A 14-unit apartment building proposed to be built at 8845 Burlington Ave. in Brookfield will head to the village board for discussion and a vote after planning and zoning commissioners voted 5-0 to recommend approving a zoning variance at a public hearing on June 24.
The recommendation came a month after commissioners had requested developer Jason Huang and his team revise the plans to more closely mirror the design guidelines outlined in the Station Area Zoning Code, which the village adopted in 2017 to encourage transit-oriented development near the Brookfield’s three Metra stations.
The proposed three-story apartment building would stand within steps of the Prairie Avenue station and replace an existing frame, two-story building that houses four apartments. The garage at the rear of the property would also be demolished as part of the new plan.
“We listened to the neighbors as well as the commissioners at the last public hearing on May 20,” said Mike Mallon, the land-use planner hired as a consultant by the developer and who served as the main spokesman for the project at both Planning and Zoning Commission hearings. “We’ve tried to address all of those concerns and to come up with a plan that we think very much meets your needs, as well as our needs, in terms of your overall [downtown] plan.”
The revised plan presented June 24 limited the number of zoning variances being sought to just one – an allowance to construct what the developer is calling a “hybrid” building that incorporates elements of both townhome and apartment building types.
Because the property at 8845 Burlington Ave. is located in the SA-6 district, general apartment buildings are not allowed, but townhomes are. The proposed building’s design suggests rows of townhomes and also provides for ground-floor units to be accessed directly.
Mallon also outlined other changes made to the plan in response to neighbor and commission concerns, which obviated the need for any further zoning variances.
While the building still includes 14 units, the design now incorporates only one- and two-bedroom apartments. The three-bedroom apartments have been eliminated and the footprint of the building has shrunk slightly.
Part of the reduced footprint resulted from the architect setting the building back 10 feet from the Burlington Avenue property line to meet the code requirement. Shrinking the building also allows the developer to provide two additional onsite vehicle parking spaces at the rear of the property.
The development, if approved will have 13 spaces versus the 11 in the original proposal. The new design also shrinks the number of long-term onsite bicycle parking spaces from 39 to 27.
Village officials are likely to change the section of the code that allows the use of bike spaces as credits for vehicle parking in order to avoid abuse of that provision in future developments. The change, however, would not impact the use of bike parking credits in this case.
In addition to eliminating the need for setback variances, increasing vehicle parking and revising some design features, the developer has also eliminated a rooftop deck amenity in response to neighbor concerns about potential noise from the building.
“The proposed use is in accordance of the zoning regulations with the exception of the building design,” Mallon said. “Secondly, the redevelopment of the property is consistent with the objectives and goals of the village’s Station Area districts, which provide for higher density, multifamily residential uses and pedestrian redevelopment in the downtown area. Lastly, the redevelopment and proposed project are provided for in your village’s comprehensive plan, as outlined in the Brookfield downtown sub-area plan.”
There were far fewer residents at the June 24 meeting than had been present in May, but those attending were still skeptical of the development’s density and its close proximity to the single-family homes located directly east.
However, apart from the building type itself, the development meets the requirements of the zoning code.
“We don’t really feel we’re overbuilding for this site,” Mallon said. “I think we’re beginning what’s going to be happening in the area, which is to probably look towards providing additional density to take advantage of the downtown area and its proximity [to the train].”
As for a complaint of potential noise coming from the development’s construction site, the developer’s attorney, Ellen Raymond, said the building would be assembled offsite in modules and delivered to Brookfield and hoisted into place by a crane before being put in place “like Legos.”
“It should be far less noisy than construction from scratch on the street,” Raymond said.