The Brookfield Village Board won’t make a decision on a final plan for a new Brookfield Public Library until late March at the earliest after trustees decided on Jan. 11 to send the matter back to the Planning and Zoning Commission for further review.
The commission approved the library’s final development plan back in October 2015, but it imposed 14 conditions for construction, several of which library officials balked at.
“The library board has a responsibility to make sure the conditions are achievable,” said Jennifer Perry, the president of the library’s board of trustees.
Library officials have zeroed in on two of the conditions — one having to do with the design of a façade tower feature and the other regarding the implementation of sustainable technology and practices.
According to the condition imposed by the commission, the library’s architect must “reduce the size of the tower and add transparent features to it.”
While Perry said the architect has worked to “soften” the tower’s appearance, the structure is a life-safety consideration because it houses a stairway and an elevator shaft. It also provides access to the roof.
“I don’t think it’s possible to reduce the size,” Perry said.
Another condition states that the library shall add educational signage for all sustainable practices, use recycled materials for carpeting and furniture, include an electric car-charging station in the parking lot, add an oak tree to the landscape design, use local materials “whenever possible” and divert construction waste from landfills.
Library officials would like more leeway in implementing some of those conditions, particularly when it comes to using recycled materials, using local materials and diverting construction waste. They also want proof that a car charging station would be a practical addition.
The library board is also requesting a five-year window in which to implement the final plan, something the village’s attorney said on Jan. 11 would necessitate a zoning variance. The zoning code states that special use permits expire 24 months after village board approval, with the possibility of a 12-month extension.
But with the need to go to referendum to obtain enough funding to build the library — and at least two other property tax referendums hitting local ballots in 2016 — the library board would like a little more breathing room.
“We don’t want to tie the library’s hands,” Perry said. “We don’t want to have to keep going through [the village’s planning process].”
Village Manager Keith Sbiral said he would have no problem with the library’s receiving an extension of time to build a new facility.
“From a staff standpoint, we don’t have an issue with that at all,” Sbiral said Monday night.
As a result on Monday night’s decision, the Planning and Zoning Commission will consider hashing out the conditions and the proposed zoning variance for the time extension at their meeting scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. at Brookfield Village Hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave.
That means the earliest the village board would consider the matter for a final vote would be at its second meeting in March, on March 28.
By that time, residents will also know the fate of a property tax referendum placed on the March 15 ballot by the village of Brookfield, asking voters to approve a $22 million bond issue to repair residential streets.
The library has targeted November 2016 for a referendum to obtain funding for the new facility. While final figures have not been determined, it’s expected that the library will ask voters to approve a building bond issue of about $10 million.
Both village and library officials agreed to have the Planning and Zoning Commission revisit its conditions for the final library plan at a meeting between both parties on Jan. 6 at village hall.
The meeting included Perry, Library Director Kim Coughran, Trustee Dianne Duner and the library’s financial advisor. Representing the village were President Kit Ketchmark, Sbiral, Village Planner Emily Egan, a representative from the village’s bond counsel and its financial consultant, Phil McKenna.
Library officials called for the meeting, said Perry.
Part of the discussion of the meeting, he said, was just how a successful village referendum in March might affect the library’s ability to issue debt to build a new library. Because the library’s bonding authority is tied to the village, the library may need to have the Illinois General Assembly to pass special legislation allowing the village to exceed its debt ceiling.
“We wanted to clarify what our next steps are,” Perry said. “We could have an issue if we don’t get legislation passed.”
Ketchmark said the delays in approving a final plan for the library have been driven by the library’s concerns over the conditions imposed by the commission.
The village board, he said on Tuesday, has been ready to vote on the plan as approved by the commission in October.
“The board has been ready to vote on this, and I have the feeling it would be an affirmative vote,” Ketchmark said. “The library didn’t want us to do that.”
Ketchmark said he believed the remaining issues were likely to be worked out.
“I think it’s something people are working together on,” he said. “Ultimately they have to seek to convince residents [to approve a referendum for a new library]. If everybody’s on the same page, they probably have a better chance of doing that.”