By Jennifer Fisher, Patch.com
Speaking before the Glenview plan commission last week, neighbors of a proposed megachurch at 2000 Shermer Rd., Glenview, say they are most concerned about the traffic it will generate.
Headquartered in Barrington, Willow Creek Community Church is planning to build a 75,000 square-foot facility in Glenview that will have capacity for 1,500 people per service. The church purchased one of the last available parcels from the old Glenview Naval Air Station this spring, while residential developer Edward R. James Partners bought the other parcel, for a total of $22 million. Both parcels were purchased by the village of Glenview in 2007 for $23.9 million—but development stalled due to the economic crisis, and the village did not send out a request for proposals until 2012.
A series of plan commission hearings began last Tuesday for the church and for Edward R. James, which is planning to build 172 new homes at 3000 West Lake Avenue. Although board members said they would hold discussion of traffic issues until Tuesday, Nov. 12, many people said that was already their biggest concern.
“We do not feel that the infrastructure can support this number of cars,” said Michael Dean, president of the homeowners association for Regency at the Glen. The church was originally proposed for the southern parcel, at 3000 West Lake, but after residents of Southgate in the Glen complained, the village decided to flip the layout—meaning the church is now planned for the northern parcel, abutting the Regency at the Glen development.
“As … the community most affected by this development, we have great concerns about how we’ll be able to enjoy our quality of life, homes we spent a lot of money for,” Dean told plan commission members. “Traffic to church during peak service hours is estimated to be 2,600 cars in and out on Shermer and West Lake.”
Dean said the homeowner’s association was also concerned about how easily emergency services would be able to access their neighborhood, particularly during peak traffic hours for the church.
Fellow Glenview resident Deanna Jacobson, who does not live in the Glen, said she, too was worried about traffic.
“I can’t begin to think what it’s going to do,” Jacobson said, noting that traffic would likely be an issue not just for people who live near the church but also for anyone in Glenview trying to access shops and amenities near the Glen.
The church recently moved its Sunday service schedule from 9 and 11 a.m. to 9 and 11:15 a.m., in response to concerns that there would not be enough time in between services to allow traffic to flow in and out according to attorney Lawrence Freedman. He also said that weekday activities will be limited from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. except for night classes from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Aside from special events such as weddings, funerals and Good Friday, the church has also committed not to hold any weekday services, according to Freedman.
“It’s our hope and our desire that we’ll be a fantastic member of this community for years to come,” said Willow Creek Pastor Steve Gillen, who noted that local congregants had been meeting in a temporary location in Northfield for the past 10 years.
Beyond traffic concerns about the church, some residents and commission members said they were also worried about the amount of open space in the Edward R. James development.
Called West Gate at the Glen, the new development will have 71 rowhomes, 37 small single-family homes and 64 townhomes, according to Jerry James, president of Edward R. James Partners. The Glenview-based company also built the Heatherfield and South Gate on the Glen developments, among other properties in Glenview and around the suburbs.
Responding to plan commission members, James promised that there were pocket parks “scattered throughout” the development. But he also admitted that West Gate will be more dense than Heatherfield, with 5.9 units per acre versus 4 units per acre in Heatherfield.
“Is there any other kind of development as dense as this?” asked commissioner Tom Fallon. “It just looks awfully dense to me.”
James said he believed the density was appropriate given the amount of open space to the east and to the south of proposed development, and said that if they were too close together, his company wouldn’t be able to sell the homes.
“We’ve never had that experience, and I don’t think we’re going to have that experience here,” he said. “The reality is that the value of the property is a function of the number of units that can be developed without violating good planning principles.”
The next hearing on Willow Creek and the James homes is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 12, from 7 to 9 p.m. at village hall, 1225 Waukegan Rd.