GLEN ELLYN – Over the objections of residents, the majority of Glen Ellyn village trustees on April 25 voted to approve variations from the village's code to allow for a 12-pump gas station and 4,200-square-foot convenience store at the southeast corner of St. Charles Road and Main Street.
"We have to look at the greater good of the village," trustee Tim O'Shea said, in voting to approve the plans.
The vote came after 1:30 a.m., following hours of testimony by residents opposed to the project. Trustees also voted to approve plans for the station's exterior appearance.
Trustees gave their approval with the condition the station would be closed from midnight to 5 a.m. seven days a week. True North Energy LLC had wanted the station to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
However, trustees, along with Village President Alex Demos, were concerned about the impact that would have on neighboring residents. When the station is closed, the station's canopy lights will be shut off.
"It may not seem like it, but this is a difficult decision for everyone," trustee John Kenwood said, in addressing residents in the audience who voiced objections to the project. "There are people out there that support this and want this for our community."
Trustee Mark Senak abstained from voting on the project, saying he would like to see a better traffic study done to determine the impact the gas station would have. He also said he would like to see more information on what the economic impact would have on the surrounding homes.
"The consequences are too great to do this on less than a full record," Senak said.
Diana Martinez, who lives on Elm Street near the proposed project, repeated her concerns about the proposal, including the potential for gas leaks.
"This project is grossly overdesigned for a residential area," Martinez said. "I'm begging you to do the right thing."
More than 1,000 people have signed an online petition opposing the proposed gas station. Forest Glen Elementary School's PTA also voted to oppose the project, which is located less than 500 feet from the school.
Melissa DeMarco, co-president of the Forest Glen PTA, asked trustees to delay voting on the project until proper traffic studies could be done.
Planner Joe Abel, who is a longtime Glen Ellyn resident, said the project goes against the village's plans for the area.
"It [the gas station] is not one of the permitted uses," he told trustees. "It is a totally inappropriate use for this area."
In response to concerns raised by residents, along with village staff and the village's Architectural Review and Plan commissions, True North has revised its plans, agreeing to more than 30 conditions.
Those include eliminating a proposed car wash and redesigning the convenience store building to add a gabled roof and cupola to give the building a more historical appearance. The gas station will be near Stacy's Tavern Museum.
True North also has agreed not to allow a car vacuum on the site because of the noise it generates and not to allow outdoor music or any television or video displays on any of the gas pumps. Additional landscaping and fencing also has been added to the plans to further buffer residents from the project.
Ryan Howard, chief operating officer for True North, said they agreed to all the changes because they want to integrate into the neighborhood.
"We have worked tirelessly to satisfy the group of people opposed to the project," Howard said. "We understand our corporate responsibilities."
Howard said True North would be at a competitive disadvantage to the nearby 7-Eleven store if the convenience store was not open 24/7.
"We have made so many concessions along the way," he said. "We would like to make this project work."
True North is proceeding with its plans.
"We would like to thank the trustees, staff and residents of Glen Ellyn for the opportunity to become corporate citizens in one of Chicagoland’s premier suburbs," Howard said in a statement following the vote. "We are hopeful the roughly 28,000 Glen Ellyn residents will be proud of the services we provide for many years into the future."
The Glen Ellyn Village Board in February 2016 voted to sell the 1.35-acre property to True North for $630,000 for the development of a gas station and convenience store.
The village purchased the land for $590,000 in September 2010 and invested $90,000 in remediation, demolition and restoration efforts over six years. Previously, a dilapidated gas station had been on the property.
The majority of village trustees on March 13 voted to approve a special-use permit for the gas station and convenience store. They also approved sign code variations for the project.