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McHenry Times

Monday, December 9, 2019

City of Crystal Lake Planning and Zoning Commission met July 3

By Kristine Gonzales-Abella | Aug 14, 2019

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City of Crystal Lake Planning and Zoning Commission met July 3.

Here is the minutes provided by the commission:

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Hayden at 7:30 p.m. On roll call, members Esposito, Goss, Greenman, Jouron, Philpot, Skluzacek, and Hayden were present.

Elizabeth Maxwell, City Planner, Katie Cowlin, Assistant City Planner, and David Pardys, Special Council, were present from Staff.

Mr. Hayden asked those in attendance to rise to say the Pledge of Allegiance. He led those in attendance in the Pledge.

Mr. Hayden stated that this meeting was being televised now, as well as, recorded for future playback on the City’s cable station. He added to please use the sign in sheets in the rear of the Chambers and he will call the names from the list for anyone who wishes to speak.


Mr. Greenman moved to approve the minutes from the June 26, 2019 Planning and Zoning Commission Special meeting as presented. Mr. Philpot seconded the motion. On roll call, all members present voted aye.

Motion passed.

Mr. Hayden asked if anyone has any questions about how the hearing process will work. No one had any questions.

2019-91 DISCOUNT TIRE – 5501 Northwest Hwy – PUBLIC HEARING

This petition was continued from the June 26, 2019 Special PZC meeting.

Preliminary Planned Unit Development to allow the construction of a new 8,192 square-foot retail building.

Mr. Hayden stated that the sign had been posted. He said the surrounding property owners were notified and the Certificate of Publication was in the file. Mr. Hayden waived the reading of the legal notice without objection.

Todd Mosher and Steve McCleary, both with RA Smith Engineering, were present to represent Discount Tire, the petition. Mr. Hayden swore in the petition’s representatives. Mr. Mosher said they are proposing an 8,200 square-foot Discount Tire building. They are in agreement with the staff report and the conditions listed in that report. Discount Tire is a tire dealer and they do not perform any auto service work like oil changes, brakes, etc. They have limited hours of operation, which are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and they are closed on Sunday. He said this is a low traffic use. It is a privately held company with about 1,000 stores across the country. Mr. Mosher said they are requesting a Preliminary PUD that includes parking lot in the front for customers and in the rear for employees. The building is mostly masonry and it is spruced up in conjunction with the TIF district. He said this plan meets or exceeds the landscape requirements of the City. They are proposing 6 service bays for tire installation. This does not include other repair services or alignments. If they find that work needs to be done on the car, they refer the customer to local businesses. This business does encourage more business than just tire sales. Some of their customers do walk down the street and can go shopping. This use is similar to what currently is in this area.

Mr. Hayden said the staff report lists the Findings of Fact and conditions. Mr. Mosher said they clearly meet the Findings of Fact and they are in agreement with the conditions in the report. Also, they received the Engineering comments and there should not be any problem with addressing them.

Ms. Maxwell said the request is for a Preliminary PUD. This is the first step and they will be coming back for the Final PUD approval. As part of PUD, the petitioner is requesting several variations which are spelled out in the report.

Mr. Hayden asked if there was any person present representing a group or calling any witnesses.

William Graft, attorney representing the land trust that owns the contiguous property, strongly objects to this PUD request. He said this request does not meet the standards for the issuance of the Preliminary PUD. He said at the last meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Commissioners recommended rezoning of the property to “B-2 PUD” and the subdivision of the three lots into four. That request has not been before the City Council for their approval and they bring this request before the PZC.

Tom Zordan, architect and resident of this area, was present as an expert witness for the objector.

Mr. Hayden swore in Mr. Graft and Mr. Zordan.

Mr. Graft said his client is the beneficiary of the trust for the property that was purchased in 2018. It is leased to the tenant, Cassidy Tire which has operated in this location for several years and was previously used by Crystal Lake Tire. He said Cassidy Tire operates in 15 locations. In 2018, the property was purchased for the appraised value of $2 million. Mr. Graft said his client’s property is contiguous to the subject property to the west. Discount Tire is asking for approval of a Preliminary PUD and several variations. The land trust property shares a common access under an agreement. The PUD request shows six bays that are facing this client’s business. The proposed use violates both the City’s vision in the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, as well as, the Vulcan Lakes redevelopment plan. This proposal rejects those plans. He said the Discount Tire site is under parked and requesting a variation. The City Code is very clear that the petitioner needs to show a hardship and it cannot be self-imposed. The original lots that were recommended for resubdivision at last week’s special meeting was larger than this proposed lot, therefore creating the hardship themselves. Mr. Graft said the petitioner is trying to shoe horn in a larger building on a smaller lot. They are also asking to reduce the setback from 20 feet to 10 feet for the parking setback, as well as the required 15-foot landscape requirement to 10 feet. You cannot chose who the property owners are, but they can be held to the City’s standards and should not ignore the Code or the City’s vision. He said the resubdivision of the property created the undersized lot for this use and the proof is in the parking and landscaping variations, which are self-imposed. The property owner said there would be a shared parking agreement between the four resubdivided lots without knowing the uses for the other lots. There is no way for any staff member or traffic engineer to determine the appropriate parking. This presents a great risk to the City. Mr. Graft said the developer came in and said they have one user and give them the four-lot subdivision. He said if the other lots are not developed, there will not be any circulation for emergency vehicles. Where will the employees park their cars if all the spaces are taken by customers? Will they go next door to his client’s property? They do not want City to spend their resources to enforce parking on private property. If the variations for the parking, landscaping, and setbacks are approved, what leverage does the City have when the other uses come through the process.

Mr. Graft said the vision for Vulcan Lakes was implemented in 1990. Once this use is established for these lots, it sets the tone for the other lots. He read from the Vulcan Lakes TIF documents. The building and site almost turn their back on the resources the City wisely nurtured. Frankly, it is outrageous for someone to buy property and ignore what was done in the area. He understands they cannot control who owns property and the real estate market lost a decade to the worst recession since the Great Depression. His client’s building was built to code at the time it was built. He said the high quality of uses should not be tossed aside. Mr. Graft said just down Route 14 in Barrington is a brewery – The Wild Onion. It is in the middle of an industrial area and on the edge of a gravel pit.

Mr. Graft said this petitioner needs to meet the standards. Currently, there are two direct competitors and another tire shop near this property. The use is not necessary and will not further the public convenience. Given the noisy nature of the business, it will be a detriment to the area. The use will be an unsightly nuisance. Mr. Graft is requesting a continuance so they can bring in testimony, which was not available today due to this meeting being the day before the Independence Day holiday. This use will diminish the value of Three Oaks. They are also concerned with the other uses. This will set a precedent and the City will lose forever what the City has aspired to. He said there is a parking problem here and it cannot be solved by future uses that may come someday, but we do not know when. This type of use already exists. Mr. Graft said there are too many service bays for this size lot. He submitted a report by the appraiser who was not able to attend tonight. He asked for a continuance so the appraiser can attend the meeting and the Commissioners can ask him questions.

Mr. Zordan said this petition was brought to his attention a few days ago. The building structure is a typical block and brick building. It is an industrial-type building. This site has great site lines and the petitioner is turning their back on the views in the rear. He said the trash dumpster and tire removal trailer will take up parking spaces. He has determined that 28 parking stalls is required for this use and the petitioners are requesting a variation. It is a major reduction in the parking requirements and they are also requesting to reduce the landscaping requirement which brings the parking stalls even closer to Route 14. Mr. Zordan said this request does not meet the City’s requirements. This site is very tight to the point of being almost too narrow. He said this request does not meet the buffer, landscape, setback, and parking requirements. This building is nothing more than a split face block garage.

Mr. Graft gave a copy of the letter and resume of the appraiser who was not able to attend this meeting. He said on behalf of Mitch Perlow, MAI, he is requesting this petition be continued. Mr. Graft believes the Commissioners will benefit from his testimony.

Mr. Graft said they are trying to be friendly about this. They do not believe the petitioner has tried to meet the City’s standard. He said that some of the members of the Commission were elected officials and some of them were associated with the Vulcan Lakes TIF district. He said it must be very difficult for those members to drive by the dilapidated buildings. Mr. Graft asked why have standards if they are not going to be upheld.

They are not antidevelopment. His client paid a lot of money for his property and they have the correct amount of frontage required on Route 14. This parcel is not big enough for what the petitioners want to do. There are other uses that can cohabitate with the land uses there. This is a use that can be located somewhere else. Mr. Graft said this is a historic opportunity for the City. He asked the Commissioners to say no to the self-imposed hardships. This use will not enhance the recreation area. He said this is a gateway to Crystal Lake and the Three Oaks Recreation Area. They are asking the Commissioners hold to the petitioner to the City’s standards.

There was no one else in the public who wished to comment on this request. The public portion was closed at this time.

Mr. Jouron asked if the Discount Tire in Algonquin is the same size. Mr. Mosher said it is approximately the same size. Mr. Jouron said he has been a customer for many years and there is always a traffic jam on that site. He wants to see some coordination with the lake and the staff report mentions an easement, but the plan does not show it. Mr. Jouron added that the signs need to meet the City’s requirements. They only need one sign for the four lots since they will be “one unit”. Over the years, the City has tried to clean up the signs along Route 14. Crystal Lake is not like going through Schaumburg. People are familiar with the area and once they find you they will know where you are. He added that the garbage container is very large and is shown in the easement for the lake.

Mr. Goss appreciates everyone coming tonight. He voted against the subdivision at the last meeting. He does not know enough about what will be on the other lots to make a determination. He appreciates the comments made about the Three Oaks Recreation Area. He was involved from the beginning and said that possibly the City should have started the boardwalk. Mr. Goss said the trouble for the Commissioners is this property is “B-2” and this is a permitted use in that district. In his mind having the lake in the rear says more about the area. Mr. Goss asked why there is a 38-foot drive aisle in the rear. Mr. Mosher said that allows for truck deliveries and still have two way traffic around the building. Mr. Goss asked what will be done if the building is approved and the other is not developed as there would be no circulation pattern. Mr. Mosher said there will be a circulation pattern even if the other lots are not developed. Mr. Goss asked if staff is aware of that. Ms. Maxwell said staff has not seen the agreement. The developer is getting ready for the lots to be sold and the utilities, grading, be done. Mr. Goss said he does not want to lose control over the rear.

Mr. Goss asked about the size of the sign on Route 14. Ms. Maxwell said staff did not receive that information for the sign. Mr. Mosher said it will be a monument sign. Mr. Goss said they are requesting a variation for wall signs. Mr. Mosher said the front door is on the west side of the building and would like to identify the entrance to the building. They are also proposing a wall sign on the east and north walls. He said they did a lot of work on the rear of the building so it looks like it could be the front. They would like all 3 signs on the building. Mr. Goss asked who will be responsible to pave the access shared with Cassidy Tire. Mr. Mosher said they are only proposing to pave up to the property line. They are willing to enhance Cassidy’s side of the driveway just to clean it up if property owner would allow them. Mr. Goss said no drainage would be allowed to go to the south. All of the drainage has to come to the front along Route 14 and because of the characteristics of the lake being a closed system. Mr. Mosher said they will be using the drywell system that is already on the property and then it will flow into Route 14. Mr. Goss asked about the striped island on the southwest corner of the property. Mr. Mosher said that is a loading zone and air check area. Mr. Goss asked where the dead tires stored are. Mr. Mosher said all tire are kept in the building and picked up on a regular basis by a licensed recycle company. Mr. Goss reiterated that he is extremely disappointed in the developer of the properties.

Mr. Skluzacek said is a trailer for storage to be parked in the rear of the property was mentioned earlier. Mr. Mosher said that area is for deliveries only and there will not be any storage trailer parked there for an extended period of time. Mr. Skluzacek said he also has an issue with the dumpster’s location. Mr. Mosher said he heard that loud and clear.

Mr. Philpot said it is a bummer that the beautiful view will be blocked by trees. He believes the signage should meet the City’s requirements. He is not sure there is a hardship here. It looks like there will be a building to the east of this proposed building, which will more than likely block the sign on that side of the building. He has mixed feelings about the setback. Cassidy Tire does not fall into that setback because it was build many years ago. He would like to see trees in the front unless there are utilities there that prohibit them. Mr. Mosher said they are willing to plant trees in front and there are utilities to contend with. They will work around that and will put them in. Mr. Philpot said he wants something different with the dumpster. He asked what the setback is for Cassidy Tire. Ms. Maxwell showed aerial photo of the area showing the drive aisles and two rows of parking with a green area along Route 14. Mr. Philpot asked Mr. Graft if there are any plans in the future to redevelop their current site if they will meet the requirements. Mr. Graft said if variations are granted for these uses, they will be asking for them too. He added that the petitioner was asked if they meet the codes and the petitioner stated that they did meet the City Standards, which they do not. Mr. Hayden said that in a PUD the UDO requirements can be relaxed. Mr. Graft said it is not necessarily to reduce the standards. Mr. Philpot asked about the hardship for the setback. Mr. Mosher said it is the flexibility of the PUD and they want to meet what is there now. He added that their parking lot will have a safer situation if it lines up with the Cassidy Tire lot.

Mr. Esposito said the PZC recommended approval of the 4-lot subdivision. He said his comment at that meeting was this resubdivision is like wiping the slate lean and this request is being shoehorned onto this property. The variations need to go away for him to even look at this. Also, there is too much signage on the building and it needs to meet the ordinance. He feels that one monument sign for the PUD is enough. Each use should not have a separate monument sign. Mr. Esposito said he is not happy with the trash enclosure location. This is a slap in the face to this community and he will not support it period.

Mr. Greenman said he is in general agreement with the comments made by the other Commissioners. He would appreciate justification for hardship of the variations. He also needs to hear the specifics for the Findings of Fact. He is struggling with this being necessary or desirable. There is no questions about the service provided, but the location of the business. Also, he asked that evidence be presented regarding the PUD standards. Mr. Greenman said the use is accepted in the district, but it does not meet the vision for the area. This is a TIF district and the Commissioners need to understand how this use meets the vision. He asked about the required number of parking spaces. Ms. Maxwell said it is based on the number of employees and the number of bays.

Mr. Hayden gave the petitioner an opportunity to respond to the comments made.

Mr. Mosher said regarding the Findings of Fact the use is necessary or desirable. This is a tire store and is not the same as the neighboring business. There is some overlap but they do not preform auto service. This gives people a choice. As for the vision of the TIF District – they have reviewed the TIF documents and they did see the vision. He said they are supporting the boardwalk with an 8-foot easement. They did like the idea of having a place for the customers to go while their tires are being worked on. This will also provide an opportunity for other businesses. Mr. Mosher said there may be up to 15 employees on a shift and their plan shows 35 spaces. They do not believe they need a variations. Ms. Maxwell said the code does allow for a shared parking agreement, which staff is recommending that. There can only be a shared parking agreement if the other use does not use their allotted parking spaces at the same time the other use needs them. If there is a use that is open during day and another at night, they could share the parking. This has been done in other centers. Mr. Hayden asked how they factor that in the other spaces when they do not know what the other uses will be. Ms. Maxwell said the parking for this use was based on the square footage of the building and the number of employees. She will update the required parking number. Mr. Greenman asked what the parking is required. Ms. Maxwell said it would be 33.

Mr. Mosher said they intent to have a third wall sign. They did enhance the building and they do agree that if another building is built to the east it could block their sign. Mr. Jouron said the monument sign needs to be consistent with the others along Route 14 that are under the same PUD. Mr. Mosher said they will enhance the landscape area in the front. They are not opposed to the sidewalk. He said they are looking for flexibility in the PUD regarding landscape islands. With the delivery trucks, the landscape islands are typically a problem. They changed the shape of it to extend 40 feet long not 18 feet. He added that parking in the rear will be difficult to maintain because of the trucks. They could put in islands but it is not practical in that area. They will move the trash enclosure to a more desirable location. Mr. Mosher said a statement was made that this is a low end use. This is a privately held company that is top notch. It is a very environmentally friendly business. He said they have put in extra precaution in case a car comes in that is leaking. He added that this is a high-end building.

Mr. Hayden said the Commission does not get into the financial end. They look strictly at uses and zoning.

Mr. Mosher said there is no considerable noise from the property. They do have mechanical tools and all work done inside the building. The sound is not audible at their property line. This is not a noisy, low end building. They have put a lot of work into this building. He added that they are not turning their back on the lake. They take pride in what they build and put their best foot forward there. Nothing is stored outside - not even cars overnight. The car will be inside the building.

Mr. Hayden said there was discussion of the property value of Three Oaks will be diminished. Mr. Mosher said they are improving this property and they are spending $2 million on this site. Mr. Hayden asked about the utility line burial and sidewalk install. He asked if the petitioner agrees to provide bond or letter of credit for public improvements. Mr. Mosher said they would love for the developer to do the work. Mr. Hayden said this is this petitioner’s PUD. Mr. Mosher said they will do what would be required.

Mr. Hayden turned the discussion back to the members. As was stated at the last meeting, there are concerned if this property is developed, the City will not get this back to their vision in his lifetime. He also worked on the Three Oaks Recreation Area. He cannot support this request. He would like to have them in Crystal Lake, but in another location. They need to hold onto what the TIF is all about.

Mr. Esposito said the Findings of Fact #1 is not met. He has spoken who asked about this property. When he tells them what is being proposed, they reply with “not another tire store.” This will diminish the property values.

Mr. Philpot said he is more concerned about Findings of Fact #2 - property values. He would entertain a continuation to hear from the appraiser who was not able to attend the meeting due to the holiday. He would like his expertise as to the impact on the area values.

Mr. Greenman told the petitioner not to misconstrue any comments. Their role is to look at the community and how the use falls in the future and current plans. We do want you in Crystal Lake. We have spent a significant amount of time on the TIF plan. When coming before the PZC, they look at the petition and if it is desirable in this location. He does not feel this is the right location. It is not his business to say the Community does not need another tire store. Mr. Greenman feels this is not the right location but somewhere else in Crystal Lake. He said the petitioner needs to be clear on the evidence as to the hardship for the variations. A PUD does give some leeway, but the information provided did not give him enough evidence to approve the variations. He cannot support the petition because it does not meet the Findings of Fact and the standards for PUD.

Mr. Goss said he has a problem with this petitioner having to provide a Letter of Credit and they may not get one from the other three. He voted against the subdivision. The lots are substandard in width and he needs to see the plan for the traffic circulation. He is not able to see what is going on with these lots. He said the variations for the parking setback creates the third variation and not a valid claim. If they move forward, they need to take care of all of the loose ends.

Mr. Jouron said he has been on the PZC 30 years and wanted to improve Crystal Lake. In the past they have tried to work on architecture, signs, etc. He agrees we need to push for our City. If what the City wants done with this area is not done now it would not be done. Mr. Jouron agreed that we do want this business in Crystal Lake just not this location.

Mr. Hayden asked Mr. Graft to read the letter from the appraiser. Mr. Graft read the letter, areas of grave concerns, and qualifications of appraiser from Mr. Perlow (copy attached).

Mr. Hayden asked the petitioner if they wanted to make additional comments. Mr. Mosher said the Commissioners are not opposed to this use, but not in this location. He does not see the point of continuation and asked for a vote. He heard that some of the issues are the requested variations and with adding a tree or two will not change the location of the property.

Mr. Greenman moved to deny the Preliminary Planned Unit Development for a new 8,192 square-foot retail building for Discount Tires at 5501 Northwest Highway. Mr. Esposito seconded the motion. On roll call, all members voted aye. Motion to deny passed.


Ms. Maxwell discussed the items that were reviewed by the City Council and what will be on the agenda for the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on July 17, 2019 meeting.


Mr. Greenman wished everyone a happy and safe Independence Day. There were no other comments from the Commissioners.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:45 p.m.

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City of Crystal Lake Planning & Zoning Commission