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Residents Disagree with Staff Report on Wilmette Marriott

The proposed six-story hotel will be discussed at Tuesday's Wilmette Plan Commission meeting.

The following letter to the editor was submitted by Larry Rogers, on behalf of residents of Lockerbie Lane and Old Glenview Road, in response to Wilmette village staff's report to the Plan Commission. 

Earlier: 

We have reviewed the staff report and must respond to the numerous material inaccuracies, omissions and unsupported conclusions set forth therein

In short, the Staff Report:

A. Fails to cite all ordinances applicable to the planned unit development.

B. Fails to identify the property included in the Application.

C. States that applicant’s proffered trivial changes have a meaningful bearing or effect on the residents’ total opposition to the PUD.

D. Incorrectly summarizes the terms of the parking easement agreement.

E. Incorrectly concludes that the goals of the comprehensive plan have been met by the application.

F. Disregards the visions of the comprehensive plan

A. Report fails to cite all ordinances applicable to the PUD

Reference is made in the report to the specific village zoning ordinances applicable to the PUD, but no reference is made to Section 15-2.3. Why? Perhaps because of the section’s requirement “that all subdivided lots shall be consistent with the density and existing pattern of development in the surrounding neighborhood.” And, by the way, the word “neighborhood” is defined as lying wholly in Wilmette. 

B. Report fails to identify the property included in the application.

We again ask what property is included in this PUD. The Village contends that both the hotel parcel and the office parcel are included. The applicant insists that only the hotel parcel is included -- not the office parcel. The final application and this report do little to resolve this conflict. The description of the request on page two of the report states that the request is for “approval of a final planned unit development submittal for a hotel located in the OR, office research, zoning district.” Yet, there are many references in the report to the office building, so the subject conflict is more confusing than ever.

As we have heretofore contended, if both parcels are included, many issues relating to the office parcel have yet to be addressed anywhere, much less in this report.

A prime example is drainage. A 4.8 acre parcel is to be divided. The engineering regarding drainage in the report relates solely to the divided 1.6 acre hotel parcel. No drainage engineering is included for the remaining office parcel, which has been reduced in size from one 4.8-acre landscaped parcel to a 3.2-acre unlandscaped, virtually impervious surface parcel. These facts must have an adverse effect on existing drainage engineering of the office parcel, if, indeed there ever was proper engineering when such parcel was developed. Lockerbie Lane has been subject to serious flooding, and we are entitled to know what these changes portend.

Referring to page of the report, it is said that:

“After the subdivision, the existing office building would have 200 parking spaces, which conforms to the parking requirement for the existing office building.”

Our questions relative to that assertion are:

a) What is the parking requirement for the “existing office building?”

b) Does the term “existing office building” include the addition now under construction?

c) Does the ordinance creating such a parking requirement permit shared parking in fulfilling such requirement?

C. Many of the residents’ issues with the PUD have not been addressed in any meaningful way

The Report includes a lengthy list of documents as constituting a part of this report, many of which were filed by adjoining residents and clearly set forth our opposition to the PUD and the reasons therefor. Most of our issues have never been addressed by staff and/or the trustees. This report is no exception.

On page five of the report, it is suggested that: 

The acknowledgment by Lockerbie residents of some cosmetic changes offered by applicant in some way resolves or lessens the opposition of these residents to the PUD.

This suggestion is repeated throughout the report and is simply totally inaccurate and misleading. A meeting was suggested by the applicant and our representatives attended, but the applicant was advised that such changes would have no bearing or effect whatsoever on our opposition to the PUD. We seriously resent the inclusion of this type of suggestion in this report and staff findings based thereon. Staff, more than anyone, is fully aware of  Lockerbieʼs unified total opposition to this PUD.

D. The report incorrectly describes the terms of the parking easement.

Staff’s comments on page five relating to the parking agreement could not be more incorrect.

Staff writes that:

“The parking agreement with the office building owner allows unlimited usage of the 47 spaces for hotel guests. Hotel employee use of the shared parking spaces is limited to between the hours of 6 p.m. until 8 a.m. the next day”

The parking agreement attached to the Final PUD is totally at odds with that summary. Such agreement provides that:

The parking spaces on the office parcel which are cross hatched (not possible to accurately count, but there are more than 20 such spaces) may be used by hotel owner’s permittees (i.e. guests) on weekdays only from 6 p.m. till 8 a.m. the following day, provided none of the cross hatched spaces may be used by employees during such hours. Further, none of the parking spaces shown as striped may be used by employees at any time.

Despite the applicant’s euphemistic characterization, such restrictions hardly result in “shared parking.” Indeed, there is not one “shared parking” space that is not restricted in some manner.

The commissioners should request the staff to furnish a copy of the site plan showing the colored cross hatched and striped parking restrictive areas referred to above. Based on the statements labeled “Easement Agreement and Restricted Covenants,” on page six of the report, the Village has apparently accepted the form of easement agreement despite its patent deficiencies. Wilmetteʼs acceptance is stated to be subject only to correctly labeling exhibits and to conforming to the submitted engineering plans. We point out that the following provisions make such Village acceptance misguided, at the very least:

11. This agreement may be “modified, amended, canceled or terminated by the written consent of the then record owners of the parcels”

12.2 Amendment. This agreement may be modified or amended, in whole or in part, or terminated [by written consent of record owners]”

In view of such provisions, it cannot be seriously contended that this “shared parking” easement is permanent.

Other easement questions include:

a)  No provision for subordination by existing lender.

b) Possible conflicts with the proposed restrictive covenant

E. The report incorrectly concludes that the goals of the comprehensive plan have been met.

Goal Four of the Plan encourages structures that are consistent with the character of the surrounding area. Staff responds that the hotel is consistent because it is adjacent to Edens Highway and Skokie office buildings. It is also adjacent to residential areas on Old Glenview Road and on Lockerbie Lane, which do not happen to be mentioned as being inconsistent.

Goal Five seeks “efficient traffic circulation, pedestrian movement, and secure convenient bicycle access, while minimizing traffic impact.” Staff responds that:

Its consultant says that the site “should” provide efficient traffic circulation” (the “should” modifier is repeated in section seven on page 11). Well the word “should” is probably a step above the word “may,” but not enough to offer much comfort with the opinion. The consultant apparently didn’t want to stick his neck out to opine as to the efficiency of pedestrian movement or bicycling on the Frontage Roads (which barely are wide enough for two lanes).

Required Finding (4) of the Plan is headed Impact on Other Property. Staff’s findings that the PUD meets these requirements are the ultimate in obfuscation. The commissioners probably know this requirement without our setting it forth verbatim. Simply put, the proposed use shall not be injurious, inconsistent, or diminish property values in the neighborhood or be incompatible with other property in the immediate vicinity. 

In the past, staff’s response to incompatibility was limited to its conclusion that the PUD was not “Incompatible with other property in the immediate vicinity.”

That is its total offer of proof! That would be comparable to alleging that the world is flat and proving such theory by stating that the world is flat.

Now staff seeks to bolster its proof by adding a sentence to the effect that the applicant had addressed neighbors’ concerns by the trivial changes mentioned above and below.

Required Finding (8) of the Plan is headed Adequate Buffering. Here we go again! Staff’s findings include the now infamous magic pill that additional landscaping was responsive to neighbors’ concerns on the project.

It is truly mind boggling how many issues that a little landscaping is claimed to have resolved. We have flooded the media and the Village with our objections to this round the clock business use in our neighborhood and all we see in response is the absurdity that the natives are now happy. Why? Because there has been additional landscaping provided on the other side of a fence seeking to separate our residences and this site.

F.  The Report fails to include the “Visions” of the plan staff is so intent on proving that the PUD meets the requirements of the comprehensive plan that it totally ignores the visions of the plan which introduce the plan and express the ultimate reason for the plan. These visions include:

“The Village should strive to preserve and enhance the aesthetic and functional qualities of life of the residential environment. The Village should promote the safety and well-being of its residents and enhance the quality and dignity of life in Wilmette.”

If the comprehensive plan is to be the underlying foundation for this PUD, why aren’t these underlying visions addressed?

Respectfully submitted,

Residents of Lockerbie Lane and Old Glenview Road


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