The future of a controversial gas station proposed for the northeast corner of Butterfield Road and Route 53 now rests in the hands of the DuPage County Board.
The board's Development Committee voted 4 to 2 on Dec. 3 to recommend against granting a conditional use permit to developer Buchanan Energy. The permit would allow the gas station, along with a proposed car wash and convenience store, to be built on a lot where a smaller station once stood.
The item will go before the County Board for consideration Dec. 10.
Plans for the 1.5-acre development have met strong opposition from local residents and the Butterfield Park District, which sits directly east of the property.
Concerns have focused on the health risks of having a gas station in such close proximity to an area frequented by children and seniors.
"Most of you know, the park district is not against this project," Butterfield Park District Executive Director Larry Reiner said. "It's just against the proposed location."
Testimony presented by experts for the park district and developer at a previous public hearing indicated that levels of benzene, a chemical contained in gasoline that is known to cause cancer, would not surpass legal levels if the gas station were to be built.
However, the park district expressed concerns about the dangers of any additional benzene in the area.
While the burden of proof was previously placed on the district to demonstrate the validity of its health concerns, ultimately, the burden sits on the petitioner to prove why the project should be granted a conditional use permit, Reiner said.
"Nowhere else in this county (is) there a gas station of this size surrounded by preschool facilities and other active and passive recreational use," said Phil Luetkehans, the attorney representing the park district.
However, attorney Henry Stillwell said the development will not cause a unique adverse impact and his client Buchanan Energy has met all the appropriate operational standards.
"There is nothing that justifies denial," Stillwell said.
Development Committee Chair Sam Tornatore and Vice Chair Grant Eckhoff voted in the development's favor, while committee members Peter DiCianni, Tony Michelassi, Lauren Nowak and Gary Grasso voted for a negative recommendation.
Concerns about the size and location of the development and potential traffic issues at that intersection led DiCianni to vote against recommending the developer receive a conditional use permit, he said.
Before coming to the Development Committee Dec. 3, the gas station proposal went before the DuPage County Zoning Board of Appeals, which recommended that Buchanan Energy receive a conditional use permit in July. The zoning board maintained its recommendation when the Development Committee sent the issue back to the board in August to further explore any potential health risks.
In November, Buchanan Energy requested that consideration of the gas station by the Development Committee be deferred until the Dec. 3 meeting, in order to allow the petitioner to review certain aspects of the proposed development.