The Strange Case of 63rd and Leonard: Part 2

The residents of Hobsons Triangle may be in two land fights. Do they even know it?

Why would Bradford 63rd LLC pursue a development at 63rd and Leonard that fits almost none of the zoning ordinance requirements? Why would residents be subjected to almost a year of uncertainty?

Well, residents of Hobson’s Triangle, I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is you’re not alone.  A neighborhood west of Fairview Village is going through the same kind of uncertainty and frustration as you are as a development gets strung out again and again. The bad news is, there is no other good news.

Take a look at page 25 of Woodridge’s Comprehensive Use Plan. Yeah, they have an 2007 updated plan, so they know exactly what they want to do and where they want to do it.

And what they exactly want to do is use that empty property between Hobsons Triangle and I-355 for Community Commercial zoned purposes.

On the south side of 63rd Woodridge has designated open land for water retention/detention next to their high density commercial development. No such luck for the north side.

From Woodridge’s Zoning Ordinance:

Community Commercial– areas that provide consumer goods and services for comparison shopping and serve Village residents and the broader region.

I don’t know if Hobsons Triangle know they are actually fighting two communities here.

I doubt Woodridge has sent any information out as to their plans for the area to those residents or they would have been even more stressed, but Woodridge have made it known to developers that this area is ready to go: Bradford Real Estate/63rd LLC already knows it.

So while our fellow residents are being interminably distracted by Downers Grove, they are about to be blindsided by Woodridge.

So what might go on there? Smart money thinks Caputo’s Fresh Market is a good guess. Caputo’s owns the property, and has six other grocery stores. Like the Chase Bank DG wants to allow already having a Chase Bank in the Dominick’s across the street and a couple more right there, there’s two other full grocery stores across the street. That will allow for comparison shopping alright- along with the car traffic turning onto and off of 63rd that comes with it, and the increased headache of traffic enforcement and accidents. It seems a shame there’s no room for a grocery store in downtown DG where we are busy building (and selling) luxury condos, yet we have room for three or more if we’d just get rid of these pesky residents who want to keep their neighborhood for residents.

I have no idea of the elevations and slopes that will result from this empty area being paved over, and how the resulting stormwater run-off will effect the neighborhood.

On Leonard and 63rd, Bradford worked with staff for three or four months before coming before the Plan Commission with their request. At that PC meeting, Bradford asked for a continuance based on an inaccurate traffic study. That request was denied by the Plan Commission, but was allowed nine months later by council. What’s up with that? Bradford’s John Schoditsch said on June 24th the traffic plan was from 1987(!). Yeah, probably wildly inaccurate. How did that slip by in the months of preliminary meetings with staff?

Bradford’s John Schoditsch stated on record that Caputo’s is going in on the Woodward property shown at the top. Thats’ why they want the commercial zoning-jumping in ahead of the big grocery store. Thanks for the heads up on motive John. And thanks again for being a good listener Marge Earl. And sorry residents of Hobsons Triangle.

That would leave the residents of Hobson’s Triangle with a true quandary: watch the residential property market value go down the toilet (taxes probably won’t reflect that), or sell ASAP to the nearest developer. Or maybe fight a two front war, where one front is almost unwinnable (Woodridge), and the other (DG) involves the developer out-waiting resistance (this is a continued neighborhood impression, despite council’s assurances to the contrary). Or, probably, do what you can to get fences, lighting control, noise guarantees on the Woodridge front, and fight like hell to keep your front door to 63rd Street residential.

I had thought that for a commercial development, this one is marginal to begin with. Banks don’t generate sales tax revenue, why would DG want yet another taking up space? And why not R-4, R-5, or R-5A higher density housing facing 63rd, but with access from Leonard and Jane? Residents even said that would be preferable. Or if Bradford Real Estate can’t make a go of it, sell the properties to a willing buyer. It is not the villages responsibility to provide public guarantees of highest return on private speculation. If Bradford Real Estate made a mistake for their client putting money into property that can’t be used as they envision, that’s why they call it speculative. Don’t make the mistake again.

But it appears residents never were informed of the real deal; it’s possible DG never knew. Woodridge is developing their corner, and commercial developers need access. Homes right on 63rd aren’t worth as much as homes on a quiet street, and if Bradford Real Estate/63rd LLC can wedge into the section of 63rd between Janes and Leonard, then there’s only a couple homes on the west side of Leonard standing in the way of a contiguous commercial strip. And from there only a hop and skip to connect to Belmont. Some call it progress. Some say 63rd was meant as a commercial corridor. I doubt if the residents of Hobsons Triangle share that view, but hey, they only live there.

It’s not like there is no place else in the village that can be developed. There are empty or neglected spaces on Ogden, on 75th, existing space on 63rd, there will be space along Belmont by the coming underpass, there are plenty of areas where commercial development doesn’t force itself on residents; where larger concerns, larger groups, larger money are welcome. Maybe the folks that live on the north side of 63rd between Woodward and Belmont need a heads up; 63rd is now being called a commercial corridor, you’re next.

This item has been delayed yet again and scheduled for the September Plan Commission meeting. Residents of Hobsons Triangle who attend to protest can also celebrate their one year anniversary of trying to keep their neighborhood a neighborhood.

And yet again, council member Martin Tully used part of his comment time to “get on his soap box” (his words) to make the valid point that a current Comprehensive Plan would have been a big help here in sorting out what village expectations are for this area.

Last time I checked, there is a valid, approved, in effect Comprehensive Plan in the DG Library. Approved in the 1960’s by council, it has never been voted down, rejected, nullified, or invalidated, and it is still a valid document. We need an updated current Comprehensive Plan for all the reasons Tully cites. Woodridge’s 2005 Comp Plan updated their 1995 Plan. They have a plan and they are executing it. We don’t, and we aren’t, and residents are suffering mental distress, wondering Why, why is our village doing this to us? in at least two areas of the village as a direct result.

In the meantime, council is cautiously dancing around Fairview Village wanting to move west across Fairview, and commercial development wanting to move north and east across 63rd and Leonard.

Council cautions that everyone gets the same consideration, that they are mindful of the rights of everyone. So far, at least two neighborhoods, from their firsthand experience, might disagree.


6 Responses to “The Strange Case of 63rd and Leonard: Part 2”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Listen to the audio and one council member goes on about a gazebo allows this to happen. Do you know what the connection is?

  2. markthoman Says:

    Another one I watched while going through the C&D issue. The petitioner (and School board 58 member) Marshall Schmitt purchased the property next door to his house, and wanted build a gazebo on his property. The plan looked pretty nice. The problem was the village had passed a revision to the muni codes to prevent just accessory structures from being built on a property that does not also have a primary residence on it. The Plan Commissions initial response was that the village code was clear on the matter.

    His attorney, Jim Russ Jr. filed a permit to change the code so that it would allow his client to build the structure. He even wrote the amended ordinances. That was pretty novel; trying to change the muni code via the petitioning process. The problem is the ordinance change petition would have gutted the intent of the fairly new ordinance.

    The net result was staff met with him, and they worked out a change that would allow the gazebo, but preserve the intent of the changed ordinance.

    I have trouble understanding why a singular gazebo experience with a drawn out solution to a bizarre problem can now be used as a reason to allow remanding a completely different issue with completely different circumstances.

  3. Red Fred Says:

    Kill the plan there, and build it across the street. What is the matter with these guys? Do they get off torturing residents like this? They don’t have any say over cell towers, or retirement homes or drive thrus. No no can’t upset anyone except the fools who elected us and pay the price.

  4. DGresident Says:

    I drove by this site yesterday. The houses along 63rd at Leonard are by no means “historical”. In any neighborhood they would be considered knock down status. To boot, they are along a Major arterial, spitting distance from a major tollway interchange. Sounds like commercial to me. Remember, when these lots were zoned resi. there was no tollway and 63rd had much less traffic. Maybe that’s why the homes have become somewhat run down. As a resident, I would find new commercial development along 63rd acceptable, specifically more acceptable than the embarrassing eye sores dotting the entrance to our Village we have now. And absolutely no one is going to redevelop as residential at that location. I say BUILD IT before Woodridge steals our opportunity and moves our tenants a few feet to the west.

  5. markthoman Says:

    The future existence of I-355 was known since the early 1960’s when most of the land, particularly in DuPage County, was purchased and set aside.

    2440 63rd St is currently a rental property on a half acre lot that is pretty funky looking. The rest seem well kept, but nothing fancy. For the most part, this is a neighborhood of modest, middle income homes. I would not call them run down.

    The PC voted unanimously then to send a negative recommendation to council. There has been no change to the proposed development besides Starbucks taking a hike. Where does this lead? If the petitioner fumbled the initial presentation so badly, why would anyone have any confidence they should be allowed to proceed?

    How about “Go back to the drawing boards, fellas, and come back when you have a project that meets the minimum acceptable requirements.”

  6. DGDood Says:

    Historical? Knock down status? Embarrassing eyesores? What the tripped that? They’re not good enough to live here with you? Wow.

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