Residents express concern over shopping center development
Redevelopment could be in the works for property at the northeast corner of Cedar Road and U.S. Route 30 to include CVS Pharmacy, Fleckenstein’s Bakery, Durbin’s Pizza, a deli and a jewelry store.
Plans for the Rock Island Station Shopping Center were reviewed at a May 16 public hearing with the Village’s plan commission.
In a pair of 5-0 votes, a proposal to redevelop 2.8 acres comprised of two lots was recommended for approval.
“As you probably know, it’s been a long road to get to this point,” said Kelly Bartelson, a legal assistant speaking on behalf of the petitioners. “The Village has invested a considerably amount of time and effort getting this site ready for us to be here.”
Since the last time Village staff reviewed the project, a number of suggestions were made and taken into consideration by the petitioners with regard to building materials, elevation and awnings.
Attendee Robert Buonadonna, of New Lenox, questioned if there will be a stoplight installed along Route 30 and said his concern is for safety.
“You realize, of course, how dangerous, how congested that area is now without this project without having a traffic control light there,” he said. “You gentlemen really need to think about that. I drive that street every single day. A lot of people are making a lot of stupid mistakes making left-hand turns onto [Route] 30 from wherever they are.”
Buonadonna added this is a mistake not to consider adding such a measure.
“I just think something got missed here,” he said. “I’m kind of surprised nobody thought about people making left-hand turns out of this project. Because they’re going to want to do it and unfortunately, that’s a very busy area all during the day.”
However, Village officials agreed the proposal makes an effort to promote greater efficiency with traffic flow. IDOT does not require the use of a stoplight.
The development, as a whole, intends to consolidate access to the shopping center to three main points.
IDOT is requiring traffic flow improvements that extend the existing left turn lane serving Church Street. That entrance will be shifted from the north to the east away from the Cedar Road intersection to create a five-lane roadway to the east side of the development.
To the east of the proposed development in question, the Village is also working on plans to redesign the existing Metra station’s parking lot to incorporate a more efficient layout for traffic flow and storm water detention.
“This is a very key development area for the Village,” said Jeff Smith, a village planner. “Being off Route 30 and Cedar Road as well as being in close proximity to the Metra station, this is a very high-target area in terms of traffic, and the Village takes the development of this project very seriously.”
Village staff does not view any objections to the set of requested deviations from municipal zoning codes. Such measures include efforts to enhance coordination of storm water detention and traffic flow.
The mixed-use project aligns with the village’s Route 30 plan as well as its comprehensive plan.
“This project will hopefully spur other new development [and] redevelopment in the surrounding areas,” Smith said.
Attorney Andrew Kolb spoke on behalf of the petitioners and tried to further the point raised by Smith.
“This is kind of the quintessential site that I’ve seen over the last 10-year period that CVS looks at,” he said. “It’s at the intersection of an Illinois route... and it’s a cross street with a busy access. I think they’re taking a site, here, that’s a former issue with an environmental concern, mediating the concern and adding value, a significant investment to a site that’s not that readily developable by your typical restaurateur, for example. I think it provides some unique challenges for a developer to take the site and work it, and I think CVS is the perfect candidate for a site like this.”
Plan commission member Andrew Hawkins said he supports the project.
“Overall, I do believe this is a great reuse of the site redevelopment,” he said. “One of the things I’ve mentioned before [with] all the redevelopment going on along Route 30, we’re missing opportunities to put in a bike trail… especially with the Metra getting people to the Metra station and all this new development here.”
Hawkins added this is something to take a closer look at moving forward.
“We’re just falling short,” he said. “I know it’s piecemeal, but there are areas along Route 30 where we can definitely pinch down into the five-foot wide sidewalk that I don’t think they’re using or they’re underutilized.”
The matter is to be reviewed by New Lenox officials at the board’s June 12 meeting, at which point submittal of final plans for engineering and landscaping, a resolution and staff’s approval are required.
“We look forward to becoming a part of the community pending approval of the [Planned Unit Development,]” Kolb said.
Plan commission members Gary Berner and Terry Schultz were absent from the meeting.