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updated: 4/19/2017 10:10 PM

Opposition builds against gas station in Glen Ellyn

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  • Video: "This has bigger implications"

  • Mary Beth Nelms, left, joined a protest against plans for a gas station at the southeast corner of Main Street and St. Charles Road in Glen Ellyn.

      Mary Beth Nelms, left, joined a protest against plans for a gas station at the southeast corner of Main Street and St. Charles Road in Glen Ellyn.
    Katlyn Smith | Staff Photographer

  • Megan Clifford, center, says a proposed gas station belongs on North Avenue, not at the northern gateway into Glen Ellyn.

      Megan Clifford, center, says a proposed gas station belongs on North Avenue, not at the northern gateway into Glen Ellyn.
    Katlyn Smith | Staff Photographer

  • This rendering shows what a proposed gas station will look like at Main Street and St. Charles Road in Glen Ellyn.

    This rendering shows what a proposed gas station will look like at Main Street and St. Charles Road in Glen Ellyn.
    Courtesy of Village of Glen Ellyn

 
 

The backyard of Diana Martinez's Glen Ellyn home is just south of a vacant, village-owned lot where developers want to build a gas station that would operate round-the-clock.

With hours like that, the station belongs on North Avenue or Roosevelt Road, not in her neighborhood, Martinez and other critics of the project say.

She joined dozens of protesters who gathered at the site Tuesday night in advance of a village board vote next week that could provide final approval for the project to Ohio-based True North Energy LLC.

In response to concerns by neighbors and village staffers, developers have made 32 modifications to their proposal, Planning and Development Director Staci Hulseberg said.

"They really do want to be a part of the community," she said.

But neighbors say the development, northeast of Forest Glen Elementary School, is too large. Gas pumps would accommodate 12 vehicles.

True North also is seeking to sell alcohol in a 4,290-square-foot convenience store at the southeast corner of Main Street and St. Charles Road.

Neighbors are now calling on trustees to revoke a special-use permit for the project they awarded in a 4-0 vote last month.

"I think the approval by the board of the special use for a gas station this close to an elementary school with a 24/7 allowance for operations to serve alcohol is just something we've never seen in the village," said Megan Clifford, who lives on Forest Avenue. "And it's a bad precedent."

Beyond her neighborhood, opponents have posted signs against the project in their front yards. A website, protectglenellyn.org, lists environmental, traffic and safety concerns. A petition also has garnered more than 1,000 signatures.

Jessica Valerio, who went to Forest Glen and whose kids attend the school, urged trustees to listen to that "public sentiment."

"And it's not to have a big, giant gas station in our backyard or near our schools," said Valerio, an administrator of a Facebook page opposing the gas station.

Other demonstrators worried that the station would take away business from the Walgreens and 7-Eleven stores at the Five Corners intersection, a northern gateway into downtown.

"We don't need the gas fumes. We don't need the traffic. And we certainly don't need a 12-pump, 24-hour-a-day gas station on this corner," said Mary Beth Nelms, a crossing guard for Forest Glen in the 1990s.

The village paid $590,000 to buy the property in September 2010. It tried to spark redevelopment of the site by demolishing the former Marathon gas station and completing environmental remediation of the soil.

"There is no protection for the community to prevent us from having to invest in the property again should it fail," said Brett Wallin, who lives on Lenox Road.

In 2012, the village put out a request for proposals from developers and received just two. One was not feasible, and the other called for a gas station, but that concept fell through, village planners say.

About two years later, no one responded to the village's second formal request for proposals. The village board hired real estate firm DKMallon in August 2014 to market the property.

True North made an offer in August 2015. About a year ago, the board agreed to enter into the contract to sell the land to the company for $630,000.

True North has indicated the business could generate an estimated $140,000 in annual sales taxes.

On Monday, trustees are tentatively set to consider the company's bid for five exemptions from village zoning rules and exterior plans. Those variances would, in part, allow developers to build a 6-foot-tall fence to better screen the east side of the property instead of the maximum fence height of 4 feet in village code.

Developers also have agreed to program the lights on the 14-foot-tall canopy to automatically dim between midnight and 5 a.m.

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