Most residents living near the former Buresh Lobster House and the site’s developers had hoped for speedy village approval of a new plan for 18 townhomes and four single family homes. But they’ll have to wait until at least later this month before the village board decides whether or not to give its blessing to the plan.
Brookfield’s Board of Trustees decided to table a discussion of the plan, which was a compromise deal between residents and architect John Schiess, who have battled over a development plan for the site for over a year.
The village’s Zoning Board of Appeals on April 7 approved a number of variations in recommending the plan to village trustees. But Village President Bill Russ and some trustees were taken aback by the fact that Schiess then listed the pending development on the Northern Illinois Multiple Listing Service before it had won approval from trustees.
“I think we should table it until this matter is cleared up,” said Russ, who expressed concern that Schiess was intending to sell the Buresh property.
According to listing sheets distributed to the board by Trustee Alan Dorobiala, the property is not up for sale. Rather, the listings are for townhome units priced between $330,000 and $345,000. The development, listed with an Oak Park real estate firm, touted that the development will be ready for occupancy in the summer of 2006.
When it became clear that Schiess had ruffled the board’s feathers by listing the development prior to their approval, he attempted to speak during the public comment portion of the April 25 board meeting. Russ, however, would not recognize him.
Afterward, Schiess apologized for the gaffe and said that he would suspend the listings.
“I was going to say [to the board] we jumped the gun listing in the MLS,” Schiess said. “It was an honest mistake. We haven’t sold anything, we’ve not taken any earnest money or deposit money.”
Dan Cook, the Brookfield resident who spearheaded a campaign against earlier, more high-density versions of the development urged the board to approve the plan.
“I don’t know what happened, but don’t let a technicality ruin a deal that most residents would support,” Cook said. “I don’t want to see [the Lobster House property] sold off again.”
Trustee Michael Garvey, who will be sworn in as the village’s new president May 9, said that he wished the current board, which was familiar with the issues surrounding the development, could have discussed it.
It’s going to go to a new board whose members will have to get up to speed on it,” Garvey said.
While he wouldn’t predict the proposed development’s fate with the new board, Garvey did say that residents shouldn’t simply assume the board would approve it because of an informal agreement with the developer.
“They have to understand that can’t be the standard for the village board,” Garvey said. “It sets a dangerous precedent for the zoning code. I really respect what Dan Cook and the neighbors have done, but we have to look at it from a legal standpoint. The board can’t base it on that reason.”
Schiess said he hoped the delay by the board wouldn’t imperil approval of the development.
“We don’t think this will jeopardize the vote,” Schiess said. “We weren’t looking to undermine this board. We were just looking to test the market.”Board rejects Sunnyside, Grand plans
At the same meeting, Brookfield trustees turned aside two other plans for development in the village’s Grand Boulevard commercial district. A plan to construct six townhomes at 3727 Sunnyside Ave. died for lack of a motion to approve it. The owner of the property, Steven Campbell, said he will not return to the board with a revised plan. Instead, he has rented the one-and-a-half story frame building, which will retain its current legal, non-conforming residential use.
After dispatching Campbell’s plan without actually confronting it, the board spilt 3-3 over a Zoning Board of Appeals decision to recommend granting several zoning variances for a plan that would have brought a four-story, commercial/condo development to 3704-08 Grand Blvd. The vote effectively killed the recommendation.
Trustees Wil Brennan, Thomas Nowicki and Linda Stevanovich voted in favor of granting the variations, while Dorobiala, Garvey and Kit Ketchmark voted against it. A suggestion to vote on each of the variations separately was dismissed by Russ.
During a previous board discussion of the plan, most trustees were critical of the lack of onsite parking. Others had asked the developers if the plan could be reduced in size from 12 condo units to eight. Developers had responded that the oddly shaped lot contributed to the lack of onsite parking and that the plan was not viable at eight units.
Reached last Friday, developer Bradford Beatty said that his firm still felt the development wouldn’t work at eight units, and said a revised plan was not in the works.
“We don’t really have a plan,” Beatty said. “We’re sort of up in the air at the moment.”