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Farnham Manor development denied again by frustrated Wheaton City Council

WHEATON – The proposed Farnham Manor housing development near Farnham Lane and South Main Street was voted down in December and again rebuffed by the Wheaton City Council after an overwhelming six-to-one vote at its April 7 meeting.

Council member Todd Scalzo was the lone yes vote.

Developer Cesario Builders proposed subdividing three properties in the 100 block of East Farnham Lane into seven single-family lots, destroying two existing structures and building five new homes. The plan also called for a private street into the development.

The city's Planning and Zoning Board recommended approval of the application March 25, according to a memo from City Planner Tracy Jones, on the condition that the council maintain several variances in the plans.

Despite passing a similar proposal in 2009, most council members were unwilling to bend the rules for the development, citing two main problems – the absence of a required 100-foot front yard setback in one of the lots and a lack of uniformity with the rest of the block.

Many on the council expressed frustration that, despite months of work and dialogue, there were still problems with the plan.

"This has become very complicated, and basically the underlying issue is very simple: It's maintaining, basically, a 100-foot setback that already exists," said council member Phil Seuss. "We see the activity that's occurred since 2009 – people have bought properties there in the context of estate-sized homes with 100-(foot) setbacks."

Council member John Prendiville said, while Cesario has done good work in the city before, he had reservations about the cul-de-sac street proposed in the plan.

He said he believed cutting up the properties was inappropriate for the area.

"The only purpose for sustaining such a deviation ... is to increase the economic value to the developer," he said. "Now, I'm here to represent the residents of Wheaton. We love to have development, we love to have good development ... But here, there's really no circumstance which calls for a deviation like this in my opinion."

Several community members opposed to the project also spoke out.

Wheaton resident Sandra Becky said her street is already filled with cars avoiding traffic on Roosevelt Road, and the intersection of Farnham and Main creates trouble for drivers that would be exacerbated by the development.

"In the winter time, we probably get one or two cars a month sliding into our front yard the way that is," she said.

Tom Denardo, of 110 W. Farnham Lane, said the majority of the neighborhood is against the plan.

More than half of the homeowners within 250 feet of the development signed a petition of complaint, and Denardo said the constant uncertainty of Farnham Manor has caused he and his wife to delay building a new home on their property.

"The City Council is elected to represent the will of Wheaton residents," he said. "To me, in this case, it's very clear that the residents of this street and of Wheaton are clearly against this."

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