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River Road project fails to get backing

Updated: February 27, 2013 6:14AM

The fate of the proposed Asters on River townhome development off Route 120 and River Road is in the hands of the Waukegan City Council after the planning and zoning commission voted unanimously Thursday night to forward the project without a formal recommendation.

Commission Chairman Michael Rodriguez said Friday the panel’s action ended up reflecting a revised stance taken by the city’s planning staff, which decided against a recommendation after previously advocating for an approval with conditions.

“The (proposal) is for 155 townhomes, and the staff wanted to see that cut down,” Rodriguez said. “The city felt that the density was too high with 155 units, (so) obviously some kind of compromise needed to take place, but that didn’t happen.”

Rodriguez added that he made a motion in favor of recommending the project, but no one else on the advisory panel seconded him. A motion by commission member Keith Turner to recommend against the project also died for lack of a second, leading to the neutral vote.

“I really wanted to see approval for this,” Rodriguez said. “I realize that there are issues to be worked on, but we need development in the city, and it’s good to see that we have this group willing to invest in the city.”

The River Glen Capital Group’s reported $38 million proposal would construct 71 conventional townhomes and 84 rowhouses on a 22.4-acre site that is currently zoned for single-family housing, but has failed to produce a development over the past decade.

River Glen officials compare their concept to the Asters on Almond townhome development two miles west on Route 120, stating that the units would range from $240,000 to $300,000 and be marketed to empty-nesters and business professionals.

The project would require both a conditional-use permit and a rezoning of the property to R-5, or limited general residence. At an initial planning and zoning hearing Jan. 10, nearly 20 residents, primarily from River Road subdivisions south of the property, voiced objections to the proposal, citing concerns over aesthetics and traffic impacts. Backers of the concept said the site is more suited to multi-family housing.

Rodriguez, noting that the planning and zoning commission “is strictly a recommending body,” said that moving the project forward will give aldermen a chance “to look at it with a clear set of eyes and make their own decision.”

The next step is for the package to come before the judiciary committee, and a city official said Friday that the earliest date it can be placed on the agenda is Feb. 25.

The committee would issue its recommendation for a final vote by the full council once the project is forwarded, which could happen on March 4 at the earliest.

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