LAKE BLUFF — Changes to the village’s zoning ordinance that could pave the way to a three-story, 16-unit condominium development in the central business district received preliminary approval from the Village Board of Trustees.
The board on August 22 unanimously approved a recommendation by the Plan Commission & Zoning Board of Appeals to change the code to incorporate a guide to a planned, mixed-use downtown development.
This was the ordinance’s first reading; the board will take a final tally during a second reading at 7 p.m. September 12 at Village Hall. Village Administrator Drew Irvin said the trustees had the option to vote the same way or change their mind.
At the heart of the matter is the proposal by Roanoke Group, a Lake Bluff-based developer, to build 16 condominium units on Block 3 of the central business district bounded by Scranton, Oak, North and Evanston Avenues. Nearby residents have voiced strong opposition.
The PMD gives Roanoke guidance to submit possible revisions to its plans to the PCZBA, which intends to vote whether to recommend it to the Board of Trustees during a continued public hearing at 7 p.m. September 21 at Village Hall.
Unlike the August 17 PCZBA meeting where a standing-room only crowd of more than 70 cheered and clapped as people opposed the ordinance change, fewer than 15 people attended the August 22 meeting, with five speaking against it and one in favor. Those against it argued for more neighborhood input.
“There should be some consideration to the people in the neighborhood,” said Rob Isham, a resident, asking for specific language. “I would not suggest a veto but they should have a voice in the zoning process.”
Village attorney Peter Friedman said there was language in the ordinance’s design standards preventing a development from being “inconsistent with the community character of the neighborhood,” and that it cannot change the “essential character of the neighborhood or be incompatible with other property in the immediate vicinity.”
Speaking in favor of the ordinance was Paul Lemieux, who said he liked the control it gave the village over proposed developments.
While the trustees generally spoke in favor of the ordinance, they said they liked the process but made no commitment on how they might vote on Roanoke’s proposal when it comes before the board in the future.
“There will be folks upset one way or the other but I believe the process is working,” said Trustee Stephen Christensen. “We’re not there to decide if it will be 30 feet or 35 feet in height. This is a tool and it is working very, very well.”
Trustee Eric Grenier also favored the process but he was non-committal on how he might vote on the condo development.
“I’ve been paying attention and from my perspective I’m going to look very closely at this,” said Grenier.
When the PCZBA made its recommendation to the trustees on August 17, it also asked them to include a provision in the ordinance requiring a two thirds vote of the board to reverse a negative vote by the commissioners.
Though no tally was taken during the meeting, three trustees present—Grenier, Christensen and Mark Dewart—said they did not like the idea while Trustee Barbara Ankenman spoke in favor. The consensus was that the final decision should be thoroughly in the hands of elected officials, not appointed ones.
“If I were going to go against a recommendation it would have to be something very major,” Grenier said.
Trustee John Josephitis recused himself because of his business relationship with the owner of Block 3 and Trustee William Meyer was absent. The suggestion excluded a vote by Village President Kathleen O’Hara.