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Frustration grows with construction company on residential lot in Downers Grove

DOWNERS GROVE – Despite years of code violations and complaints, residents say a construction company based on a residential street has not reformed its behavior and serves as a general nuisance in an otherwise quiet area.

The complaints over Donegal Excavating, 4240 Lacey Road, started soon after the business opened in 2008 and resurfaced publicly again this month when developers proposed building an assisted-living facility in a wooded lot next door.

About two-dozen residents at a town hall meeting hosted by developers of the assisted-living facility spent most of the meeting’s two hours venting frustration about the dump trucks, semitrailers and construction equipment they say comes and goes from Donegal beginning early in the morning and ending late at night, among a myriad of other issues.

“They drive in and out throughout the day, so it’s extremely loud,” neighbor Nick Janowitz said. “They have a backhoe that lifts gravel; there’s dust. The biggest thing about it is, it’s a safety concern. It’s a quiet neighborhood, and my kid can’t ride her bike on the street.”

Donegal Excavating owner Simon Bradley did not return calls for comment.

Donegal is allowed on the residential-zoned lot because of a 1993 Circuit Court Consent Decree that allowed a previous, unrelated business – an engineering office – to operate from the site, along with any subsequent business.

The decree lays out several restrictions easily met by an office but not so easily met by an excavating company, including that all work must be done within a completely enclosed building, and that work “shall take place without creating disturbing influences” to the adjoining properties.

“This is a situation where it is almost impossible to achieve complete satisfaction on behalf of either party,” Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully said. “The only way to possibly achieve total satisfaction is to eliminate the cause of the tension completely. When the neighbors aren’t going anywhere and Donegal isn’t going anywhere, that’s not going to happen.”

Susan Wall moved into the neighborhood when the lot now occupied by Donegal still was just an office. Since Donegal opened business in 2008, she said she has seen the amount of trucks and traffic owned by the business grow along with her frustration.

After neighbor complaints in 2011, the village restricted trucks from driving down certain streets in the neighborhood. But she said the business’s employees often don’t follow the ordinance. Parking also is an issue.

“You can hear them
dumping, and you can hear the beeping noise, constantly,” she said. “It’s gotten worse.”

Despite the violations, much of Janowitz’s, Wall’s and others’ frustration lies with what they say has been an inadequate response from the village.

Janowitz said that the fact that he and other neighbors are so clearly bothered by the business’s activities should be enough to have it and the decree removed.

“Why haven’t they been shut down?” Janowitz said.

Village Manager David Fieldman said the village has been vigilant in its monitoring of the business, and pointed toward the list of previous code violations and current litigation between Downers Grove and Donegal that would require the business to add more landscaping as a buffer on the sides of the lot.

“The village rigorously enforces all aspects of the consent decree and regulations that apply to the property,” he said.

Tully added that the village has done what it can to mitigate behavior that bothers neighbors without infringing on Donegal’s legal right to occupy the lot.

When asked is the village has considered suing to have the consent decree removed, village spokesperson Dough Kozlowski said, “Basically, we are going to work within the legal framework of the court order.”

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