Train derailments. Gas station vapors blowing up nearby homes and setting them on fire. Cars and pedestrians hit by trains at railroad crossings. Industrial machinery blasting noise for 12 hours a day. Cars and pedestrians involved in accidents at heavily trafficked intersections. “How much more risk can be piled onto one intersection,” asks Gary Spahn, a homeowner who lives adjacent to the corner of Everett and Waukegan, where a gas station, car wash, mini mart has been proposed for an empty parcel. Mr. Spahn explains that the intersection is surrounded by private homes, a church, a private elementary school, a train crossing and Metra station, and a medical office building. It is not a site for a heavy duty industrial use which will generate lots and lots more traffic congestion, noise, and industrial waste,” says Mr. Spahn.
Mr. Spahn is a volunteer member of a growing, non-partisan, grass roots effort, called Lake Forest Integrity Caucus, trying to educate the surrounding communities of the dangers of the proposed project. The car wash, gas station, mini mart is the brainstorm of Waterway Gas and Wash, an operator from Missouri, who has asked for a Special Use Permit to build his project in Lake Forest.
The noise, the lights, the gas vapors, the traffic, the industrial waste, are all factors that will lead to a disintegration of quality of life and real estate tax values for the adjacent communities according to the real estate appraiser expert hired by the Caucus, Michael MaRue. “A lowering of real estate values, which depresses real estate taxes, is bad news for City finances, at a time when the State has neglected to fund its share of municipal operations, likely to strangle the Lake Forest City budget in the future”, worries Michael Mulqueen, a nearby resident.
“We certainly don’t need another car wash, since our local communities have access to 22 car wash facilities in the immediate vicinity; we don’t need another gas station because there are 18 gas stations in the immediate vicinity; and we don’t need another food mart, with Sunset Foods, Marianos, and Heinen’s all practically walking distance from the intersection,” says Lake Forest resident Walter Wade.
Richard Sugar, another Lake Forest resident recalls that a former gas station operation, located on the north half of the Everett/Waukegan parcel, petitioned for a car wash in 1991 and again in 1992. “They did not receive approval from the City because of the congestion already existing at the intersection and the additional traffic likely to pour into the intersection from the car wash. So they moved out. What has changed to permit Waterway to be built at the same intersection? The traffic congestion has only gotten worse. The increasing number of trains at the crossing will increase traffic backups, and the accident rate at that intersection is as bad as when there was a gas station and garden center, even though the parcel is now vacant. Accidents will get worse by pouring more traffic from the car wash into the intersection,” says Mr. Sugar.
The Waterway company persuaded the Village of Northbrook to allow its car wash, gas station, mini mart to be built on Waukegan near Willow. A neighbor adjacent to the Northbrook Waterway says: “Despite Waterway’s promise to conform to Village of Northbrook and State of Illinois noise regulations, they have violated those regulations with their car wash blowers. We asked the Village Trustees to address this issue with Waterway. We gave documentary proof of the noise violations to the Village. After months of pleas, nothing has progressed.”
“In a nutshell, the Waterway project does not meet the standards for a Special Use Permit,” according to Edward Sachs, a Lake Forest resident. “It degrades the health and welfare of the community. It adds to traffic congestion, accidents, noise, and pollution. The southern half of the parcel is within 15 feet of residential homes. It does not meet the needs of the neighborhood, a fundamental requirement for a Special Use Permit. It will leave behind a single use building with toxic underground tanks, that cannot be repurposed for another use, failing another requirement for a Special Use Permit. A car wash, gas station, mini mart, at the southern gateway to the City, is hardly the image of Lake Forest, and it is hardly consistent with the beauty and lifestyle of our community,” says Mr. Sachs.
The Caucus urges all Lake Forest residents to attend the upcoming Plan Commission meeting on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 6:30 pm at City Hall, located at 220 E. Deerpath Road, 2nd Floor, Lake Forest. The future image of Lake Forest will be determined at that meeting.
Lake Forest Integrity Caucus