Village of New Lenox Zoning Board of Appeals met Feb. 21.
Village of New Lenox Zoning Board of Appeals met Feb. 21.
Here is the minutes provided by the Board:
A regular meeting of the Village of New Lenox Zoning Board of Appeals was called to order at 7:31 p.m. by Chairman Mark Muehlnickel.
Upon roll call, the following were present: Chairman Mark Muehlnickel, Commissioners Rob Moss, Terry Schultz, Kathy Hilton, Jasen Howard and Andrew Hawkins.
The following were absent: Commissioner Gary Berner.
Chairman Muehlnickel announced there was a quorum present for this meeting.
Also present were Senior Planner Jeff Smith, Planner Jenni Neubauer and Senior Administrative Secretary Patricia Hansen.
Request for Approval of Minutes of a Regular Zoning Board of Appeals Meeting of Jan. 17, 2017
A motion was made by Commissioner Hilton and seconded by Commissioner Moss to approve the January 17, 2017 minutes as presented. Voice vote was taken. Motion carried.
Request for Parking, Drive-Thru Stacking and Landscape Variances
(Public Hearing) 273 E. Haven Avenue (Route 30) Amin Panjwani / Dunkin’ Donuts – Petitioner
Mr. Muehlnickel asked if proof of notice has been received, and Mr. Smith replied affirmatively.
Mr. Muehlnickel asked for a motion to open the public hearing.
A motion was made by Mr. Hawkins and seconded by Mr. Schultz to open the public hearing at 7:32 p.m. Voice vote was taken. Motion carried.
Mr. Sadiq Poonawala introduced himself to the Zoning Board, and explained that he is a multi-unit manager for Dunkin’ Donuts. He said they currently have 29 locations and this would be the 30th location. He said that if everything goes well, they intend to break ground in April.
Mr. Smith explained they have been working with the applicant and his architect for some time. He said they acquired the former Statuary property, but it was determined that the site was not large enough to accommodate a Dunkin’ Donuts and a second desired retail tenant space, so they acquired additional land. Mr. Smith continued by stating that even with the additional land acquisition, the proposed plans necessitate a few deviations from the Zoning Ordinance. He said the petitioner, as well as Staff want to make the site as safe and efficient as possible, and at the same time address emergency access.
Mr. Smith related that the Zoning Ordinance requires a minimum of 32 off-street parking spaces for Dunkin’ Donuts (25 required parking spaces) and the future retail tenant space (7 required parking spaces), and the submitted plans propose a total of 24 off-street parking spaces. Additionally, he said the proposed drive-through restaurant configuration depicts only 1 stacking space after the pick-up window as opposed to the requirement to provide a minimum of 2 stacking spaces. Finally, he said the submitted plan does not meet the minimum 20-foot interior parkway buffer yard setback along the complete Route 30 frontage since a variable reduced buffer yard as narrow as 10 feet, 8-inches is necessary to allow a fire truck to adequately maneuver around the front of the site.
Mr. Smith continued by stating Village Code requires that 3 criteria must be satisfied for a variance to be granted, and that it is Staff’s opinion that the three requested variances do meet the criteria listed in Staff’s report. In looking at the parking, he said Dunkin’ Donuts is primarily a drive-through user, and their peak morning hours are between 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Mr. Smith said the future tenant is anticipated for retail use, and will likely be closed during that time morning peak period. He continued by stating Dunkin’ Donuts anticipates about 5 employees and during the peak hours of operation, there will be 19 spaces available for inside patrons.
Mr. Smith said that regarding the stacking of cars, speed of service is important to Dunkin’ Donuts. He said a survey of various Dunkin’ Donuts in the area was taken, and it was reported that during the peak morning hours, the wait time was no more than 100 seconds per customer. Mr. Smith related that Staff also researched a national study that was done on a number of drive-through restaurants throughout the country and Dunkin’ Donuts was one of the most efficient, quickest speed of service drive-through. Based on the speed of service, he said providing one stacking space would be adequate for this user.
In terms of the reduced interior parkway, Mr. Smith said life safety is a very important issue, and having a slightly reduced interior parkway so as to provide adequate space for a fire truck to maneuver along the front of the site is an acceptable compromise. He said Ms. Neubauer is currently reviewing their landscape plans and these plans must meet all requirements with regard to buffering and landscaping along Route 30, landscaping along the perimeters of the site, along the foundation, as well as areas along the back of the building. Mr. Smith noted Staff has no objection to the reduced interior parkway. He continued by stating the Route 30 Corridor Plan looks for re-development opportunities; this is located next to the Metra Station as well as a potential future apartment project. Mr. Smith pointed out it makes a lot of sense for this use to be located at this location.
Additionally, Mr. Smith said Staff recommends that the ordinance granting the variance include the following conditions: employees for both tenants shall park in the parking spaces situated at the far northwest corner of the parking lot, parking stalls 12-20 (to be determined once the number of employees are confirmed for both tenants) depicted on the site plan; also, in the event that the 1,250- square foot tenant space is proposed to be occupied by a sit-down restaurant or any other permitted commercial use resulting in more than an 8-stall parking deficiency for the two-tenant commercial building, then another future variance shall be required before such use can be established.
Overall, Mr. Smith said it is Staff’s opinion that the 3 variances meet the criteria for the granting of the variances, and Staff recommends approval subject to the two conditions just mentioned.
Mr. Muehlnickel remarked that a lot of time went into this, and it shows.
Mr. Schultz said he is in favor of approving the variances, but said he works in Chicago and the Dunkin’ stores in the City have a problem with being so busy that the cars pulling into the drive-through begin stacking on the City streets. Mr. Schultz said this also interferes with the visibility of people trying get out of the drive-through. He said he has seen several accidents per year because of this issue. Mr. Schultz said he wonders if this could occur in New Lenox, especially because of the way the road curves.
Mr. Hawkins said he shares the same concerns, and that sometimes the cars entering the drive-through at the Dunkin’ Donuts located on Laraway Road are sometimes stacked across the Walgreens parking lot.
Mr. Moss said he frequents Dunkin’ Donuts in Mokena, experiences the same problems and said it is a disaster.
Mr. Smith said Dunkin’ Donuts will provide for a pass-by lane, so if someone decides to get out, there is room to get around. He said they are meeting the stacking requirements prior to the menu board, while there is a significant distance from the proposed Route 30 driveway curb cut to the drive-thru entrance that can address some rare cases when there may be more drive-thru vehicles. Mr. Smith also noted that at the Laraway center, there is cross-access between adjoining parking lots near the drive-thru entrance as well as close proximity to a right-in/right-out curb cut along Laraway Road, sometimes adding to the congestion.
Mr. Schultz asked if there is any way to create an exit on the back side of the property. Mr. Smith replied that it is Lincoln Station property and it contains many natural restraints that does not allow for a cross-access.
Mr. Mario Valentini of MRV Architects explained that in previous site plans, there were some entrances on the west side of the Maple Avenue frontage. Besides the fact that there are grading issues all over the site, he said there were issues with fire hydrants and utility poles. Mr. Valentini said they are at the minimum distances that they can be so that all of these pieces can fall into place. He said the design is a natural counter-clockwise rotation, which is needed for a drive-through. Once a car reaches the very north portion of the drive-through lane, there is still a good opportunity for a few cars stack along the east property line, if necessary. Mr. Valentini acknowledged there is a pinch point with one of the aprons, but they would rather have that pinch point at the exiting site as opposed to the entrance site. He noted that people are not going full-speed at that point.
Mr. Howard said it appears an existing streetlight remains about a foot to the west of the proposed Route 30 driveway and an existing utility pole is about 2 feet to the west of the driveway. He asked if there are other instances in town in which streetlights and utility poles are that close proximity to the curb cut, and
Mr. Smith replied that the placement of streetlights and utility poles is ultimately up to IDOT to approve. Mr. Valentini said they are proposing a 30 ft. apron, and this is pretty much the maximum. He explained that they could narrow it, but want to provide options for the turns. Mr. Valentini said he just received a copy of the completed civil engineering plans which take into account the grading. He said the engineer spoke to him today about significant grade changes, noting that the height of the curb is not the same as the grading at the base of the utility pole, so these grading issues will have to be worked out. Mr. Howard asked if in the future, there is an increase in the number of accident at this location, can the entrance/exit be adjusted to a “right in/right out” access. Mr. Smith answered that it would be up to IDOT, and that it is currently proposed for a full-access. Mr. Valentini said they soon hope to have an IDOT review in hand, at least from a preliminary standpoint. Mr. Smith said it will be necessary to have some response from IDOT prior to this request going before the Village Board for final approval. Mr. Hawkins asked if they will be required to provide striping for the bicycle crossing. Mr. Smith responded by stating anything on Route 30 would be under IDOT’s jurisdiction, but ramps will be required where the Route 30 sidewalk will meet the proposed new Route 30 driveway curb cut. In terms of the sidewalk that fronts the property, he said Staff would look at it through the site plan review process as well as IDOT’s review.
Mr. Schultz asked what the status of the Lincoln Station is, and Mr. Smith said their preliminary P.U.D. plat was recently extended for a period of 6 months. He said they are currently going through the Army Corps of Engineers process. Mr. Smith said that acquisition of additional property from the developers of Lincoln Station is unrealistic due to all of the natural features, grading issues, and wetlands.
Mr. Muehlnickel said he noticed that in the front of the building, there is an ornamental fence and a sidewalk. He asked if there will be outdoor seating. Mr. Smith replied that that there will not be any outdoor seating, and furthermore, the fence is more for safety because of all of the vehicles exiting the drive-thru. If proposed in the future, Mr. Smith noted that an outdoor patio with tables and seating will require a Special Use permit, which may unlikely receive support since it will trigger an even greater onsite parking deficiency. Mr. Schultz asked if there will be any blind spots for those exiting onto Route 30 as a result of the fence. Mr. Valentini said the fence can be considered more of a pedestrian guard rail.
Mr. Moss asked Mr. Valentini if he knows who will be leasing the space next to Dunkin’ Donuts, and Mr. Valentini answered that they are not yet sure at this time.
At this time, Mr. Muehlnickel asked for a motion to close the public hearing.
A motion was made by Mr. Howard and seconded by Mr. Moss to close the public hearing at 7:57 p.m. Voice vote was taken. Motion carried.
Mr. Muehlnickel asked for a recommendation from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
A motion was made by Ms. Hilton and seconded by Mr. Moss to recommend to the Village Board approval of the following variances for the proposed commercial redevelopment of the 0.65 property located at 273 East Maple Street:
1. to reduce the minimum number of required off-street parking spaces from 32 parking spaces to 24 parking spaces;
2. to reduce the minimum number of required drive-through stacking spaces after the pick- up window from 2 stacking spaces to 1 stacking space;
3. to reduce the minimum required interior parkway landscape buffer yard from 20 feet to a minimum of 10 feet, 8-inches.
Additionally, the following conditions are recommended for the variances requests:
1. Employees for both tenants shall park in the remote parking spaces situated at the far northwest corner of the parking lot, such as parking stalls 12-20 (to be determined once the number of employees are confirmed for both tenants) depicted on the site plan.
2. In the event that the 1,250-square foot tenant space is proposed to be occupied by a sit-down restaurant or any other permitted commercial use resulting in more than an 8-stall parking deficiency for the two-tenant commercial building, then another future variance shall be required before such use can be established.
Upon roll call, the vote was:
Ayes: - Mr. Moss, Mr. Schultz, Ms. Hilton, Mr. Howard, Mr. Hawkins, Mr.
Nays: - None.
Mr. Muehlnickel asked for a motion to adjourn at 8:00 p.m. A motion was made by Commissioner Hilton and seconded by Commissioner Schultz to adjourn. Voice vote was taken. Motion carried.