Concept plans for two new subdivisions drew a decidedly mixed review from Plainfield Village Board trustees Monday, who questioned the high number of homes proposed for land that’s currently zoned for one to two houses per acre.
The first development, known as the Birkett Property, would feature 108 “manor” homes and 114 townhomes on 102 acres on 119th Street, east of Route 59 and west of Plainfield Naperville Road. The second, known as the Brummel Property, calls for 102 single-family homes and 93 townhomes on 55 acres on 127th Street, east of Route 59 and west of the DuPage River.
Both have a significantly higher number of units than the low-density zoning cited on the village’s comprehensive plan, so the question becomes whether the board wants to abandon that plan in favor of green-lighting new housing in what has become a dormant real estate market.
Attorney Richard Guerard, representing developer Melrose Holding Inc. of Lombard, said the board must be cognizant of the fact that the market has changed due to the economy and that it’s unlikely either parcel would be developed with so few houses per acre.
There are too many undeveloped lots of that size in Plainfield, and the demand for other types of housing stock is growing, Guerard said. In particular, developments that feature small lot sizes and provide all of the street and landscaping maintenance on behalf of the property owners – known as manor housing – appeal to an aging population, he said.
“Times have changed for us; the world has changed,” he said. “(The shifts) are dramatic, and it’s not changing. Housing is not leading us out of (the recession).”
Neither property is currently part of the village, but would be annexed in as part of the development plan. Guerard also said construction would not start before 2012 or 2013 and that it would be slow and done over a period of several years.
Presenting a concept plan to the village board is a preliminary step in the development process. It’s designed to feel out board members on whether they like a proposal and to get their input on changes that should be made before the plan is formally presented for approval.
The chief concern voiced Monday centered on the number of units in both projects, which are two to three times higher than what’s called for in the comprehensive plan.
“I’m very concerned about the density in both parcels,” Trustee Paul Fay said. “More than one development has failed miserably with smaller lots.”
While there was interest in the manor concept, trustees said they were not keen on the developer’s request to have privately owned and maintained streets in Birkett development and part of the Brummel development.
The problem is homeowners don’t always appreciate the expense and work involved in the maintenance of private roads and often blame the village for street problems under the mistaken belief that they are village owned, they said.
Trustees seemed to like the design of the townhomes in the Brummel development, which would place the garages in the rear rather than the front, but were almost universally opposed to the tract-like appearance of the townhomes in Birkett.
Guerard said the board comments would be considered and the plans adjusted based on them. The density of both developments would likely be reduced, he said.
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