The vote was 5-1 for the Route 31 zoning of Extreme Ford-Kia Tuesday night, with Council Jeff Thorsen voting “No.”
You could just see the sales tax dollars being counted as council members insisted on some changes they thought would somewhat pacify the out of city neighbors who attended en mass.
The annexation and re-zoning was from urban residential to commerce. There were variances galore:
No sidewalks, 12 2/3 foot setback from the road, rather than 20-foot from all roadways, no parkway trees every 35-50 feet
Before the vote, Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley pointed out that car dealerships were prized city trophies (not his words, mine), that if the council didn’t provide the extraordinary majority needed, car dealer Carl Myers could apply to the McHenry County Board for zoning.
Seemed like a hollow threat to me, consider that how the Burton’s Bridge folks just down Route 176 and in the same county board district trashed two proposals, one for a gravel pit and one for a strip mall.
But, Shepley got the five votes needed.
“It’ didn’t matter that we were here,” one man shouted as he got up to leave after the disappointing vote.
“If you can’t leave in a respectful manner, we’ll have someone escort you,” Shepley said.
“We’re not voters,” a woman said loudly.
As I looked around, I saw Police Chief Dave Lindner standing at the rear door.
Homeowners, who are on two sides of the property across from McDonald’s, if I understood the location, gave graphic and compelling testimony.
He had picked the home after leaving Crystal Lake for a job in New Jersey and returning five years ago.
“It’s a great place to raise a family,” he testified.
“We ask you as good neighbors to practice the Golden Rule. Do to us as you would do unto yourself.”
He asked if council members would vote for this if it were next to their properties, “eleven feet from your property to the very back of your backyard.”
Baldwin explained that he had been in council chambers six years ago when a large part of the property on Route 31 had been zoned light retail office with a liquor store.
“Council said there should be a green buffer of 50 feet.”
Six of the seven council members were in office when that occurred.
“City staff said that was for a different use,” he continued. “I agree with that,” he added in something of an understatement.
All of this is zoned residential on the (zoning maps),” he said in his soft-spoken manner said.
Commenting on the proposal’s assertion that there will be no adverse affect on the neighbors’ homes, he said, “I think a child could tell you otherwise.”
“It could come across as a reverse Robin Hood.”
“Forty to fifty foot pine trees will be gone,” he said. “We can’t see Route 31,” he emphasized showing pictures taken from his back yard.
“Light will come in through people’s windows,” Baldwin concluded.
Baldwin’s son James drove in from Ball State, where he is studying for a master’s degree in city planning. He pointed out that a petition from the neighbors would require a two-thirds vote. He went on to cite parts of the Planned Unit Development ordinance that he thought the petitioner had not met.
“The intent is to separate uses. This is not a separation of uses.”
As I entered the meeting late, Nunda Township Supervisor John Heisler was telling of the big pipe that goes under Route 31 to a ditch to drain the east side of the road.
Later Gary Kirchoff of Marietta Drive told more of the large tunnel under Route 31 with “storm gates over by the Honda dealer.
“The saturation is unbelievable in this area.”
He went on to explain how much water his sump pump pumps, running every 8 seconds.
“463,000 gallons a week, 23.5 million gallons a year.
“This has been going on for 9 years, folks. It’s ridiculous to propose this kind of property in this area.
“They say they are going to collect the water from their site.
“Replace that with cement, I’ll guarantee they’re not going to college all that run-off. Water stagnates,” he continued.
“I can’t even tell you how many cigarette butts wash up on my property. Radiator caps, McDonald’s cups.
“They mentioned heaving landscaping…A fence isn’t going to stop the light from coming into the community. With QuickLube, there’ll be a lot of contaminated water.
“All of us have drinking water that stands to be contaminated, if they aren’t now.
Krichoff’s wife said she had counted the lights at Extreme Ford’s current location on Route 14. She got to 153.
“They’re not telling you how many lights will light up the neighborhood.
“My septic field is in my back of my house. That water will go right into my yard. What’s that going to do to my septic field?” she asked.
“Would this gentleman here, would he live in the same neighborhood as his car dealership?” another neighbor asked the car dealer.
“It’s going to be like having a nightlight on all night long,” said elementary school principal Jo Samburgee (probably not spelled correctly).
“What’s best for the children?” she asked the council.
“My front yard is melting,” Robert Horwick (again probably misspelled) testified. “I’ve got cesspools of water,” mentioned West Nile mosquitos.
“I pick up thousands and thousands of cigarette butts, bottle caps. I don’t get paid to pick up cigarette butts in my yard.
“Those lights on all night. Would you like that in your back yard?”
He also mentioned his sump pump’s running “every 3.5 seconds.”
“And, when was the last time it rained?”
Richard Herd (still another misspelled last name?) also spoke about water.
“We’ve got so much impervious. When you’ve got the whole block from Citgo down, that’s a whole lot of water there.
“Honda doesn’t have enough (retention capacity). McDonald’s, Burger King has none. We have a world of water coming down in those homes.
“This could not have been their first choice of putting a Ford dealership.”
The neighbor told of six buses a day coming in and out of his Orchard Heights subdivision.
He told how his subdivision “used to be a test track for Viking Dodge.
“When you look at the lighting diagram, which we don’t have, that’s an awful lot of candlepower.
“The concrete is a reflector at Honda. You could perform surgery it’s so bright.”
“We’re asking for a monetary disaster (in depressed home value) and a traffic disaster,” he concluded.
“Since we are a community of well and septic, we expect this would be well and septic,” Susan Payanys, another Marietta Drive resident, explained.
“There’s no concern. They really don’t have any concern for our community,” she said, referring to Extreme Ford’s owner.
“It doesn’t have the character of a house,” she continued. “It looks more like a gas station.”
“There’s no picture of the back of this place,” she noted.
The final neighbor to speak was Chuck Lempford (guess I spelled his name wrong, too).
“My concern is the rush for judgment. I fell like we’re being forced to make a decision real quick. If we make a bad decision now, it’ll be mighty difficult to reverse.
Don’t do something you’re going to regret without real due diligence.
Tomorrow, the council’s efforts to mollify the neighbors.