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Plans for Downers Grove gas station, restaurant raise commissioner concerns

DOWNERS GROVE – Plans to build a drive-thru restaurant, convenience store and gas station on a vacant lot at the southeast corner of Belmont Road and Ogden Avenue were greeted by a variety of concerns from Downers Grove commissioners at their Nov. 21 meeting.

The village Plan Commission had recommended approval of the proposal to redevelop the vacant lot, which previously was home to a gas station. Village commissioners will likely vote on the zoning request at a December meeting.

Commissioner Marge Earl voiced her opposition to the plan.

“I do not support this redevelopment,” Earl said. “I do not believe that we meet the alley vacation standards. I do not believe that the 66-foot frontage on Ogden Avenue is any way appropriate.”

Earl added she was opposed to the configuration of the drive-thru because it did not include sufficient space for a car to pull out of the line.

She said residents who live near the property did not have the opportunity to offer feedback on plans to vacate the alley behind the parcel, which is needed to accommodate the restaurant and add green space.

Commissioner William Waldack agreed.

“I think it’s important to hear from the neighbors,” Waldack said. “So in the time off between the workshop time here and the time we actually vote on it, I would like to see more of an effort to get in touch with the neighbors. I think hearing from the neighbors is extremely important.”

Waldack added the Village Council should carefully consider the proposal.

“This is a catalyst [site], and I think it’s important,” he said.

The restaurant proposed for the site has not been revealed because a lease has not been signed, said the petitioner, Chris Lavoie of C.M. Lavoie & Associates.

“It will be a very attractive site when it’s done," Lavoie said.

Commissioner Bob Barnett said the proposal is similar to previous businesses on the site at 2125 Ogden Ave.

“It’s totally consistent, it seems to me, with what that site’s been used for for the better part of 20 years,” Barnett said.

Lavoie told commissioners that every effort was made to contact neighbors and the owner of property to the south of the parcel.

In 2016, he sent registered letters to all of the property owners contiguous to the alley. The letters, he said, included specific plans for the parcel rather than a simple notification.

Lavoie said locating some of the owners of the nearby condominium units was difficult because some of them do not live on the property.

“I spent days looking for these people," he said. “We did our absolute best effort.”

Locating the owner of the property to the south, who wants to build condominiums on his parcel, also was difficult, Lavoie said.

“It was just not going anywhere," Lavoie said. “We could not get a clear answer from the individual.”

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