Crystal Lake City Council Extreme Ford Zoning Logic

Yesterday, McHenry County Blog reported on neighborhood objections to putting a car dealership on Route 14, right behind their homes.

Extreme Ford-Kia is moving from the Vulcan Lakes/Route 14 Tax Increment Financing district and it was pretty obvious that city council members didn’t want to lose this big sales tax generator after somehow convincing it to move out of the TIF district so other, waterfront-oriented development could replace it.

The residential neighbors complained about how tress would be replaced by light polls, how they expected additional water run-off to burden their already wet neighborhood, how a fifty-foot set-back agreed upon by six members of the current city council six years was going to be changed to an 8-foot set-back.

To see how unhappy the neighbors were after the meeting, read the top of this article.

The first question was from Councilman Dave Goss:

”Are you going to meet our stormwater ordinance?”

Sitting in the hot seat, local developer Bo Storm answered, “Absolutely.”

Later Mayor Aaron Shepley asked Director of Engineering and Building Vic Ramirez if approval of Extreme Ford’s zoning request would “make things worse.”

“They have to have final engineering. They have to meet that criteria.’”

Ramirez said there was a combined study for Banzai (Motorsports next door) and Extreme Ford.

“Whatever is required, (it has) to not make it any worse.

“If it needs additional storm water retention or volume control, those (mitigations) would have to be in place.”

“The storm water sounds like a real mess out there,” Councilman Jeff Thorsen said. “I don’t know how we can get our hands around that.”

“I think it is a huge issue re storm water,” Mayor Shepley agreed. “If you’re not doing what is required, they we’ll be looking for you to rectify those problems.”

“If (the car dealership is) lower than the adjoining property, it looks like the water would not be (flowing toward the neighbors).

“We are a 6-acre parcel of several hundred” in the watershed), the petitioner’s engineer pointed out, suggesting that any flooding would be attributable to sources other than his client’s property.

Thorsen pointed out that the Kelly Woods subdivision came after Anderson BMW Mazda Volkswagen, so it was not a similar situation.

He stressed that he had a “really big problem” with reversing the 50-foot buffer that he and five other sitting council members had voted to approve six years ago.

“Now, we’re coming back to the table and taking back what we gave. I really have a problem changing the game. I’m hard put to do that,” Thorsen said.

Councilwoman Ellen Brady Mueller asked Director of Planning and Economic Development Michelle Rentzsch about the proposed 8-foot set-back. She was told that they are “typically 8 feet.”

Former Planning and Zoning Commissioner Brett Hopkins took up where Mueller left off, asking about the 50-foot buffer.

“It was a function of what (was approved),” Rentzsch explained, pointing out it was “less than half the size of this property.”

“It had a detention pond in back,” Hopkins remembered.

Hopkins suggested this was the first time a challenge to this type of use had occurred.

“I’d like to see something more than this (8-foot set-back),” the councilman said.

Cathy Ferguson agreed.

“The buffering is an important thing to the neighbors. I would ask you to work with your neighbors.”

Shepley also asked about landscaping.

Strom replied that they had a landscape plan that calls for a continuous row of evergreens, plus 8-foot high Linden trees.

“Unlike many other car dealerships, we’ll have landscaping in the parking lot.”

Right before the vote, Hopkins asked about “the storm retention spot on the north side.”

“It’s the low spot,” Strom pointed out.

“Is it possible to more it to the (other side)?”

At this point I believe Strom suggested that the dealership could “lose a row of cars and have 33 feet of buffer.”

“That gets them very close to the original (50-feet),” Shepley said.

“I’m expected the lights to shine down on the property,” Goss explained in addition to his storm water question. One resident had said the car dealership would be like having a permanent night-light on.

Ferguson also asked that the “lights in the rear be turned off at night. When they’re on in the night time, I would ask you turn yours down, too.”

“On the lighting,” Shepley suggesting contacting “Power Conversion Products, a good company” that makes directional lighting.

He asked Rentzsch if the lighting were appropriate.

“Yes, it is,” she replied. “It’s completely cut off at the property line.”

There was also considerable discussion on the total size and number of signs, pennants, banners and balloon animals like gorillas. The balloons were taken out and with the square footage of the signs to be somewhere between the amounts of the two neighboring car dealerships.

Mueller made the motion to change to annex the property and change the zoning from urban residential to commerce. It passed 5-1, with Thorsen voting “No.” Councilman Ralph Dawson was absent.

= = = = =
The top picture shows part of the Extreme Ford property, as it looks from Route 31 before cutting down all of the trees.

The snow covered pines are what can be seen from the Chan Baldwin yard. Its edge is three steps from where an eight-foot fence will be constructed.

The head shots, from top to bottom, are Crystal Lake City Councilman Dave Goss, Director of Engineering and Building Vic Ramirez, Councilman Jeff Throsen, Councilwoman Ellen Brady Mueller, Councilman Brett Hopkins, Councilwoman Cathy Ferguson, Mayor Aaron Shepley and Director of Planning and Economic Development Michelle Rentzsch. All photos were taken previously.

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