Neighbors question COD's plans for campus
College of DuPage's long-range vision for structures and improvements has sparked strong opposition to a proposed development plan for its Glen Ellyn campus.
Joining neighbors in voicing concerns about increased traffic, possible flooding, excessive signs and a lack of parking is the village of Glen Ellyn -- the entity that sought to have final say over what could be constructed at the 273-acre campus in a protracted legal battle.
DuPage County officials are reviewing a planned development application for COD's campus because of a recent agreement that transferred regulatory control -- including stormwater, building and zoning -- from Glen Ellyn to the county. The county accepted oversight responsibilities to end a dispute between the village and the college about who has jurisdiction over the campus.
On Thursday night, the county's zoning board of appeals got a taste of what Glen Ellyn and COD had been bickering about.
More than 260 people attended the first in a series of meetings about the planned development proposal. Staci Hulseberg, Glen Ellyn's director of planning and development, was among them.
Hulseberg outlined a list of issues about COD's proposal, including that the document itself lacks details.
"The proposed planned development proposal doesn't provide enough specificity for the county to even determine or evaluate the impact on surrounding properties," Hulseberg said to the zoning board members.
While most of the plan reflects what the campus already looks like, it shows "placeholders" for future buildings and structures, including six buildings totaling 723,000 square feet.
COD attorney Ken Florey said the purpose is to give the county an idea of what the campus could look like decades from now. He stressed that the college board of trustees hasn't decided what the buildings will be, when they will be built or how they will be funded.
"These are snapshots of where buildings could go," Florey said. "There's no current plan that's been approved to put buildings there. To provide funding for those, very likely, the college would have to go back out to the voters for another referendum approval three, four, five, 10, 15, 20 years down the road. We just don't know."
But Hulseberg said the effects the future buildings would have on the surrounding area "largely depend on their use." If COD can't provide more information, she said, the village is requesting that "any unknown uses be removed from the plan."
The village and surrounding homeowners associations also are concerned about the plan showing three large buildings along the western, southern and eastern borders of the campus. Each three-story building would be close to neighboring houses.
"Those buildings will definitely have an impact on the character and the property values of the surrounding area," Hulseberg said. "We would request that COD either eliminate those buildings or relocate them to be farther from the residential properties."
Another controversial structure in the plan is a proposed welcome center on the north side of Fawell Boulevard, west of Park Boulevard. Because Fawell curves at that location, neighbors say it would be hazardous to put a building there. Some said a traffic study is needed.
There are also concerns about a lack of parking on the campus. Hulseberg said the village already has had to take steps to prevent COD students and faculty from parking on surrounding streets. She said the college should be required to do a new parking study that takes into account updated enrollment numbers and proposed new buildings.
With another meeting scheduled for May 21, zoning board Chairman Robert Kartholl acknowledged COD's plan lacks information.
"There's not a lot of detail here," Kartholl said. "I don't know how we could support or oppose any of these future projects."
But COD representatives declined an offer by Kartholl to take more time "to sharpen up the level of detail."
"The detail is provided in the application," Florey said. "We provided you all the detail that is necessary to determine these buildings will be used under those allowable uses. We're not looking for a parking variance. We're not looking for a water detention variance."
The college also issued a written statement where it addressed the various concerns raised by neighbors.
"In terms of safety, the college has conducted studies to account for a traffic increase with parking," the statement reads. "The college has always complied with local stormwater ordinances and will continue to do so. Any new buildings will have similar signs to those on existing campus buildings, but these will be minor additions to the signage."