The Village’s planning and zoning commission finished its public conversation for a proposed single family development called Arbor Trails next to Benedictine University. The commission approved the preliminary request, and it will move to the village board next month.
In January K. Hovnanian Homes made an informal presentation on Arbor Trails to interested community members. The 60-acre plot, owned by Meijer, would support 163 single-family homes, a park, water detention and nature areas, and connection to the Green Trails neighborhood to the south.
Home reps estimate a fully occupied development would yield $1.5 million in annual property tax revenue.
Click here for a quick rundown of the project. During the public hearing, residents and commissioners expressed some concern over the development’s water retention areas, and their potential effects on nearby homes. The majority of the discussion was dedicated to questions on traffic, plan details, and how the development would coincide with its collegiate neighbor.
Scott Barrenbrugge land acquisition manager for K. Hovnanian Homes, said no significant changes were made to the plan submitted last month, though the builders did make some minor “technical” changes based on village staff feedback. They also continued conversations with a handful of Green Trails neighbors, as well as Benedictine University.
Neighbors sound water detention concerns
No residents outright opposed the project during the planning and zoning commission’s sessions.
Green Trails resident Mark Hayford said that single-family development was “something a lot of people have been looking for… in this property.” Hayford was one of a handful of residents living directly to the south of the property on Ivy Drive who wanted to know how the build-out would affect their own homes.
Their largest concern was whether the development’s detention ponds could withstand more torrential rainfall.
Hayford said last month he already experiences issues with water in his basement during hard rains, and felt a detention pond proposed near his lot may cause issues.
“It seems like we’ve had many 100-year storms,” he noted.
Detention ponds will sit on the north and south edges of the property. The ponds would result in a 91 percent reduction in storm water retention to the south, and rougly 31 percent to the northwest, according to Dwayne Gillain of V3 Companies in Woodridge. The company performs engineering, surveying and environmental science consultation. Should water levels exceed the designated high water level, Barrenbrugge said it would funnel into the wetland area. No new water will enter the sewer system, he said.
Barrenbrugge and an engineer from V3 Companies met with the concerned Ivy Drive residents last month to stake out the proposed pond behind their homes and answer questions.
“The residents who spoke up at the first meeting actually weren’t asking for explicit changes to the plan,” explained Barrenbrugge, though developers did add some additional landscaping to serve as a buffer for Ivy Drive residents.
A few of these residents spoke again at Wednesday’s meeting, and felt their questions were answered. They are still asking developers to consider lowering the designated high water level.
Barrenbrugge said they would need time to examine whether the water level can be dropped.
Village planner Josh Potter, however, said that reviews of the detention water plans “substantially meet” both Village and DuPage County storm water requirements.
In addition to water levels, a few of these residents were also concerned about the proximity of the walking trails to their yards, and the impact of new foot traffic on Green Trails paths.
The plan currently includes a connection to Green Trails, which will be dependant upon an agreement with the Green Trails Improvement Association. Barrenbrugge said developers met with GTIA last week to discuss the connection, and expect to hear a definite response within 30 days.
The proposed connection includes some landscaping and a forked path to make a “smoother transition” to Green Trails. If GTIA does not approve the agreement, Barrenbrugge said Arbor Trails would terminate that path and just maintain the pedestrian connection point at Benedictine Parkway.
One Ivy Drive resident suggested the Arbor Trails path should cut off as far as possible from the Green Trails path if GTIA does not approve the connection.
“If there can’t be an arrangement… I don’t think we want the additional traffic on the trails,” said Robert Klaeren.
A couple residents to the north of Maple Avenue raised concern about traffic last month. They noted current difficulties with making eastbound turns onto the road during peak hours.
Traffic studies performed by V3 Companies estimate a 1 percent increase in annual traffic growth. The developers are proposing the addition of a right-turn lane at Maple Avenue and Benedictine Parkway to alleviate potential issues at this intersection.
Barrenbrugge said no other residents have reached out with concerns in the past month.
What commissioners had to say
Last month commissioners echoed the concerns of residents, particularly in water retention. They also made several suggestions to the layout of the plots, including breaking up a long strip of homes on the eastern portion of the property.
Barrenbrugge said most changes made to the developers’ plan in the last month were of technical nature, and based on village staff recommendations, including:
- Reduction in number of storm sewers that fell in side yards, and increased the buffer zone between these homes to 15 feet
- Moved water mains from underneath sidewalk
- Added a pedestrian connection to Maple Avenue
- Saving additional trees on the eastern side of the property
This month, the commision’s focus was on aesthetic concerns.
A few commissioners felt lot sizes weren’t large enough for the homes they will accommodate, though attorney Russ Whitaker pointed out during presentations that the proposed density of Arbor Trails will be lower than Peach Creek, Tyrnbury of Green Trails and Surrey Ridge developments.
Developers reviewed their proposed list of exterior building materials on Wednesday. Siding on smaller lots may be vinyl clapboard, shake siding or engineered wood; larger lots may use clapboard, shake, and engineered wood.
Chairman Charles Rego suggested developers reconsider the use of vinyl siding for more attractive materials.
Last month commissioners made several suggestions to “break up” the line of homes along the east edge of the development, next to Benedictine University. Barrenbrugge explained the developer’s anti-monotony standards, to prevent houses of the same style from popping up adjacent from each other, would create a unique layout from the street view.
“We have some straight roads here, but to us this is Main Street U.S.A.,” Barrenbrugge acknowledged.
Developers also added clusters of trees in “key lots” along the parkway.
A standard landscape package will spruce up streetscapes. The package, which has not yet been finalized, would likely include a mix of large shrubs, plant beds and grasses, and at least one tree per front yard.
Commissioners asked what types of fencing would be allowed in the development. While homes on the outer perimeter, particularly the north and east edges, will come equipped with a uniform fence, decorative fences are allowed on interior properties. Chain link and cyclone-style fences will not be permitted.
During Wednesday’s portion of public hearing, Chairman Charles Rego asked the developers if they had considered installing buried utility lines.
Barrenbrugge said in addition to the cost of burying lines, the current utilities serve other properties. Burying the lines would require some downtime for current customers.
He said it was something developers would consider, “but didn’t think it was practical or necessary at this time.”
Russ Whitaker warned this type of addition might translate to higher home prices.
“All of these things add up very quickly and affect the viability of the development,” he said. “This is a big step, and we need to be careful to try not to push so much that the costs become extraordinary.”
Potter added that buried lines are a “large undertaking,” and would require analysis of costs, infrastructure, easements, and the street lighting that currently exists along Benedictine University’s service road.
Rego said he’d like village staff to push for the buried lines, which he believes will benefit the Village in a long-term planning perspective.
What the university had to say
Last month Benedictine University counsel Neil Wolf reviewed a list of the university’s concerns, mostly related to storm water management.
He came back Wednesday evening to let commissioners know that the university and developers “ironed out substantially all concerns the university had with the land plan” throughout the last month. While a final agreement hasn’t been reached, Wolf said a conclusion is understood.
In addition to ensuring that all storm water provisions are “rigorously complied with,” the university’s main concern is ensuring that future residents are made aware of the surrounding areas.
Wolfe said University officials “want to make sure homeowners are not surprised they’ll be living next to a college campus,” and all its activities, which includes weekend and night events at the stadium, and parties in the University’s student living facilities.
Over the last month developers refined the easement, or buffer space, between the development and the university’s property. Automobile traffic will not be allowed on the university’s service road. The easement between the residences and service road will include a 6-foot fence, approximately evergreen trees per yard on the residents’ side, and plants along the university’s side.
A pedestrian path will run through this easement area. Village planner Josh Potter said they plan to make this path a designated part of the Village’s official bicycle and pedestrian network.
Developers have designated space in their plan for a pedestrian connection to Benedictine University, but it will be upon the university to approve build-out of a sidewalk and other features.