- 555 N. Kensington Proposed Redevelopment
555 N. Kensington Proposed Redevelopment
**LATEST UPDATE: 1/25/2023** At the January 24, 2023 Village Board Meeting, the Village Board voted to approve a plat of subdivision for 555 N. Kensington Avenue.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding 555 N. Kensington Avenue
The Village is aware of the various conversations taking place on social media regarding the sale of the American Nuclear Society property at 555 N. Kensington Avenue. The following information aims to provide a greater understanding of the proposed project and its status.
What is the status of the American Nuclear Society site?
The American Nuclear Society (“ANS”) has decided to sell its property. McNaughton Development (“Applicant”) has submitted an application and is currently seeking approval for a subdivision.
Has the property already sold?
The Village does not know if the property has sold, but was told months ago by the Applicant that it was under contract. Any further questions about the status of the sale should be directed to the Applicant or ANS (or its broker).
Did other developers submit proposals for the property?
The Village has no knowledge of any other proposals, as they would have been directed to the owner, ANS (not the Village). The pending application for subdivision from McNaughton Development is the only zoning application that the Village has received for this property.
What is the current zoning of the site and has it changed recently?
The property is located in the R-1 Single-Family Residential District. This property has, since prior to 1945, been zoned single-family residential, even though a school was operated there. In the mid-1970s, when the school was closed, ANS bought the property and obtained a special use permit to operate its nonprofit association there. The Village approved the special use permit, but left the single-family zoning of the property unchanged. A condition of the special use permit was that when ANS ceased its operations the use would revert to single-family, consistent with the underlying zoning designation. The Village’s Comprehensive Plan reiterated that goal and intention.
- To view the Special Use Permit Ordinance, click here.
- To view the excerpt from the Village’s Comprehensive Plan, click here.
- To view the complete Comprehensive Plan, click here.
- To access the Village’s Zoning Map, click here.
What is involved in the Village’s approval of a plat of subdivision?
The plat of subdivision must meet: (1) all zoning requirements in the Village’s Municipal Code (minimum lot size, lot width, and lot depth); (2) any applicable stormwater requirements; and (3) the requirements of the State of Illinois Plat Act.
The Applicant’s proposed subdivision plat meets all of the Village’s zoning requirements for the R-1 District, as well as all of the stormwater detention requirements in accordance with Chapter 154 (Floodplain and Stormwater Management) of the Village’s Municipal Code. Importantly, the proposed plat of subdivision fully complies with the requirements of the Illinois Plat Act.
The Planning and Zoning Commission reviewed the proposed plat of subdivision for eight single-family lots and one outlot for the stormwater facility at its December 14, 2022 meeting and recommended approval of the subdivision by a vote of five (5) to two (2). To view the Planning and Zoning agenda packet, click here. The Commission’s recommendation will go before the Village Board for approval on January 24, 2023.
What action is the Village Board considering regarding the American Nuclear Society site?
The Village Board will vote on an ordinance to approve a plat of subdivision at the January 24, 2023 Village Board Meeting. The Village Board reviewed and discussed the ordinance at its January 10, 2023 Work Session Meeting. To view the January 10, 2023 agenda memo on this topic, please click here and reference page 56.
On what basis must the Village approve or deny the application for a plat of subdivision?
McNaughton Development’s application for this subdivision did not seek any special approvals (such as variations or a special use permit). When an application seeks special approvals, the Village can deny the application if the applicable standards listed in the Village’s Zoning Code are not met. In contrast, approval of a plat of subdivision that seeks no special approvals and meets all state, county, and local standards, is nondiscretionary; it is a ministerial act on the Village’s part.
How long does the Village Board have to vote on the proposed plat of subdivision?
Per Section 11-12-8 of the Illinois Municipal Code (State of Illinois Compiled Statutes), municipalities must approve subdivision plats that comply with the applicable code provisions within 60 days from the date of filing the last required document. McNaughton Development submitted the last required document on December 7, 2022. The Village Board meeting on Tuesday, January 24, 2023 is the last Board meeting within the 60-day timeline.
What does McNaughton Development plan to do with the site?
Currently, there are 10 existing lots platted on the Subject Property. None of the lots meet the minimum lot size requirements under the Village’s Zoning Code. In order to redevelop the property with single-family homes and also meet the Village’s stormwater management requirements, the Applicant has submitted an application for subdivision to re-subdivide the land into eight lots for single-family homes and one outlot for stormwater detention.
While approval of the subdivision does not consider the designs of the individual homes, it is our understanding that the developer plans to build two-story homes with four bedrooms, 3.5 baths, finished basements, attached two-car garages, exterior features with a mix of brick and stone veneer, prefinished siding, architectural grade shingles, and front porches. The Village cannot regulate the look of a home, but the Code does have provisions about building height and setback plane for the purposes of enhancing the air and light of the area (and preventing boxy structures). Additionally, the Code establishes bulk and setback regulations for all residential zoning districts. The ANS site is zoned R-1 single-family residential, and all residential property within the R-1 District has the same maximum building coverage standard. In looking at the Zoning Map, you will notice that the majority of the residential land in the Village is zoned R-1.
- To view the zoning standard for building height setback plane, click here.
- The view the Village’s bulk and setback standards, click here.
- To access the Village’s Zoning Map, click here.
- To view the Municipal Code’s chapter on stormwater requirements, click here.
Why is the dry basin necessary?
There are two separate stormwater management criteria that apply to this development. One is the MWRD Watershed Management Ordinance (WMO) and the other is the Village’s Stormwater Management Ordinance. In general, both ordinances are in place to mitigate the impacts of runoff created by development and redevelopment projects. Requirements of both ordinances need to be met. Under the Village’s Code, stormwater detention is specifically required in Section 154.20(B) of the Municipal Code for sites greater than one acre in size that are to be subdivided or developed as two or more single-family detached lots. The total area of the proposed Kensington Place Development is 1.44 acres. The Village’s Engineers find that the proposed detention basin meets the requirements of the Code. To view the Village Engineer’s review letter for this development, click here.
County WMO: The county ordinance was adopted in 2013 and includes provisions for stormwater management based on the size of residential development. The county ordinance has requirements as to how runoff from storms is conveyed and to address the effects of impervious area of the development, as well as the collection and retention of the volume of runoff for one inch of rainfall for the impervious area of the site (referred to as “Volume Control”).
Village's Ordinance: The Village adopted its Stormwater Ordinance in 2005 and revised it most recently in 2022 to reflect the use of the most current rainfall data (Bulletin 75). The Village’s ordinance requires that single-family home developments one acre or larger restrict the runoff from rainfall events up to the 1% Annual Chance Event (more commonly referred to has the 100-Year Storm). The threshold was selected because of the rise of complaints related to the flooding impacts caused by new development throughout the Village, including basement back up, street flooding, and rear-yard flooding. The minimum size of the required detention was based on the size of the site that could reasonably and effectively manage the stormwater runoff in a comprehensive manner. (Note: For smaller residential sites, the volume of runoff from new impervious areas greater than 200 square feet is what is required to be stored on site). The Village’s ordinance restricts the rate of flow to 0.10 cfs (cubic feet per second) per acre of development, and runoff that exceeds this rate is required to be temporarily stored on the site. The Village’s ordinance is more restrictive than the countywide ordinance, because the Village’s combined sewer system is generally considered very undersized, which limits the rate of flow it can take.
How are the County and Village stormwater management requirements being implemented on the proposed development?
The countywide ordinance requirements are met by having storm sewers collect the runoff from the buildings, sidewalk, and driveways and directing that runoff to the detention basin. The Volume Control required for this site is 0.048 acre-feet (roughly 15,600 gallons). The volume being stored utilizes best management practices by using infiltration, transpiration (absorbed by plants), and evaporation. The Volume Control would result in 8.4” of water being present at the bottom the pond for no longer than 72 hours. The 72 hours is regulated by the site’s restrictor, which controls the release into the combined sewer at a specific rate. The Village’s ordinance allows for the above site to release 0.14 cfs (cubic feet per second). The amount of storage utilized in a rain event depends on the intensity rainfall and duration of the storm.
How much water will be in the detention basin based on storm events experienced in the Village?
The intensity and duration of a storm impacts the Village sewer system and can result in various types of localized flooding (street flooding, sewer back up, and rear yard flooding). Often storms of longer duration have embedded in them high intensity rainfalls occurring within an event. A slow steady rainfall does not have as much of an impact on the sewer system, as it can keep up with the rate of the runoff, but short intense bursts can quickly exceed the system’s capacity and result in flooding. Computer-based stormwater modeling is used to review the rainfall distribution during storm events, simulating how runoff rates vary through storms. The following is a summary of how the proposed detention basin will function during different types of storm events:
- Storms with normal rainfalls, events with about 1.5 inches of rain in a 24-hour period, will result in less than one foot of water being stored in the basin at its peak, which will take less than 15 hours to drain down. The basin will be storing up to 31,400 gallons of runoff.
- Storms that typically result in water ponding on the street basins and in some rear yards, having about 1.5 to 3.5 inches of rain in a 24-hour period, will result in about 2.5 feet of water in the basin at its peak, which will take about 30.5 hours to drain down. The basin will be storing up to 61,200 gallons of runoff from these storms.
- Storm events that cause widespread sewer back-up and significant rear yard and street flooding in vulnerable low-lying areas, events between 3.5 and 5 inches of rainfall in a 24-hour period, will result in up to 4.0 feet of water in the basin at its peak, which will take about 41 hours to drain down. The basin will be storing up to 139,800 gallons of runoff from these storms.
- Storm events that cause widespread flooding and sewer backup with the Village for an extended period, events with rainfall of greater than 5 inches within a 24-hour period, will result in water being stored to a max volume of 5.4 feet, which will take about 72 hours to drain down. The basin will be storing up to 219,600 gallons of runoff from these storms.
What do I need to know about the new detention basin near our homes?
The basin design includes four critical factors that ensure effective stormwater management for the entire area:
- The detention basin has a significant capacity, greater than what is required by the county ordinance alone.
- The detention basin will be connected to the combined sewer system with a restrictor and will be draining into the combined sewer system, as needed.
- The detention basin overflow is engineered to convey onto Kensington Avenue if it reaches capacity. See capacity calculations above.
- The land and greater basin area are engineered to accept overland flow from the homes south of the basin. Additionally, the south side of the detention basin will include compacted clay to protect against underground permeability (protecting the existing homes to the south).
Has McNaughton Development provided any materials to illustrate how the detention basin would look in the proposed location?
The Applicant has provided a cross-section drawing and photograph of a similar basin (see below). The proposed basin for the ANS site is engineered differently than the example pictured, as it is designed to release water from the bottom of the basin into the Village’s combined sewer system. This design was utilized because the Municipal Code requires that dry basins be designed “so that 80% of their bottom area shall have standing water no longer than 72 hours after any runoff event equal to or less than the 100-year event and after any tailwater affecting the discharge from the pond recedes. Underdrains directed to the pond outlet shall be used if necessary to accomplish this requirement.” See Section 154.29 of the Municipal Code for more information on dry basins.
- To view the cross-section drawing, click here.
- To view the McNaughton PowerPoint presentation, click here.
- See the photo example below from another McNaughton Development detention basin (520 S. Oak, Westmont)
What safety measures will be put in place regarding the detention basin?
The west, south, and east sides of the detention basin are sloped at a maximum slope of 3:1, which is considered a walkable slope. Along the north side of the basin (closest to the new development), where the grade changes quickly, there is a retaining wall. The developer will install a five-foot fence, located approximately one foot north of the retaining wall, as a safety measure.
What types of native plantings will be used in the detention basin?
The detention basin will include plantings that are natural prairie grasses with three zones of plantings:
- The bottom of the basin consists of a “swale mix” consisting of grasses and sedges, as well as forbs that tolerate submersion and saturate soils.
- The side slopes of the basin are to be planted with Wet-to Mesic Prairie Seed Mix consisting of sedges, grasses, and forbs that tolerate less frequent submersion. These pants also are deep rooted and have a tolerance for drier periods of time.
- The top portion and fringe of the basin consists of a “No Mow Fescue” seed mix. These areas see little to no submersion. The area serves as a transition to the other plantings. The seeding in this area consists of primarily fescues. The intention is that these will be a “no mow” meaning they will be longer grasses of varied height rather than a typical lawn.
The plants are slow growing and can take up to three years to establish themselves. The developer is responsible for the maintenance of the detention basin plants until their establishment and then by the HOA (homeowners association) after they have been established.
How will the detention basin be maintained over time?
Section 154.41 of the Municipal Code addresses the maintenance requirements for detention basins. Key elements of the Code are such that maintenance of the basin is the responsibility of the property owner; in this case, the HOA. Before the building permit is issued, the Village will execute a maintenance agreement guaranteeing the maintenance of the property in perpetuity, which will be filed with the property. There will be inspections before, during, and after construction, and then annually. If the property owner fails to maintain or annually inspect the detention area, the Village can issue penalties and complete both the inspections and the maintenance at the cost of the property owner.
Can the Village require the developer to use deconstruction, rather than demolition, to take down the building?
Both the Village of La Grange Park and Cook County will need to issue demolition permits for the project to proceed. Typically, the Village will not issue a demolition permit until it receives documentation from the applicant that they have obtained a permit from Cook County. As part of the County permitting process, the applicant will need to abate all asbestos from the property prior to demolition. There are some exemptions, but they are very specific and need specific County approval.
Demolition in La Grange Park
Demolition in La Grange Park is regulated in Section 150.014 of the Municipal Code. As such, there are various requirements that must be met regarding the demolition and management of the site, many related to safety. For example, a chain link safety fence must be constructed around the site with lockable safety gates. Also, there must be provisions to control dust and airborne particulates during demolition. The Code requires that there be spraying equipment on-site, using water from a water truck or other water source, capable of spraying and thoroughly saturating all portions of the structure and surrounding property affected by the work. The spraying is required to be undertaken at all times necessary to thoroughly control the creation and migration of airborne particles, including dust, from the subject property. The Village has dealt with this regularly over the years, both in relation to the demolition of many single-family homes, and also much larger structures such as the Congregation of St. Joseph six-story mother house, and the main Plymouth Place structure razed after the new main structure was built. Very near to the ANS site, the older multi-tenant commercial buildings at the corner of Catherine and Woodlawn were demolished in 2005, along with the adjacent two-story multi-family residential building. These were bordered directly by properties that had occupied single-family homes on them.
Demolition Compared to Deconstruction
There are no ordinances in place in the Village of La Grange Park that require a building be “deconstructed” instead of being “demolished”. That said, the County will require that all the asbestos from the structure be removed prior to demolition. It is required that this be done by a contractor who is specifically licensed to do such work. Again, the Village has dealt with this in the past with buildings scheduled for demolition, and in others, where the building was to remain, but there was a need or want to remove the asbestos. Also, in issuing a demolition permit, the demolition must be done in accordance with the Cook County Code of Ordinances, Chapter 30, Article V, Division 3, Section 30-773 “Demolition debris diversion requirements”. This requires that for any nonresidential structures, the demolition permit holder is subject to a 70-percent by weight recycling requirement, and reuse is encouraged whenever possible. Prior to the commencement of a demolition project, the demolition permit holder must submit a Demolition Debris Diversion Plan estimating the respectively required diversion goals and the transport means and destinations of demolition debris. There is also required follow-up documentation and record keeping. Important County links are provided below.
In summary, the Village’s Municipal Code does not require deconstruction as a method of demolition. The Village is unaware of any municipality with such a requirement. The Village lacks the authority to require deconstruction if there is no ordinance in place to require it.
On January 19, 2023, McNaughton Development submitted a letter to the Village regarding their research on demolition and deconstruction. To view the letter from McNaughton Development, click here.
Has the Village looked into the possibility of getting landmark or historical status for the building?
La Grange Park does not have a historic preservation ordinance. On two separate occasions (1. the Special Use application by the American Nuclear Society in 1975 and 2. the community’s work in the development and approval of the 2006 Comprehensive Plan), the Village received feedback from residents that the land should revert back to a use that is consistent with its zoning, R-1 single-family. The Village would not take action in conflict with a plan previously developed with resident feedback specific to this issue.
If not, can work be done now to support this designation?
La Grange Park cannot draft and adopt a historic preservation ordinance for a building whose owner or contract purchaser has already petitioned to subdivide it.
Can the Community Park District or the Village buy the building – or can both parties buy it together?
In 2021, the Community Park District thoroughly considered acquisition of the building and rejected it, and the Village lacks the funds to contribute to its acquisition and renovation.
Have there been any public notices or discussions regarding this matter, aside from the Village Board meetings on January 10, 2023 and July 13, 2021?
The subdivision was reviewed at the December 14, 2022 Planning and Zoning Commission Meeting. To view the Planning and Zoning agenda packet, click here. No public notice was given of that meeting because the Applicant did not seek relief from the Zoning Code (such as a rezoning of the property, approval of a Planned Unit Development, or a variation). A plat of subdivision is something that an owner is entitled to as a matter of right, so long as the proposed plat meets all zoning and stormwater management requirements of the Village and meets the requirements of the Illinois Plat Act. The proposed subdivision met all of those requirements.
What was discussed at the July 13, 2021 Village Board Work Session Meeting?
The Village Board discussed the potential sale of this property on July 13, 2021. It was stated during that meeting that the Village cannot comment on any proposed use of the ANS site. It was explained at that time that the property was listed for sale, and no one could seek approval for a particular use (single-family or multi-family or other) unless that person was either the property owner or a contract buyer who had standing to make a formal request. Only the owner, ANS, or a prospective purchaser who signed a contract to buy the property could seek permission from the Village to do something specific with the site. Once formal approval was sought, the Village could then react to the application.
The Village on its own would not have sought input from residents about this site because it was formally listed for sale and because the Village had no interest in acquiring the site, either for its own use or for joint use with other public bodies. To view the agenda packet from that meeting, please click here. To view the minutes from that meeting, click here.
What is the Village’s role as it relates to the development of 555 N. Kensington?
The Village’s role is limited to ensuring that all applicable codes regarding zoning, development, stormwater, and construction are met. Municipalities cannot interfere in the sale of private property and there are legal implications in doing so. The plat of subdivision is before the Village Board’s consideration for approval. With this application, the Village conducts its review to ensure that all regulations will be met. Preservation of a building or requiring deconstruction are not permissible reasons to deny a plat of subdivision.
How can residents and other community stakeholders provide feedback on the Application for Subdivision?
Residents may email their questions and feedback to email@example.com. They may also attend the Village Board Meeting on January 24, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. and provide public comment.
- Excerpt from the Village’s Comprehensive Plan
- Ordinance Authorizing Special Use Permit- February 10, 1976
- Hancock Engineering Review Letter - December 8, 2022
- Planning and Zoning Commission Packet - December 14, 2022
- McNaughton Development PowerPoint Presentation - December 14, 2022
- Village Board Memo - January 10, 2023
- McNaughton Development Letter Regarding Demolition - January 19, 2023
- Detention Pond Cross Section