GLEN ELLYN – The village of Glen Ellyn has agreed to refund the operator of a proposed gas station $630,000 in land costs in the event a group is successful in blocking the controversial project.
Village trustees on Jan. 8 voted 4-2 to refund True North Energy LLC the purchase price of $630,000 in the event the trial court issues an order enjoining True North from proceeding with its proposed development plan. In exchange, the village would receive the deed of title for the property.
Voting "no" were trustees John Kenwood and Bill Enright.
As discussed in the Village Board's closed session Dec. 18, 2017, True North had asked the village to modify the property sale and purchase agreement that was finalized May 1, 2017. True North asked the village to reimburse the $630,000 purchase price if Protect Glen Ellyn Inc. prevails in its lawsuit to stop the gas station from being built.
The nonprofit group filed a lawsuit in May 2017 seeking to stop the station from being built at the southeast corner of St. Charles Road and Main Street in Glen Ellyn.
Resident David Hartsell, who lives near the proposed station, requested that trustees not reimburse True North's money.
"I'm here tonight asking you not to make a bad situation worse," said Hartsell, who has spoken out against the project. "As it stands right now, the village has no obligation whatsoever to do anything for True North. They own the property. They want you to basically assume all the risks of the litigation for them. They want you to backstop this decision they made to go forward with the closing."
He then called for trustees to "unravel this deal."
"Let us help you find a proper use for the property," Hartsell said. "We are lawyers. We are real estate experts. We have financial professionals. We can help you."
Brett Wallin, who also is against the construction of the gas station, told trustees "it would be in the people's best interest to allow True North to walk away from the deal immediately."
"Is the change being sought in the best interests of the people? he asked. "If they're asking to change the deal, I think you need to negotiate, at the minimum. And I think you need to negotiate because that's in the best interest of the people."
Protect Glen Ellyn President Megan Clifford told trustees the group has support from throughout the community and not just those who live near the proposed gas station.
"We represent Glen Ellyn, the same Glen Ellyn that you, too, are representing in your capacity as trustees and professional staff paid with our tax dollars," Clifford said. "The village's decision to aggressively pursue this gas station is really shortsighted. It's clearly about a potential of a short-term gain. It ignores the significant and likely adverse long-term impacts to the surrounding residents and businesses."
On Dec. 11, 2017, DuPage County Judge Bonnie Wheaton denied motions to dismiss the lawsuit. The next court hearing on the case is set for Jan. 25.
During public hearings on the project, residents who live near the site voiced concerns the gas station would create flooding problems and release fumes, emissions and gas runoff into the surrounding neighborhood. They also were concerned about the station's proximity to Forest Glen Elementary School.
In response to concerns raised by residents, along with village staff and the village's Architectural Review and Plan commissions, True North had revised its plans, agreeing to more than 30 conditions.
Despite continued opposition from residents, Glen Ellyn trustees and former Village President Alex Demos on May 1, 2017, voted 5-2 to finalize the sale of land at 825 N. Main St. for the gas station and convenience store.
Trustees previously voted April 25 to approve variations from the village's code to allow for the gas station – which would be able to accommodate as many as 12 vehicles at a time – and 4,200-square-foot convenience store. On March 13, they also approved a special-use permit and sign code variations for the project.
The Village Board in February 2016 voted to sell the 1.35-acre property to True North for $630,000 for the development of the gas station and convenience store.
The village purchased the land for $590,000 in September 2010 and invested $90,000 in remediation, demolition and restoration efforts over six years. Previously, a dilapidated gas station had been on the property.