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  • Megann Horstead

Providence bus transportation hub approved amid opposition


New Lenox Village Board of Trustees approved Providence Catholic High School’s request June 12 asking for a special use to allow new construction of a bus transportation hub at the southwest corner of Gougar and Route 30.

In a 5-1 vote, the 17.8-acre site in question is to serve as the new home for the private school’s buses. Finnegan was the lone dissenting vote.

While many residents said they did not want the bus transportation hub in their neighborhood, they urged the board to consider the traffic along Route 30 with parking capacity and fueling times.

Providence initially requested Village authorization to put approximately 26 acres of land to new use at the corner of Gougar Road and Ferro Drive but later revised the proposal to incorporate a different location, in addition to addressing the board’s concerns about landscaping, drainage and safety. The proposal as approved allows for an estimated 600 feet of separation from nearby residential properties, whereas the original plan provided approximately 200 feet.

“[Providence] went through every possible option,” Trustee David Smith said. “This was the best one for fit.”

Several residents expressed discontent about the board’s concern given to unincorporated residents.

Mayor Tim Baldermann sought to lessen the criticism Village officials received.

“We asked constantly for there to be consideration given regardless of whether someone is incorporated or unincorporated,” he said. “If someone is going to be impacted, we do care about that.”

The property in question used to serve as a gas station dating back a number of years, Smith said.

“If you look at what that property was, the flooding you had before Providence went in there and cleaned that up [and] go back 20 years ago when you had the quarry on the other side of… the Old Wabash Railroad, the water would percolate through your basement,” Smith said.

Trustee David Butterfield went on to agree, and referred to the new proposed location as being the “simplest solution” to the problem.

Trustee Doug Finnegan disagreed.

“I’m sorry it may be a simple solution, but I just personally believe there are other avenues that need to be looked at,” he said. “These concerns are the exact concerns that were brought up at the other location that were basically shot down without going through a formal vote when we were talking about the Ferro location. I do not see the distinction… between the two locations to be able to support this.”

Trustee Annette Bowden was absent from the meeting.

Also during that meeting, New Lenox officials reviewed a special use for the proposed Rock Island Station Shopping Center.

The request, if approved, will allow for the construction of a CVS Pharmacy and an 8,400-square-foot multi-tenant building to the east of that.

“We’re excited to see this move forward,” Baldermann said.

The Plan Commission last discussed the matter in May, at which point a number of concerns were presented by residents but later addressed.

The CVS Pharmacy requires a number of deviations from municipal codes, and Village staff supports the petitioner’s requests.

For a number of years, the property in question struggled to develop, Baldermann said.

“The board, I believe, very wisely stepped in at a much lower price than private development was able to do,” he said. “[The Village] purchased all these properties.”

New Lenox officials wanted to demolish the property and redevelop the land.

The Village was required to work with several agencies to propel the project forward.

“There were quite a few agencies that we had to deal with,” Baldermann said. “It was not just a matter of the Village saying, ‘Yes, this is OK.’”

The construction of the shopping center development, if approved, is to be completed by the end of next year.

Attorney Andrew Kolb spoke on behalf of the petitioners and said this development has been a long time coming, but it has been worth it.

“I think this latest site plan and elevations represents a lot of compromise on behalf of CVS,” he said. “We’re happy to make those compromises, and we think the plan is going to be great for the community. We look forward to getting started.”

The matter will be up for consideration at the board’s June 26 meeting.

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