McHenry Times

McHenry Times

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

City of Crystal Lake Planning and Zoning Commission met October 16

By Michael Abella | Nov 28, 2019


City of Crystal Lake Planning and Zoning Commission met Oct. 16.

Here is the minutes provided by the commission:

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

Elizabeth Maxwell, City Planner, and Katie Cowlin, Assistant City Planner, were present from Staff.

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

Mr. Greenman 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. Goss moved to approve the minutes from the September 4, 2019 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting as presented. Mr. Esposito seconded the motion. On roll call, members Esposito, Goss, Philpot, and Skluzacek voted aye. Mr. Greenman abstained. Motion passed.


A motion is requested to approve the 2020 PZC meeting dates.

Mr. Goss moved to approve the 2020 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting dates as presented. Mr. Skluzacek seconded the motion. On roll call, all members voted aye. Motion passed.

Mr. Greenman said they will suspend the agenda and move the request for 1153 North Shore Drive to be heard first.


Variation from Article 7 Nonconformities to allow: A. the reconstruction of a structure or portion of a

structure which was destroyed/removed by more than 50%; and B. the increase in the nonconforming structure by increasing the volume of the area.

Joe Gottemoller, attorney, was present to represent the petition. Mr. Gotttemoller asked for the request to be continued to the November 6, 2019 PZC meeting.

Mr. Goss moved to continued PLN-2019-064 1153 North Shore Drive to the November 6, 2019 PZC meeting. Mr. Skluzacek seconded the motion. On voice vote, all members voted aye. Motion passed.

2019-160 BOHL FARM MARKETPLACE – 5500 Northwest Hwy. – PUBLIC HEARING

Final Planned Unit Development Amendment to allow exterior changes to the building façade and signage including an additional variation for increased wall signage and a third free-standing sign.

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

Jeff Brownell, architect, and Greg Waldo, with Freddys, were present to represent the petition. Mr. Brownell this is the former Five Below outbuilding. They are dividing the building into three tenant spaces. Freddys will have one of the end units, McAlisters will be at the other end with no one currently for the center space. Currently, building has one entrance and they need to modify the front facade to have three entrances, construct a drive through for Freddys, reconfigure the front parking, relocate the trash enclosure, and create two outside patios. With the reconfiguration of the parking, the number of spaces will increase.

Mr. Greenman asked if there were any concerns with the conditions listed in the staff report. Mr. Brownell said they would like to eliminate the knee wall. They would prefer the glass to go to the bottom. One of the tenants would like a knee wall and the other would prefer not to have one. It would look odd if the spaces were not consistent. Also, staff is suggesting to take the elements on the front of the building and wrap it around the side, which they do not have a problem doing. They will move the drive through menu board up one car in the stacking lane. Mr. Brownell said he was not sure where staff would like the landscaping on the east side since there is a sidewalk ramp be along the building. Mr. Greenman said the petitioner is ok with all of the conditions except for 3a regarding the knee wall. Mr. Brownell said they do not want to do it for one space and not for the other spaces. It would look strange. Ms. Maxwell said that is one of the design standards in the UDO. It is for safety reasons, as well as, aesthetics. As for the landscape along east side of the building, they did not know the full extent of sidewalk and it could possibly be limited to the beginning of the drive aisle of the drive through and along the wall since it is blank. Mr. Greenman said the Commissioners could possibility reword the condition to work with staff on the landscaping. Mr. Brownell said they could add a planter between the walk and the wall.

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

Mr. Goss said he is having a difficult time with the request for the monument sign. These are small units out by street and they will have wall signs. He suggested they add a condition covering the third unit of the building to allow similar signage allowed for the other two units. That would save them from having to come back again. Mr. Brownell said there is an odd landscape island on the west side of the building. They thought it was for a monument sign for the original tenant, Pier One, but there is no electric to that area. Mr. Goss said people will know they are there with the building signs. He likes the building changes. He added that during the winter it will be difficult to get trash out to the relocated enclosure. There is no place for them to stand other than in the drive through. Mr. Waldo said stacking eight cars in the drive through is more than they need. Typically their drive through is about 20% of their business.

Mr. Skluzacek said he likes what they are doing and does not feel an additional monument sign is necessary.

Mr. Esposito said they have enough wall signage and do not need the monument sign. As for the knee wall, he prefers it. He added that someone close to him died sitting in a sandwich shop when a car went through the front window that did not have a knee wall. He is not in favor of eliminating the knee wall.

Mr. Philpot said he is excited the businesses are coming to Crystal Lake and it is a great location across from the Three Oaks Recreation Area. He agrees that the monument sign is not needed.

Mr. Greenman reviewed the comments made by the Commissioners. He agrees that a monument sign is not needed. The visibility of the building is great. Regarding the knee wall, he thinks they are trying to be consistent. Mr. Greenman said they do not want things to all look the same, but we do have design standards, which includes knee walls. He believes they will be successful at this location and he is comfortable with everything else presented.

Mr. Brownell asked if the Commissioners would be in favor of the monument sign if it were reduced. Mr. Greenman took a straw poll of the Commissioners and all they did not want a monument sign. He reminded the petitioner that they are a recommending body and the City Council will make the final decision.

Mr. Goss moved to approve the Final Planned Unit Development Amendment to allow exterior changes to the building façade and signage including an additional variation for increased wall signage and a third free- standing sign for Bohl Farm Marketplace at 5500 Northwest Highway with the following conditions:

1. Approved plans, reflecting staff and advisory board recommendations, as approved by the City Council:

A. Application (IRC Retail Centers, received 09/23/19)

B. Narrative(PFDAArchitects,dated09/20/19,received09/23/19)

C. Elevation,sheetA2(PFDAArchitects,dated09/20/19,received09/23/19)

D. Signs ([Freddy’s – Tri City, dated 09/16/19, received 09/23/19], [McAlisters – IRC, undated, received 09/23/19], [Free-Standing monument – Olympic Signs, dated 09/18/19, received 09/23/19])

E. Floor Plan, sheet A1 (PFDA Architects, dated 09/20/19, received 09/23/19)

F. Landscape Plan (Mackie Consultants, dated 09/23/19, received 09/23/19)

G. Site Plan (PFDA Architects, dated 09/20/19, received 09/23/19)

2. The overall planned unit development approval and all subsequent amendments are still in effect unless modified by this ordinance.

3. Architectural Elevations

A. Add in the knee wall across the front of the glass façade except at door locations.

B. For the front elevated entrance feature, provide a return of at least 3 feet, to eliminate the “Texas town” style element.

C. Provide awnings on the rear elevation over the two other tenant spaces.

4. Landscape Plan

A. Provide landscape material, to be reviewed and approved by staff, for the east elevation, to break up the blank façade.

5. Provide a cornice top element on the proposed monument sign, to match the other freestanding signage in the development. Eliminate the outlot free standing sign.

6. The petitioner must address all of the review comments and requirements of the Community Development, Fire Rescue, Police, and Public Works Departments.

7. The center tenant of the outlot building is allowed two 50 square-foot signs.

Mr. Philpot seconded the motion. On roll call, all members voted aye. Motion passed.


Conceptual review to convert the former Faith Lutheran High School and the Immanuel Lutheran buildings to multi-family residential

Mr. Greenman stated this request is for a Conceptual review.

Joe Gottemoller, attorney, and George Ieremciuc, petitioner, Chris Wichman, architect, were present to represent the request. Mr. Gottemoller said this property is the original Immanuel Lutheran Church, both additions of the school, the church and two buildings along Church Street. Their plan is to convert all of the buildings to approximately 36 apartments. There would be 28 in the school buildings, two each in the homes, and six in the church. There would be a variety of apartment sizes. Mr. Gottemoller said they are trying to keep the outside of the building as close to what it currently looks like. The windows will be changed and most of the changes will be on the inside of the buildings. He said there are 81 parking spaces on site, which is more than what they need. They cannot go much smaller in density with the buildings of this size unless you take down a building or two. Mr. Gottemoller said the parking will have a better situation than what was there previously. The traffic will be less than what the site was designed for. He showed the floor plan of the large building, which is two floors. He reminded everyone that this is a concept plan, and it is a creative reuse of the buildings. Also, there is a cross access agreement when the high school was using the property.

Mr. Greenman thanked those in attendance for coming and being interested in this request. This is not a public hearing, but the Commissioners would like to get as much feedback as possible.

Rob Fisher, 175 McHenry Avenue, lives across the street from the church. They knew that something would be going in there eventually. They are concerned with traffic and if there will be a traffic signal at that corner in the future. Mr. Fisher said they are generally ok with the concept. He asked if there could be landscaping added to buffer the parking lot. He also asked if the steeples were going to stay. Mr. Gottemoller said the steeples will remain.

Mary Frake, 163 McHenry Avenue, said she understands this is a concept plan. She said this property is unique and historic. The City has done a great job of reinvigorating the downtown area. She is not opposed to a residential use and prefers single family and multi-family units, which are similar to the existing neighborhood. There are density restrictions for a reason and this is not a high density area. Ms. Frake understands the uniqueness of the property and possibly condos.

Randy Peters, 191 McHenry Avenue, said his home has been here for over 100 years and is concerned that this is low income housing. What will that do to his property value? The market is low enough now and values are down. He said there will be more impact on the neighborhood from the apartments than with the church and school. He said the Commissioners need to look at this from the perspective of a home owner. Mr. Peters also asked who will be living in those apartments.

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

Mr. Greenman reviewed the comments presented by public – density, landscaping, traffic, and property value. He did not hear any opposition to residential.

Mr. Gottemoller said this development is not intended to be low income apartments. He said Mr. Ieremciuc has two other similar projects in Crystal Lake. One is on Coventry Lane – the first office building south of Route 14. These buildings are already up and they original plans were for 60+ units but brought the number down. Most of the apartments will be 1 and 2 bedroom units. They are not changing the façade so it would not have a large impact on the neighborhood. Mr. Gottemoller said that since this is a conceptual review, a traffic study has not been done yet. McHenry Avenue is a very busy street and takes more traffic than most neighbors would want with the library, elementary school and high school in the immediate area. He suggested the neighbors go to the Coventry building to see the type of units that are proposed here.

Mr. Greenman asked about the possibility of screening the parking lot. Mr. Gottemoller said there are landscape requirements and a landscape plan has not been designed yet. Mr. Greenman said this is a conceptual review, which is an opportunity to have an informal conversation. Being residents of Crystal Lake, the Commissioners do think of any petition as if it were next to their own home.

Mr. Philpot said the product is very interesting. He has lived in Crystal Lake all of his life and doesn’t believe he ever thought of these buildings as being future apartments. He would prefer the apartments than having vacant buildings. He asked that the unit sizes would be with main building and the different types of apartments. Mr. Wichman said the majority of the apartments will be 1-bedroom - 700-900 square feet; 2-bedroom – 1200 square feet; in the gym – minimum 2,000 square feet. Mr. Philpot asked if there will be a laundry room in each unit. Mr. Ieremciuc said yes. Mr. Philpot said this density does exceed allowable density. Mr. Ieremciuc said there will be a lot of dead space in the development for exercise equipment, etc. The apartments will be larger than some of the homes in the area.

Mr. Philpot asked if there is a time frame. Mr. Gottemoller said they will still need to go through the City’s process and provide all of the required plans. Mr. Philpot asked about the rental rates for the units. Mr. Ieremciuc said they will be $1,200+. Mr. Philpot said this is interesting and understands about the density. It is an interesting use for the building and he does not know what would be a better use for the buildings.

Mr. Esposito said this would not be the first time a church has been converted into living space. It is interesting and the buildings look the same. The density is somewhat of a problem. He knows they are looking for commuters to live there and walk to station. He also would suggest putting a plaque somewhere to let people know what the buildings were. He also suggested people take a look at what was done at the Coventry building. It is a class job. Mr. Esposito said the traffic is a concern on McHenry Avenue. Part of the problem is the high school traffic. People will find a way around the area. He likes the idea and suggested possibly reducing the density a little. Mr. Esposito said the steeples will cost a lot of money in the future to maintain.

Mr. Skluzacek does not know what else could be put in those buildings. Offices would not work. He can live with the density. There will be some traffic that will go down Maple and Pomeroy, etc. There will be a little heavy traffic, but he does not believe it will be bad. He does not want the buildings to be taken down.

Mr. Goss said the neighborhood would be completely different without these buildings. The bulk of the traffic will be on Maple for people to go downtown. He asked if the units will be ADA compliant. Mr. Ieremciuc said they will be and the buildings will be sprinklered. Mr. Goss said to maintain the structures that are there and not change the neighborhood is good. He said the density is acceptable. Not having garages may be a problem.

Ms. Cowlin showed photos of the apartments on Coventry that were done by Mr. Ieremciuc. Mr. Goss said the only difference is there are more windows.

Mr. Greenman said it is great to have Mr. Ieremciuc back in front of them and being committed to our community. He asked what type of potential renters they are looking for. Mr. Ieremciuc said in the Coventry building there is a mix of singles, couples 70+, newly married. It is a nice mix. Mr. Greenman asked about amenities. Mr. Ieremciuc said there will be an exercise room, not sure if there would be a play ground. There will be plenty of room, but he does not see any use for them. There may be a gazebo and grilling area. Mr. Greenman said he appreciates the buildings remaining. He cannot support the density that would be needed. Also, the traffic will change the dynamics of the area. This would also require a Comprehensive Land Use Plan change and rezoning. He struggles with that. Mr. Greenman said it is good to have a conceptual review so they all can discuss this informally. Mr. Ieremciuc said he has done this for 30+ years. He does not want low income housing. The density currently is 12 per acre. If it were single family they would be allowed 9 per acre. They are very close. Mr. Greenman said traffic today is much different and not going to get any better. He does not believe there will be a traffic signal at that intersection. People will find a way and need to be aware of it. Whatever plan presented in future needs to keep that in mind. We appreciate giving us an opportunity to review this and have community comment.


Ms. Maxwell discussed the items that were reviewed by the City Council and the items that will be on the agenda for the November 6, 2019 meeting.


Mr. Goss asked if Maple Street had curb and gutter. Ms. Maxwell said no and she is not aware of any plans to add that. There were a few issues with flooding. Mr. Goss said the water usage will increase and that may need to be improved.

There were no other comments from the Commissioners. The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 p.m.

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City of Crystal Lake Planning & Zoning Commission