About us
Lombard News
Villa Park News
Publisher's Desk
Speak Out
Police Blotters
Coming Events
Out and About
On The Beat

Hotel issue to go before village board in July

Residents, commissioners question
if proposal fits Comprehensive Plan

By Jane Charmelo
The Lombard Commission on Monday, June 11, voted unanimously to approve plans for a 96-room Hilton Tru Hotel, after hearing from the developers and residents on several occasions at a public hearing that began in April and continued in May.
Neighbors have objected to the four-story project, citing concerns over noise, light and other pollution; a potential impact on property values; traffic issues; stormwater management; and strangers potentially walking around their neighborhoods, to name a few.
Previously, at the May 21 continuance of the public hearing, the commission heard from resident Suzan Kramer, who related that residents are in “vehement opposition” to the plan, and the commission “cannot mitigate the significant negative impact on the surrounding residential properties.”
She believes the development is “unable to meet the [zoning] standards.”
Kramer further said residents are concerned about the “transient” nature of hotel occupants, followed by the potential effect on property values.
Resident George Bedard commented, “I find it very inappropriate for this thing to go ahead,” adding, “The townhouses that were approved was a great buffer to the residential [area].”
“There are other properties that are better suited for this,” he added.
Property owner Sohail A. Shakir/RSS Homes LLC in 2016 had proposed to build 26 townhomes at the location.
Jennifer Ganser, assistant director of Community Development, stated that resident concerns are being addressed, including fencing and landscaping that will serve as a buffer to abutting properties, and moving the trash dumpster to the northwest corner of the property.
Traffic issues have been examined through a study, and in April consultant Javier Millan said the study estimates there are 16,100 vehicles traveling on 22nd Street, with a capacity of 36,800 vehicles a day.
Ganser also noted that regarding stormwater removal, the final plan will be subject to review during the permit process, and that the design moves water away from abutting properties, toward 22nd Street.
Resident Brian O’Connor said he enjoys a low-crime area, but believes “this hotel is being dropped right in the middle of our community.”
Community Development Director Bill Heniff responded that the village has 10 hotels with 1,721 rooms, many within the area in question, so “your testimony says you’re a low-crime neighborhood.”
O’Connor countered that the other hotels are surrounded by commercial establishments, and this proposal is “setting a precedent” for future developments in residential areas.
Heniff disagreed, saying, “Each case has to be looked at, at its own merit.”
The June 11 meeting was a time for discussion among commission members, with Martin Burke asking how to weigh comments from residents who feared their property values would be diminished.
“How should the Plan Commission judge that testimony?” he inquired, adding that there has been no evidence presented, such as statistics, to back up the claims.
“The Plan Commission can judge that testimony as opinion based on that person’s experience,” Ganser responded.
Burke also noted a disagreement about several of the standards.
“Staff finds that all the standards for the rezoning for conditional use and the variance have been met,” Ganser said.
Burke also wanted to know how the hotel plan fits in with the village’s Comprehensive Plan for usage of that area.
Previously, Heniff had explained that the rezoning request is from an R4 Limited General Residents District to an O Office District, and that in 1998, the plan designated the property as Community Commercial. In 2014, it was changed to Office.
“The Comprehensive Plan is a vision document,” the director said, adding that the petition to build a hotel “would be consistent with the overall Comprehensive Plan.”
Heniff also noted that proposals are not automatically permitted “by right,” which is the reason to hold public hearings and allow the commission to “weigh the decision accordingly.”
At the start of the meeting, Ganser had noted that three documents were presented to the commission earlier in the day; a formal objection by O’Connor, another citing how residents are opposing a car wash elsewhere and the third, which shows results of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request regarding crime in the area.
Mark Sargis, an attorney who represented neighbors at the beginning of the public hearing process, told the commission that since that new FOIA information had just been introduced, he wanted to elaborate before the commission, acknowledging that the commission would have discretion to allow him to speak.
Commission Chair Donald Ryan, however, responded that the information is “nothing that I believe is necessary to be put into the public record.”
“If you don’t know what it is yet, how can you make that decision, or determination?” Sargis asked.
Ryan said the information will be forwarded to the village board for their further consideration.
When Sargis began to object, Ryan said, “You’ve had your time, and believe me, we’ve given you plenty. Please sit down.”
Sargis then told the commission, “Staff had information from the police chief and did not make it part of this hearing,” adding that he believes this is “a procedural issue that is fundamentally unfair and we’ll take that up as we need to.”
It is expected that the issue will come before the Lombard Board of Trustees at their July meeting.

Annual Lombard fireworks at Madison Meadow July 4

The Village of Lombard will be hosting a fireworks display on Wednesday, July 4, at Madison Meadow park, at approximately 9:30 p.m., or once the sky is completely dark. Free shuttle bus transportation to and from designated parking locations will be provided.
Shuttle buses will pick up and drop off event goers beginning at 7 p.m. from three locations: Madison School, 150 W. Madison St., Pleasant Lane School, 401 N. Main St. and Glenbard East High School, 1014 S. Main St. Pick-ups from these locations will go directly to the Madison Meadow park.
Bus locations will be identified with banners and exact pick up and drop off locations will be marked with signs. A handicap-accessible bus will also be available upon request at the pickup locations.
The Lombard Police Department would like to remind residents and visitors to the event to be conscious of temporary “No Parking” signs. The temporary parking restrictions are necessary to ensure that spectators are able to enter and exit the Madison Meadow park area with minimum delay or hazard, and to promote the quick clearing of both vehicular and pedestrian congestion within a short time after the display ends. Violators will be towed at their expense. Handicapped parking will be available in the lot located off of Wilson Avenue, at the south east corner of the park.
Members of the Lombard Police Department will be stationed at strategic intersections to assist in traffic and crowd control. The police department will vigorously enforce all state and local laws – in particular the use of firecrackers and consumption of alcohol in the park. The fire department will post a rescue ambulance and one of its fire trucks inside the park to handle injuries or fire situations.
For details including parking and event maps, visit the village’s website at www.VillageofLombard.org/FourthofJuly.

Sewer improvements to close Edson/Wilson starting June 25

Construction to improve a sanitary sewer manhole will require the temporary complete closure of the Edson and Wilson Avenue intersection, one block east of Finley Road, for approximately four weeks beginning June 25.
Posted detours will be in place. The completion of the project and subsequent reopening of the intersection is anticipated for the week of Aug. 6, depending on weather.
The objective of the work is to alleviate sewer odors and reduce corrosion within the structure. The project is designed to eliminate odorous and corrosive gases by using the sewage’s own energy to oxidize odorous gases. This process will decrease unpleasant odors and will help to extend the life of the improved infrastructure.
Traffic will not be allowed through the intersection during construction. Residents along Wilson Avenue and on Edson Avenue will maintain access to their driveways and will receive mailed notification of the project details. Postal and garbage service will not be adversely affected, however some delay to the regular schedule may occur. PACE bus service will be rerouted.
Once the manhole repair is completed, the intersection will be kept closed for a short period to allow village crews to patch removed portions of pavement. After that work is completed, the Edson/Wilson intersection will reopen.
For maps, videos, and more information visit villageoflombard.org/manholeaerator. To sign up for email alerts and updates regarding this project, visit villageoflombard./notifyme.

Plum Library board moves forward with basement plan

IGA over parking spots may be future obstacle
By Jane Charmelo
The new Helen Plum Library Board has decided to add a basement to the roughly 50,000-square-foot facility.
At the Tuesday, June 12, board meeting, board President Jason Brandt said the board has agreed that adding a basement for roughly $1.5 million is a practical move. He stated that the board has already instructed the architect to factor in the addition to construction plans.
Library Director Barb Kruser said there is nearly $1 million in a special reserve fund and she expects just under $2 million that can also be used toward funding the basement, bringing the total for the building project up to $23 million from $21.5 million.
Brandt said adding the basement will provide storage space but also would house the mechanical systems, versus the option of placing them on the roof of the new building—creating the potential for noise pollution and exposure to the elements, among other drawbacks.
Library spokesperson Sue Wilsey said that once the basement plan is added and cost estimates are in, there will be “an opportunity to confirm the design, once the drawings are completed.”
While the architect had previously estimated the overall project to be 51,000 square feet, Wilsey said the figure is closer to 50,000 square feet, including the basement.
An option to add 3,000 square feet, at a cost of $1.5 million, is not on the table at this point, Wilsey and Kruser noted, nor is underground parking.
The main discussion by the board focused on a timeline for presenting the building design to the Plan Commission, a necessary step before approaching the Lombard Village Board for consideration and final approval of the new construction.
Kruser said she anticipates construction estimates to be finalized in September—before bonds can be issued to pay for the project.
At the same time, the board agreed that holding community meetings and a public hearing will inform the public as to what plans the library has for the new space.
“People haven’t known for so long what we’ve been doing,” commented board member Kristen Aasmundstad Walsh.
Board member Gary Brenniman said he hopes voters who approved the tax rate increase will continue to support the library, or “we won’t get the new library through the Plan Commission and village board.”
“We need to get these people [voters] behind us,” he said.
“We need a new library,” Brenniman continued, citing deteriorating conditions within the current building.
“Let’s get the show on the road,” commented board member Virginia Carlson.
Also ahead for discussion is the need for increased parking, which Wilsey and Kruser said will be discussed with library neighbors.
However, also at issue are just under 30 parking spaces in the Maple Street lot between the Victorian Cottage Museum and Calvary Episcopal Church, where there is commuter parking, as well as library employee, Calvary Episcopal Church and Lombard Historical Society parking.
According to Lombard Village Manager Scott Niehaus, the library owns the lot, and had allowed the village to use the spaces for commuter parking.
He related that an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) was reached with the library around 2004 that should a referendum pass to build a new library, those commuter spaces would revert back to the library—spaces officials say will be needed to meet parking code requirements for the new library.
According to village figures, with the current library construction plan, there are 10 dedicated employee spaces in the lot in question and 44 library spaces across the street at the Edward-Elmhurst medical building. To comply with village code of three parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of building space, the village estimates that at 51,000 square feet, the library will need a total of just over 150 parking spaces, leaving the library roughly 102 spaces short.
That is not including 41 Maple Street and Park Avenue non-dedicated spaces, according to village figures.
Niehaus mentioned that the wording in the agreement states, “In the event that the library passes a referendum for the funding of a new library building,” the agreement with the village would terminate and the spaces would go back to the library.
However, the village manager said, the wording of the 2016 referendum question presented to voters asked for a tax rate increase to the library district “for any purpose of said Library District”—in other words, not specifically to build a new library.
Niehaus said village and library officials have been in discussions, and currently, “That’s where we have a difference of interpretation” over the agreement.
Wilsey countered that library officials indicated to voters how the proposed tax rate increase, if approved, was intended to pay for a new library facility.
“We feel we made it extraordinarily clear” about the referendum’s intent, she reiterated, adding that more parking will be needed with the expanded library, and that non-dedicated parking is not counted toward the required number of spaces.
“There has been some question raised by the village about this part of the agreement,” Brandt stated. “The library board feels that the intent and wording of the agreement is very clear, and had no reason to anticipate that this IGA would be called into question.”
“It is the library board’s expectation that the village will honor the IGA agreement, supporting the voice of the Lombard residents for a new library,” he added.
Kruser estimated it will likely be November before the library presents its construction plans before the Plan Commission.
According to Wilsey, the most recent design plans do not infringe upon Lombard Park District air rights or property; she said since the referendum was first announced and initial designs were drawn up, there have been roughly nine revisions.
“We want to have a solid design moving forward,” Kruser said.
For more information, visit www.helenplum.org.

Public input on watershed plan online or at open meeting

Area includes parts of Lombard, Villa Park, unincorporated areas

The DuPage County Stormwater Management Planning Committee voted to open the public comment period for the draft Sugar Creek Watershed Plan. The 30-day public comment period is open now through July 12.
The plan outlines projects that may improve flood control throughout the Sugar Creek Watershed, which includes portions of Lombard, Villa Park and Elmhurst, as well as unincorporated DuPage County.
DuPage County Stormwater Management will also hold a public meeting to discuss the draft watershed plan on Wednesday, June 27 from 5 - 6:30 p.m. at Villa Park’s Village Hall, 20 S. Ardmore Ave.
The draft watershed plan is available online at dupageco.org/EDP/Stormwater_Management/57608. In addition, hard copies are available for review at DuPage County’s Administration Building, 421 N. County Farm Road, Wheaton, during normal business hours from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Comments on the draft watershed plan must be submitted in writing by end of day on July 12. Comments may be submitted via email to vonnahme@dupageco.org or by U. S. mail to Chris Vonnahme, c/o Department of Stormwater Management, 421 North County Farm Rd., Wheaton, IL 60187.

48th District to get road improvements

State Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) on June 11 announced that more than $103 million of an $11.05 billion statewide road and bridge improvement program will be spent on projects in the 48th Legislative House District.
The projects were announced recently as part of the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) six-year Proposed Highway Improvement Program for Fiscal Years 2019-24.
“Nearly every community in the 48th District will benefit from these improvements over the next six years,” said Breen. “Keeping our infrastructure in good condition not only provides safety to our residents, but also helps the economy thrive by providing good-paying jobs to Illinois’ work force.”
District 48 projects included in IDOT’s six-year program include:
• $240,000 for bridge deck overlay and bridge joint repair on Ogden Avenue at St. Joseph Creek in Lisle.
• $5,890,000 for resurfacing and ADA improvements on Ogden Avenue from Ivanhoe Avenue to east of IL 83 in Lisle, Downers Grove, Westmont, Clarendon Hills and Hinsdale.
• $2,465,000 for resurfacing and ADA improvements on IL 53 from St. Charles Road to Bryant Avenue in Lombard and Glen Ellyn.
• $1,500,000 for channelization and traffic signal installation on IL 53 at Parkview Boulevard and Surrey Lane in Glen Ellyn
• $485,000 for resurfacing and ADA improvements on IL 53 from Bryant Avenue to south of Pershing Avenue in Glen Ellyn.
• $3,720,000 for resurfacing and ADA improvements on IL 53 from south of Pershing Avenue to south of I-88 in Glen Ellyn, Downers Grove and Lisle.
• $945,000 for resurfacing and ADA improvements on IL 53 from south of I-88 to Short Street in Lisle.
• $1,105,000 for resurfacing and ADA improvements on IL 53 from Short Street to 59th Street in Lisle.
• $1,401,000 for resurfacing, ADA improvements and a railroad flagger on IL 56 from Naperville Road to IL 53 in Wheaton.
• $25,145,000 for road and intersection reconstruction, bridge rehabilitation, ADA improvements, additional lanes, noise barriers and a retaining wall on IL 56 west of IL 53 to west of I-355 and at IL 53 in Downers Grove.
• $5,300,000 for land acquisition, utility adjustment and construction engineering on IL 56 west of IL 53 to west of I-355 and at IL 53 in Downers Grove.
• $182,000 for bridge deck repairs and bridge deck water proofing on IL 56 at I-355 in Downers Grove.
• $1,300,000 for resurfacing, ADA improvements and ramp repair on IL 56 from Finley Road to Highland Avenue and the ramps at Highland Avenue in Downers Grove.
• $1,900,000 for resurfacing and ADA improvements on IL 56 from Fairfield Avenue to 22nd Street in Oak Brook and Lombard
• $70,000 for resurfacing and ADA improvements on IL 56 from Bob-O-Link Road to Briarcliff Road in Lombard.
Based on current funding levels, the FY 2019-2024 Proposed Highway Improvement Program aims to improve a total of 1,945 miles of road and 525 bridges maintained by the state. The multi-year program also includes funding for upgrades to more than 750 miles of local roads and 922,933 square feet of local bridges.
Upon announcing the statewide infrastructure plan, Gov. Bruce Rauner said, “Illinois is a transportation hub for the nation, facilitating commerce from coast to coast. By investing in that infrastructure and regularly repairing and upgrading our roads, we preserve a vital resource that brings jobs and economic opportunity to our state, and ensures roads are safe for Illinois families.”