Developers seeking to build 16 townhomes on land at the southeast corner of Shields and Eberly avenues in Brookfield got a preliminary OK from the village’s Plan Commission at a public hearing last Thursday night. Plan Commission members voted 6-0 to recommend sending the plan, along with several conditions, to the village board for approval. If village trustees voted to approve the preliminary plan, the proposal, which is considered a Planned Unit Development, will go back to the Plan Commission for a final hearing and recommendation to the village board, which has final say over the project.
Plan Commissioners gave their preliminary OK to the plan despite several objections to aspects of the plan, which calls for four four-unit buildings facing inward toward a central courtyard. Each townhome unit would include its own attached two-car garage. Eight of those garages would be accessed from a public north/south alley that runs between Eberly and Blanchan avenues. The other eight would be accessed directly off Eberly Avenue from eight separate driveways wide enough to accommodate two cars.
Meanwhile, four nearby residents and a former Brookfield village manager all voiced their opposition to the development’s density and suggested that the developers had underestimated the current level of traffic congestion on Eberly Avenue.
The principal spokesman for the Lily May Development Group, Kevin Paloucek, said that the development, called the Courtyards of Brookfield, was a financial risk to the investors in “an area generally neglected in the recent past.”
“We think this development will serve as a buffer to Eberly Avenue and traffic, should increase property values in the area and spur development in an area neglected for a number of years,” Paloucek said. “It will also increase tax dollars [currently generated by the property] 10-fold and serve as an upscale centerpiece as a gateway to Brookfield.”
While Plan Commission members agreed that the parcel at 4307-15 Eberly Ave. was ripe for multifamily development, several had serious concerns about the plan, especially the number of driveways accessed directly from Eberly Avenue, a busy county road that serves as the border between Brookfield and LaGrange.
Commissioners Peter Newman, Karen Miller and Mark Weber specifically mentioned the eight driveways as problematic, while Plan Commission Chair P. Christopher Straka said that he agreed with Miller’s objections to the plan.
“I feel comfortable with the density, but have concerns with the curb cuts on Eberly,” Miller said. “Perhaps if you look at the design, you’d consider cutting in half the number of curb cuts on Eberly.”
In voicing his concerns about the number of driveways emptying into Eberly Avenue, Newman asked if the developers had considered creating a frontage road that would collect traffic at one point on Eberly before redirecting it to the driveways, an idea that Weber called “terrific.”
Assistant Village Manager Keith Sbiral responded that creating a frontage road wouldn’t be feasible. When Newman asked Paloucek his thoughts on the problems commissioners had with the number of driveways on Eberly Avenue, the developer responded that he didn’t know.
David Hrizak, a local developer who was introduced as the general contractor for the project, suggested that traffic, especially pedestrian traffic along Eberly, was not a big issue.
Newman dismissed that assessment, pointing out that a crossing guard is stationed at that corner during school months to usher children diagonally across Eberly toward Congress Park School, which is two blocks away.
Catherine Hernandez, a nearby resident, suggested that the developers visit the area during the morning rush when “it sometimes takes me five minutes to leave our driveway.”
Plan Commissioner H. Jeane Eineman noted that under the current code, townhomes must afford nearly 2,200 square feet of living space, while the ones proposed by the developers were 1,642 square feet. In order to bring the development in compliance with code, Eineman suggested cutting the number of units to 12.
That idea was echoed by Brookfield resident James Mann, the village’s former manager, who said that a 12-unit development would allow for greater space between the development and the single-family home to the south, still allow for a courtyard and reduce the number of units facing Eberly Avenue to four.
Paloucek stated that he had already cut the number of proposed units from 18 to 16 and that cutting the project down to 12 units wouldn’t be financially feasible.
The developers plan on marketing the units as upscale townhomes in the $355,000 price range. The three-story units would have all-brick exterior construction and include three bedrooms and 2.5 baths.
Other nearby residents protested the density of the project, saying that village shouldn’t encourage multifamily construction in an area zoned for single-family residences.
“I think this commission is acting as an advisor to the developer and being given advice on making this happen,” said resident Nancy Sudeikis. “It’s a heavily traveled area, and I don’t want to make it more heavily traveled. The development of single-family homes is happening in the area, and I think that could be happening here.”