the city hired to help guide the process for drawing up the comprehensive plan, suggested along that line with an idea called cache and move parking: A developer who comes in with a plan that would remove, say 20 parking spaces, would be required in the development to not only restore those 20 spaces, but also to provide adequate parking to meet the needs of the development’s employees and patrons.

Levigne’s remarls in that regard also targeted parking needs along 1st Street.

West Gateway Residential Discussion Draws Criticism

The use of the term “mixed use” for development in the West Gateway sub-area along Randall Road sparked its own discussion — and drew concerns from a local developer who has shown interest in building multifamily homes in the area, and one of the leaders of a homeowners group intent upon barring any future development of apartments there.

David Patzelt, president of Sho-Deen, saying the town center is the big elephant in the room, said mixed use in the West Gateway area should include residential components on higher floors of retail development. He also said he does not believe the draft comprehensive plan jibes with the decisions of the St. Charles Planning Commission, which already has addressed such uses.

Levigne said the term mixed use was pulled from the West Gateway sub-area draft because it had drawn such negative reaction from residents.

The idea of mixed use, he said, would allow a commercial development to have residences on upper floors, and West Gateway-area residents have expressed grave misgivings about the development of any more apartment housing on the city’s West Side.

But the idea of a mixed commercial-residential development seemed palatable to some task force members, who wondered if deciding the omit the term “mixed use from the plan” was an over-reaction, and wondered if putting language into the plan that was more precise, or perhaps included a residential desnity range, would be an adequate solution.

Regardless, Vanessa Bell-LaSota, vice president of the Near West Neighborhood Association, expressed her concerns about the direction the task force is taking in a letter to the editor at Patch. Bell-LaSota also is president of the Concerned Coalition for Sensible Spending of St Charles, Inc.

She spoke against changing the plan to include the term mixed use, saying it is what the residents of that area have demanded.

Related:

  • Letter to the Editor: Questions St. Charles Comprehensive Plan Direction

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Elizabeth R October 27, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Kim, sounds like you definitely have the knowledge, background experience and level head and I hope you do go elected. I wish I lived near you and could give a vote! It's plain and simple. Kim is right....both companies bought these PRIME PROPERTIES and knew what zoning they held, had they wished to change that, they both should have optioned the land and went for a zoning change before final purchase. The City owes them nothing, especially going against tax payers to kiss up with them. Public opinion has been over whelming against these housing projects just as it has been against the proposed Lexington Homes near St Pats Church. The fact Batavia, Geneva & S Elgin is and has gotten all the better commercial is absolute proof "roof tops" haven't a thing to do with securing great commercial in this area. Maybe you could argue it for Elburrn or Burlington areas but not the "TRI-CITIES" because all businesses will pull residents from all the surrounding communities which has proven itself for the last 50 years or more. And again I emphasize our 2012 City Survey which the City claimed showed the true sense of what residents wanted by like 96%. So Now listen to the residents, you after all......ANSWER TO THEM...Mayor, City Council and Comp Plan Committee Members! You weren't placed in these positions to carry out your personal agendas!!!!!!
Kim Malay October 27, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Thank you Louis. I would like to make something clear though. As many will tell you who know me through my efforts with the Near West Neighborhood Assoc., My statements on here aren't new and aren't stated because I am running for Alderman, they are because I have been an active resident and have been working for sensible and responsible development for many years especially since I left the City and formed the Near West Neighborhood Assoc. I chose to run for alderman because I do understand both sides of issues due to my experience and felt I could help move St. Charles forward. I look right now at where our City is at and we are at a cross roads. We either chose to Urbanize St. Charles with high density developments, or we protect our historic home town - small town feel by pushing for responsible development, development that has the qualities of blending with and enhances our neighborhoods, respects our neighbors and enhances our quality of life. This is the choice of our elected officials and I ask everyone why did you move here or chose to stay here? I myself moved here because of the charm and small hometown apeal and so far everyone I have asked has said the same. I have yet to hear anyone say they moved here because they had hoped for St. Charles to turn into Oak Park.
Vanessa Bell-LaSota October 27, 2012 at 05:59 PM
The Patch did not include the other elephant in the room that was not even considered until I brought it up: Red Gate Bridge. Opening around Dec 17th, development in that corridor 20 yrs out needs to be addressed in the Comp Plan. Quoting the 2010 Fed Highway Admin report: Finding of No Significant Impact: New St Charles Bridge Crossing-" Many potential impacts... would be related to additional development that may occur as a result of improved access, which could lead to changes in land use...With projected 2030 traffic on the bridge of 15,500 vehicles per day,...1,550...trucks ( light duty-limited to less than 20,000 lbs)." That is 18 years away. With 2 historic sites along Red Gate-1 landmarked & 1 in the process of landmarking, North High School and residential developments, we need to be sure the Task Force TAKES THE TIME to create a focus statement on that area NOW. Lavigne says it will be in the "land use document"-which does not exist for public access presently. Get online, e-mail the task force & consultant on the Comp Plan site-see it on the : www.stcharlesil.gov home page. Do it today.
Steve Rogers October 30, 2012 at 01:01 PM
Thanks for those responses Kim. I've been out of town but here are 3 new questions. 1. What was the response from the city officials and Mayor Klinkhamer? 2. Are there any good developments that have been done in the city? Which ones? 3. What was your job with the city and DuPage County that makes you an expert, what is your education and background, and what are you doing now?
Vanessa Bell-LaSota October 31, 2012 at 06:14 AM
Tuesday's Comp Plan meeting was a marathon, ending around 11pm. I personally appreciate that the Task Force accepted my suggestions about the wording on parcel #8, Red Gate Farm, on the Future Land Use Map, to indicate sensistivity to the protected and historic nature of the area, and also to consider the impact of FHWA Findings regarding future traffic (15,500 cars by 2030 over Red Gate bridge?) and FHWA -suggested possible resultant land use change, to protect the residential and rural land use in that corridor. We'll see on Nov 14th what makes it into the doc. Altho discussion was truncated at first by a rather stern announcement re: the agenda, as the evening continued on thru TF member discussion, beyond public comments on agenda items, many residents were able to voice their comments & concerns to the Task Force, fairly based upon what the TF members brought up, themselves. Bravo to all & thanks for all who participated,(from many neighborhoods!) TF members, residents and aldermen.

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