NORTHFIELD — Controversy surrounds a proposed townhouse development for the former AT&T property at 1725 Winnetka Road, Northfield, with some residents asserting that the development will cause traffic, congestion and too much density.
Owner and developer of the property Edward R. James will be presenting its case at a Plan and Zoning Commission hearing on November 6, which is a continuation from a meeting held on September 5. Edward R. James is seeking approval of a Planned Unit Development and re-zoning of the property from light manufacturing “M-1” to multi-family development “R-6”.
The company filed changes to its plans on October 30 that among other things, reduces the development from 34 townhouses to 32, Steve Gutierrez, Community Development Director, told DailyNorthShore.
Some neighbors have raised concerns over the plans for the property. “(S)etting maximum density from future developments will produce a tremendous increase in traffic on a very busy Winnetka Road,” Northfield resident James McKevitt wrote in a letter dated October 30 to DailyNorthShore.
“We know there is a vocal group that has concerns about the property, but what we are presenting is consistent with the Northfield Road Corridor Plan which is part of the Comprehensive Plan,” Jerry James, owner and President of Edward R. James told DailyNorthShore.
James is referring to a plan that was developed by the village in conjunction with consultants Teska & Associates and was adopted March 2016. The Northfield Road Corridor Plan recommends redeveloping the former AT&T site as planned residential, which could include attached or multi-family dwellings such as apartments, condominiums, or a mix of uses including single family homes.
Edward P. James considered whether to develop a mid-size multi-family building or townhouses and decided a townhouse development was a better fit, according to James. “We believe it offers more suitability to the adjoining neighbors that include townhouses,” James said.
Many of the residents objecting to the project live in the Meadowlake condominium complex located across the street from the AT&T site, according to James. He noted that when the Meadowlake project was approved in 1991, a special use permit was approved through the Planned Unit Development process. “From our perspective it is not only ironic but confounding that much of the opposition coming from Meadowlake (residents) is repeating the concerns that were voiced when their own project was approved in 1991,” James said.
James says the development won’t have any impact on traffic in the area, most of which is generated at specific times around New Trier High School’s schedule. He also noted that he has developed other successful Planned Unit Developments in Northfield, such as Fox Meadow and Hibbard Gardens.
James also stressed that he is no fly-by-night operation. He grew up in Wilmette, lives nearby in Winnetka and his parents live in Northfield. “We are part of this community and I would never do anything I wasn’t proud of and couldn’t live with as a neighbor,” he said.
At the November 6 hearing Edward P. James will give a presentation on the changes to its application and there will also be public testimony from the community, according to Gutierrez. If the hearing must be continued again it will be scheduled for some time in January 2018, Gutierrez said. Once the Plan and Zoning Commission makes a recommendation, the Architectural Commission will also need to make a recommendation, before the case proceeds to the Village Board for a final decision.
The November 6 hearing will be held at 7:00 p.m. at Northfield Village Hall, 361 Happ Road, Northfield. To view the application materials go to www.northfieldil.org.