DOWNERS GROVE – A group of business owners from the Oak Grove Business Park has filed a lawsuit against the village of Downers Grove and FlavorChem Corp. that seeks to overturn a decision by the Village Council to close Brook Drive, allowing FlavorChem to create a corporate campus.
The suit was filed Dec. 8, 2017, in DuPage County Court.
The village had no comment on the pending litigation.
Commissioners in September 2017 unanimously approved the proposal, which grants FlavorChem a license to close Brook Drive between Centre Circle and Downers Drive. The street currently bisects the FlavorChem complex, preventing the creation of a unified campus.
The license differs from vacating the street, as the village will maintain ownership of the roadway. Brook Drive would reopen if FlavorChem ever moved from the location, officials said.
In a three-page statement, the property owners outlined their opposition to closing Brook Drive and included a detailed timeline starting in October 2016 when FlavorChem submitted its plan to the village.
“Our position is that the license agreement with FlavorChem to close Brook Drive is a bad deal for the village and will negatively impact access, visibility and traffic in the surrounding area and property values throughout the industrial park," the statement reads.
FlavorChem, a manufacturer of flavor and color solutions for the food and beverage industries, maintains eight buildings in the business park, which is north of Butterfield Road.
Closing Brook Drive would allow employees to walk more easily across the campus and create an opportunity for additional parking. The company also plans to redesign, expand and improve the facilities.
Brook Drive is currently used for local businesses to access their buildings and by other residents as a cut-through, avoiding the intersection of Finley and Butterfield roads.
The group supports FlavorChem's plans to expand "without negatively impacting the surrounding business community and their patrons," the statement reads.
There are several reasons why licensing Brook Drive to FlavorChem is a bad deal for the village, according to the statement, but the negative impact on traffic in the business park and the nearby shopping centers is a primary concern.
“The intersections at Butterfield Road and Downers Drive and Butterfield Road and Finley Road are already congested, especially during rush periods, according to a village traffic study in 2016,” the statement reads. “Brook Drive provides a much-needed alternative route between Butterfield Road and Finley Road to reduce congestion for shopping center patrons and users of the park.”
Closing Brook Drive would make Downers Grove and Oak Grove Business Park less attractive to new or expanding businesses, according to the statement.
“New and expanding businesses will also be deterred by the Village’s record of favoring some businesses to the detriment of others,” the statement reads.
Mayor Martin Tully had said the move has its advantages, including improving public safety and providing an economic development incentive for a company in Downers Grove.
“The negative impact that has been described is minimal at best,” Tully said in September 2017.
The Downers Grove Plan Commission had voted 6-1 against the proposal.
Owners and managers from 32 neighboring businesses signed a petition opposing closure of Brook Drive, according to the statement.
The group also maintains FlavorChem should have taken steps to ensure employee safety when expansion led to buildings on the north and south sides of Brook Drive.
"The need for their employees to traverse Brook Drive was obvious and they should take steps to ensure safe crossing conditions, such as speed bumps and signaled crosswalks," the statement reads.