Village trustees unanimously recommended that attorneys draft an amendment which will allow vocational, trade, and technical schools to apply for special use permits in parts of Lisle.
For-profit technical school Universal Technical Institute, Inc. (UTI) submitted the request with the intention of eventually constructing a new campus at 2611 Corporate West Dr., located in the village’s office-research zone along Warrenville Road. Currently, schools are restricted in this zone.
Planning and zoning commission members so UTI could with a special use request to demolish the existing facility and construct a new 185,000-square foot building. The new campus would serve roughly 1,500 students.
PZC members also supported the addition of colleges and universities to special use.
The amendment will come back to the board for final approval at a future meeting. Approval would allow similar institutions to submit special use requests in the office-research zone in the future.
Supporters of the project argue the only way to revive this site is to rebuild. And while schools are currently restricted, experts with UTI say the changes made in education in the last few decades allow teaching and research to exist simultaneously.
Planning and zoning commission member Brad Hettich said the village should be open to opportunities for education and research to evolve “as long as it’s the right school.”
Staff memos indicate the building served a similar purpose as an information technology training center. Monday evening Community Development Director Tony Budzikowski said training centers with dormitories are allowed under current code.
While the current building includes more than 200 dormitories, the proposed UTI campus plan does not include living quarters.
Staff memos also show areas of Aurora, Downers Grove, Naperville, and Oak Brook currently allow some type of technical or vocational education use in their office-research districts. Approval of the amendment would keep the village consistent with other communities along the I-88 corridor, Budzikowski said.
However, one resident took issue with the sentiment that educational uses are consistent with this corridor. Zajdel provided commission members with a PowerPoint presentation last month [slides are included in Monday night’s meeting packet] that argued the request was out of line with the village’s land use plan. She said she felt approval of educational institutions would change the character of the corridor.
The attorney representing UTI commented Monday that Zajdel presented some “mischaracterized” information in her PowerPoint presentation. Russ Whitaker said a FOIA request for numbers showing a significant number of police calls to UTI’s existing campus in Glendale Heights was not restricted to campus buildings. He described the majority of calls as being of a “non-criminal” nature, such as car lock-outs.