It all began back in 2010, as the real estate market was limping along with the rest of the country during the recession, the Village of Glen Ellyn decided to purchase a lonely parcel of land that was previously home to a Marathon gas station at the southeast portion of the intersection at Five Corners. As the northern gateway to the village, and home to historic Stacy’s Tavern, Five Corners holds more significance to Glen Ellyn than a typical run-of-the-mill intersection. The village viewed this piece of land as an eyesore, and as one of the first things people saw when entering Glen Ellyn from the north, it only made sense to buy the land, clean it up and develop it.
In November of 2009 Glen Ellyn reached what at the time was a low point in the median sales price of single family homes at $302,500 and it looked as though the market may have finally hit bottom and would begin to rebound. Real estate appeared to be back on the upswing in late 2010, and at the time of the purchase in September of that year the median sales price in Glen Ellyn was up to $342,500. While that number would eventually crash down to a low of $295,000 in September of 2012, anyone who bought real estate in 2010 is now enjoying a nice return on their investment. After being valued at $1.4 million in 2005, the village acquired the land for just $590,000.
Glen Ellyn solicited requests for proposals from investors in 2012 but received just two responses, one of them being plans for a gas station that fell through. Another attempt was made in 2014, but this time around the village received no viable proposals. After their second failed attempt at finding a proper use for the space, in August of 2015 the village sold the property to True North Energy LLC for $630,000.
A little less than seven years after their original purchase of the land, plans for the new gas station began to move forward this past March. It was full speed ahead from that point, despite increasingly heated opposition from residents, as well as a unanimous denial from the plan commission to provide an exception that would allow a special-use permit needed to pave the way towards the future gas station.
While this unanimous decision seemed like a decisive win for opponents of the project, the plan commission serves only to advise and provide recommendations, and does not have any authority over decision making.
“With opaque transparency, the board pushed a special use permit for the land through in three weeks. In so doing, the board overturned the unanimous vote by the planning commission to reject the special use application — an unprecedented move.” – Andrew Livingston in a letter to the editor in the Daily Herald on March 29.
Despite seemingly no one in favor of the project and over 1,000 signatures on a petition to prevent it, the Glen Ellyn Village Board voted 5-0 to approve the gas station and a 4200 square foot convenience store in late April, with a few variations intended to appease the opponents of the project.
These variations included a change from being open 24-hours to a midnight closing, reopening at 5 a.m., in addition to added landscaping which would theoretically give more of a buffer to the neighbors of the site.
While these concessions were a step in the right direction, concerns remain about the proximity of a 12-pump gas station to nearby Forest Glen Elementary School, as opponents cited benzene fumes from the gas as a cancer risk to kids. For a full read on the concerns of residents, check out Protect Glen Ellyn.
Those behind Protect Glen Ellyn have now filed a lawsuit against both the Village and the gas station operator True North. Here’s the official statement from their website:
On May 22, 2017, Protect Glen Ellyn, Inc. filed suit against the Village of Glen Ellyn and True North Energy, LLC regarding the planned gas station development at Five Corners. This Complaint is seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to affirm the Plaintiff’s real property and due process rights, and to enforce the Village of Glen Ellyn’s Zoning Ordinance against itself.
We believe in full transparency – feel free to read the 200+ page legal Complaint here.
To those following this project it’s been one cruel roller coaster ride, with the lawsuit filing representing a last ditch effort. At the very least, if the project does move forward as planned, the outrage by neighbors and residents has caused the developers to make over 30 changes to the original proposal, according to the Daily Herald:
The development has been the subject of more than a dozen village meetings and hours of public comment. That input from neighbors and village staffers led developers to make more than 30 revisions to their proposal since early 2016, resulting in an improved project, village officials say.
The next step in determining the future of this project will be on September 18, when DuPage judge Bonnie Wheaton is set to have a status hearing on the lawsuit.
(UPDATE: Judge Bonnie Wheaton denied motions to dismiss the case. The case will be heard on January 25, 2018)