DARIEN – Opponents of a proposed warehouse in Darien that would include 31 truck loading docks were dealt a setback Aug. 27 when the city’s Municipal Services Committee voted 2-1 in favor of a height variance for the building.
The proposal goes before the Darien City Council on Sept. 4.
“It’s a quick, dirty deed,” said Chuck Fischer, a Darien resident who has led the fight against the warehouse. “It’s quick and dirty.”
Sterling Bay, a Chicago-based development company, wants to build the warehouse on 10.25 acres east of Cass Avenue on Frontage Road, adjacent to the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve.
The Darien Planning and Zoning Commission on July 18 recommended approval of the variance allowing a 4-foot increase in the height of the proposed structure.
About 75 people attended the Municipal Services Committee meeting, and about 25 addressed the committee to oppose the plan, Fischer said.
The committee, however, was only considering the request for a height variance, City Administrator Bryon Vana said.
"[The warehouse] is already a permitted use," he said, adding the parcel is zoned industrial.
The city would proceed differently if the developer were seeking a special-use permit or rezoning for the property.
Vana said Darien strives to accommodate businesses interested in locating in the city by having an expeditious approval process. Additionally, he said, Sterling Bay has done its due diligence on the parcel, he said.
"The work that the developer has done on this property has not been quick," Vana said.
For example, an extensive traffic study was conducted and submitted to the city.
Opponents of the proposal have voiced concerns about the proposed warehouse's proximity to Waterfall Glen.
"It's described as the jewel of the community," Fischer said of the 2,500-acre forest preserve that surrounds Argonne National Laboratory.
The forest preserve features 11 miles of trails, 740 native plant species and more than 300 species of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles, according to the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County website.
Opponents believe Waterfall Glen will be in jeopardy if the warehouse is constructed. More than 2,100 people have signed an online petition opposing the plan.
Some of the petition signatures belong to individuals who do not live in Darien, Vana said.
Additionally, opponents are concerned about the potential air and noise pollution, as well as potential toxins caused by the trucks entering and exiting the facility.
"The community, because of the amount of trucks, will suffer radically," Fischer said.
Vana said truck emissions are regulated by the federal government, not the city.
"There's no impact this should have on the forest preserve," he said.
An environmental impact study on the property was conducted in 2011, but no studies have been performed to determine if the warehouse and trucks would negatively affect Waterfall Glen, Vana said.
Residents have voiced their opposition to the proposal via a website, keepdariennice.com, and a Facebook page, Fight for Darien: Say No to Trucking Facility and Sterling Bay.
Their primary goal leading up to the Sept. 4 City Council meeting is to convince four of the city’s seven aldermen to vote against the plan, Fischer said.
He said he plans to contact the parent-teacher organizations from all the schools that could potentially be impacted by the terminal to encourage them to join the fight.
"When you bring trucks into the community, you pollute the community," Fischer said.