After an hour long public hearing, the Shiloh Planning Commission on Monday approved to rezone the controversial Heitman Tract much to the dismay of a number residents.
The Committee at Large later denied the rezoning after a 4-2 vote.
A standing room only crowd attended the public hearing conducted by the Planning Commission.
Although the purpose of the hearing was to make known a developer’s application requesting to rezone 169.78 acres of Non-Urban (NU), agriculturally zoned land off Lebanon Avenue to R-1 and R-3 Single Family with minimum lot sizes stipulated, many residents questioned and commented on issues with the development that did not apply to the agenda item.
“We understand your concerns about traffic, mine subsidence and water drainage in the area, but tonight we are only reviewing the rezoning application, and that is it, as it is the right on the land owner to do so, just as it’s your right to address this board,” Brian Manion, new chairman to the Planning Commission, said.
In the agenda packet released on Friday but dated on June 13, Vince Kwiatkowski announced he was resigning as chairman of the Planning Commission, but wanted to remain on the board. He recommended his co-board member Manion to take his place, which Mayor Jim Vernier endorsed.
Manion assumed his new role at the beginning of the public hearing, but did not announce it until the Planning Commission meeting held over an hour later.
Other board members John Lee, B.J. Berger and Howard Steffey were also in attendance.
Specifically, the requested zoning change of the property at 4095 Lebanon Avenue will have two sections. The first is the 55.11 acres of land to be rezoned to R-1 Single Family zoning with a minimum lot size of 22,500 square feet. It is the closest to Lebanon Avenue, or the first to be built, if the development moves forward.
The second portion of the request is to rezone 114.67 acres to R-3 Single Family zoning with a minimum lot size of 12,500 square feet, which wouldn’t be built until the latter phases of construction, hypothetically, said Lisa Johnson, a lawyer representing JMB123 Properties LLC, owned by Dr. Kim Littlefield, who is a practicing dentist in Swansea at Emerald Terrace Dentistry, which he also owns.
Littlefield was not present at the hearing, but had legal representation Lisa Johnson, of SmithAmundsen in St. Louis, Mo., offer a power point presentation for the board and attendees to understand the intentions and reasoning for the rezoning application, as well as additional details of the development. Littlefield could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Johnson of SmithAmundsen in St. Louis, Mo., presented a power point presentation for the board and attendees to understand the intentions and reasoning for the rezoning application, as well as additional details of the development There are 291 proposed units for the development, she said.
Brian Schmidt, senior project manager and traffic engineer with Horner and Shifrin, based in O’Fallon, said there based on the number of units, there about 52 vehicles added to the traffic density with the development, but still according to Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) standards a lighted intersection isn’t warranted, but a right turn lane is warranted on Lebanon Avenue.
“The county does have a plan to widen Green Mount Road to two lanes in each direction with turn lanes, which will make it five lanes from West U.S. 50 to Illinois Route 177, so that’s going to be a contiguous section of road, so when we look at future traffic, say 20 years down the line
“According to our traffic data analysis and traffic projections, basically if it were built today there were only be a .2 second delay for traffic on Lebanon Avenue,” Schmidt said as attendees grew louder in disbelief.
Schmidt said the traffic study looked at data collected during the peak hours of the ‘a.m./p.m.’ Monday through Friday, not the weekends.
“How long did you run the sample data, was it you went out one day and did it, or was it over the course of days, weeks, months?...What about on the weekends like Sundays, when the churches let out?” Shawna Morse, of 228 Archview Drive, asked.
Schmidt said engineers can’t design roads based on the worst possible traffic, otherwise “we’d all be broke.”
“So we end up looking at the typical rush-hour ‘a.m.’ and ‘p.m.’on just weekdays,” Schmidt said.
If the development was for a fairground or a shopping center, then the data would’ve also been collected over the weekends for special event traffic, he said.
Permits for lighted signal intersections must be obtained by IDOT, Schmidt said.
“The way that the existing traffic flows, our distribution of this proposed traffic we did not get the warrants from IDOT’s chart system for the left turn lanes onto Lebanon Avenue, and that’s a hard pill for me to swallow because the chart actually says ‘should’ but they take it as ‘shall’ so we’re dealing with language,” he said.
Many times Manion had to remind attendees to “maintain order” and “stick to the rezoning item at hand,” as the 50-plus people attending heckled, spoke out of turn and repeated the same phrases and concerns over and over again.
“I keep hearing the same things, does anyone else have anything else to say to this board or ask the witnesses? Manion asked more than once.
“Understand we only make recommendations to the Board of Trustees here,” he repeated.
The main entrance to the development is proposed to be at Valleyview Farm Lane, but the developer proposed using auxillary routes like Archview and Golden Springs Parkway as alternate ways into the development for construction traffic, which many were not happy about.
Thad Mueller, of 113 Archview Drive, addressed the board multiple times with comments and questions.
“What’s proposed for that piece of ground down behind the Eagles? Twin Oaks Drive deadends there and everything conveniently stops right there?” Mueller asked.
Johnson said she didn’t know.
“What are you going to do about the impact of this development on the schools?” Mueller said.
An answer wasn’t provided.
Whispers were murmurmerd thoughout the hearing “why aren’t they answering our questions.”
Steffey raised questions that Johnson said “I don’t have that information,” or “that wasn’t discussed, or at least not with me.”
First he asked, what were the proposed price points of the homes planned for the possible future development, which Johnson was only able to give an estimated range of homes costing between $225-$400,000, after claiming she did not know for sure.
The conceptual entrance shows two lanes for in and out traffic with landscaped medians, and the subdivision signage ‘The Summit of Shiloh.’
Chris Busse, of 3754 Boatmans Point, also addressed the board with his concerns of mine subsidence.
“I’m curious to know if the developers are aware that most of that area you’re talking about developing is severly undermined. Every house on my cul de sac is now experiencing mine subsidence and if you look out into that field there’s ditches and rivets and all kinds of earth settling in that area due to mine subsidence,” Busse said.
Johnson rebuttled: “I’m not aware of that personally, but they are having engineers look at the site now and I’m sure they will take that into consideration.”
Aviston based Netemeyer Engineering Associates Inc., Pat Netemeyer, the engineer on the project, said the board shouldn’t make its decision based on whether there is mine subsidence or not, followed with comments that mine subsidence is “all about probability,” and common occurence in the area.
“Even my home is undermined,” Netemeyer said. “Mostly, the areas don’t settle for a long time, and later settlement is fixable.”
Netemeyer listed his home address in Aviston, Ill.
“Illinois has a very generous insurance program to help homeowner’s who have mine subsidence issues and damage to their property,” Netemeyer said.
Comments of sarcasim about the Illinois insurance program to relieve homeowner’s from damage to property due to mine subsidence, from attendees interrupted Netemeyer.
Netemeyer retorted with, “It depends on how you handle it okay, I’ve seen some people get their house paid for and that’s what the program exists for, and whether or not this pot field will sink, is something not any good mining engineer would tell you, whether or not it is undermined is even a big question. You can say, ‘it might be or it might not be undermined,’ but it’s not something typically something considered by zoning boards.”
The question of whether the property is undermined is “something that needs to be addressed by the developer, not the board, because he may not be able to sell a home if everyone thinks their home might be undermined,” Netemeyer said.
Jessica Bush, of 880 Calista Ridge Drive, posed a question that spurred additional questions from residents and a lecture about the traffic study from Schmidt.
“So at a minimum one car per household, how can a street light at Golden Spring Parkway, which currently doesn’t even go through there not suffer any consequences of traffic?”
No definitive answers were given to residents with questions about traffic congestion and routing, nor mine subsidence.