The group Protect Glen Ellyn was created to fight, ironically, against the Village of Glen Ellyn and True North Energy LLC, whose proposed and approved plan for a 12-pump gas station at Five Corners has not exactly drawn a round of applause by residents. Instead, shortly after the gas station was approved, Protect Glen Ellyn filed a lawsuit against both the Village and True North Energy. Spurred on by fund raisers and donations to continue their legal battle, Protect Glen Ellyn has won small battles along the way, the most recent being a ruling by DuPage County Judge Bonnie Wheaton which denied a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
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.
In what originally looked like last second Hail Mary attempt, this fight is now shaping up to be a true David vs Goliath matchup.
Upon hearing of the Judge’s decision not to dismiss the case, True North requested that their $630,000 purchase price be refunded in the event that they lose the legal battle. While Glen Ellyn is in no way obligated to refund True North, the Board voted 4-2 in favor of returning the funds, essentially assuming all of the risk of the lawsuit. While some residents argued that the money should not be returned, after blizting through as much red tape as they did to get this project approved, I don’t think the Village Board had much of a choice here.
The viability of the lawsuit remains to be seen, but if you take the time to read the legal complaint, it appears that they may have a legitimate case to make. Reading through paragraphs 12-23 is enlightening and I’ve pasted those below.
The case will be heard on January 25, which will hopefully result in some clarity to this horribly muddied situation.
From the legal complaint:
12. Since a gas station is not a permitted use under the C-2 Community Commercial
zoning designation which applies to the Property, True North was required to seek a special use permit from the Village.
13. On March 13, 20171, the Board inexplicably approved the special use permit,
notwithstanding a unanimous rejection of the Project by the Board’s own Plan Commission; a failure to submit the Project to its own Environmental Commission for review; the opposition of over 1,200 residents who signed an online petition opposing the Project; an objection from the Forest Glen PTA that the Project would endanger the health and safety of the students, teachers and staff at Forest Glen; a plea from the president of District 41 (which includes Forest Glen) that the Board perform its due diligence in reference to the safety and well-being of our community; and the objections of hundreds of concerned residents who appeared and spoke out in opposition
to the Project at multiple meetings of the Board, the Plan Commission, and the Architectural Review Commission.
14. In approving the special use permit, and the multitude of associated variances that
were granted along with it, the Board failed in its obligation to place the health, safety and welfare of the community over its apparent desire to maximize business development within the Village.
15. Specifically, the Board failed to consider the health dangers posed by siting a large gas station so close to a residential neighborhood and an elementary school; rejected the unanimous recommendation of its own Plan Commission to deny the special use permit; failed to consider the environmental risks posed by the Project and, refused to refer the Project to its own Environmental Commission for review; failed to conduct a proper traffic study to evaluate the increased risk to both drivers and pedestrians and, in particular, the dozens of Forest Glen schoolchildren who walk to school; failed to consider the negative impact on the values of the adjacent residential properties; failed to prepare an economic development plan for the Project, as required by the Village’s own ordinance; failed to adhere to the guidelines set forth in the Village’s
Comprehensive Plan for the Five Corners area; and otherwise failed to satisfy the requirements for granting a special use as set forth in Section 10-10-14(E) of the Village’s Zoning Ordinance. The Comprehensive Plan and Five Corners
16. In 2001, the Village adopted a Comprehensive Plan (the “Plan”) which provides a
long-range vision for physical improvement and development in the Village. The Plan provides recommendations for such things as land use, transportation, community facilities and public facilities. Pertinent sections of the Village’s 2001 Comprehensive Plan are attached hereto as Group Exhibit C.
17. Under “Community Appearance and Character,” the Plan identifies the Goal as:
“An attractive and distinctive community image that builds upon and enhances Glen Ellyn’s traditional qualities and characteristics, and distinguishes it from surrounding communities.”
18. To achieve that Goal, the Plan identifies several objectives, the first two of which
are to “maintain and enhance the Village’s ‘small town’ atmosphere and character” as well as “the attractive tree-lined streets, pedestrian scale and other distinguishing qualities of Glen Ellyn’s existing residential neighborhoods.”
19. Specifically, the Plan focuses on three “target” areas: (1) downtown; (2) Roosevelt
Road; and (3) the historic Five Corners area, also known as Stacy’s Corners. 20. Five Corners is located at the intersection of Main Street, Geneva Road, and St. Charles Road, at the northern “gateway” to the Village. It has traditionally functioned as a “small neighborhood service area” for Glen Ellyn’s northern neighborhoods. It is also the site of Stacy’s Tavern Museum, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
21. According to the Plan, Five Corners was to be revitalized “as a neighborhood
service area, a showcase for local history, and an attractive gateway to the Glen Ellyn community.” The Five Corners area is zoned C-2, Community Commercial, which is intended to “accommodate limited neighborhood retail, community and neighborhood services, and offices.” Accordingly, the Plan provides that Five Corners “should continue to consist of a mix of small retail, service, residential, public and institutional uses” and specifically notes that the commercial portion of Five Corners “should remain small and compact.”
22. The Plan encourages new uses “that would strengthen, enhance and compliment
the historical focus and character of Five Corners,” suggesting that “small restaurants and gift shops might be developed to serve visitors of the proposed Historical Center.” Indeed, the Plan even suggests that Five Corners be renamed “Stacy’s Corners” to “further promote historical connotations and enhance the distinctive character of this particular area.”
23. Most importantly, the Plan stresses that “adjacent residential neighborhoods,
which contribute to the overall character of Five Corners, should be maintained and protected.”