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Avenida Development Proposal: Will the current residents be heard?

Avenida is a California-based company's proposal of high-density, age restricted apartments at the SW corner of Mill St. and Common Road. The land is currently zoned single family homes, which the developer is seeking to have rezoned. In addition to rezoning, the developer is seeking variances from Municipal Code Regulations (“Code”) to build 146 units. Current Code would allow 110 units on the site. In addition to rezoning and the variance on the units, the developer is seeking a variance in the number of parking spaces, to provide up to 227 spaces (some of which would be land banked and possibly never built), while Code would require 329 spaces for the requested number of units. So the developer is requesting rezoning and significantly more (33%) units than Code. In addition, 45% more parking spaces would be required to meet Code.


Every city needs development. A fundamental question is how does a city balance new development with the rights of existing residents? The people living near the proposed Avenida site bought homes there with the understanding that the land was zoned single family. Isn’t zoning an implicit agreement between a governmental entity and its businesses and residents? If you owned a restaurant, you probably wouldn’t want the space next door to be rezoned for a pig farm. Similarly, people bought homes with the understanding that the open land was zoned single family.


Even if the rezoning makes sense, meets the requirements, and is appropriate for that particular property, why the significant variances? Section 6-3-6 of the Naperville Municipal Code lists three standards required for granting a variance, all of which must be met. Paragraph 2.2 reads: “Strict enforcement of this Title would result in practical difficulties or impose exceptional hardships due to special and unusual conditions which are not generally found on other properties in the same zoning district;”


What are the “practical difficulties” or “exceptional hardships due to special and unusual circumstances” imposed on the proposed Avenida development justifying the variances? The out-of-town developer wouldn’t make as much money as he could? Is that now considered an exceptional hardship?


Some nearby residents oppose the current proposal, believing the rezoning from single-family should not be granted. Other residents of the area have started a petition asking the City, if rezoning is granted, to simply require the developer to follow the City’s own Code. For more information: https://www.change.org/p/naperville-residents-require-high-density-apartment-developer-to-follow-naperville-code


That doesn’t seem like an unreasonable request: If Naperville grants the rezoning, which some oppose, just require the out-of-town developer to comply with Naperville’s own Code.


The out-of-town developer is making his pitch to a very pro-development/business Mayor. So will the California-based company be granted their request, or will consideration be given to the concerns of the Naperville residents who have been there for years and, in many cases, decades? If the concerns of Naperville residents aren’t heard now, when will they be? When will Naperville officials consider the impact of their actions on Naperville resident’s homes and neighborhoods? Will it be when the next out-of-town developer proposes the next big non-Code compliant project in your neighborhood?


The proposed development will be heard at the Planning and Zoning Commission at City Hall at 7:00 PM on Wednesday July 19th. If you agree with the Naperville residents that if the City of Naperville were to grant rezoning it should require the out-of-town developer to simply follow existing Naperville Code, consider signing the petition and attending the meeting on Wednesday. Your neighborhood might be next.



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