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Normal city manager: Wintergreen developer addressing resident concerns

Map shows the Wintergreen subdivision near Interstate 55.

Normal City Manager Pam Reece said she expects the developer of a controversial addition to the Wintergreen subdivision off Beech Street near Interstate 55 will make changes to satisfy neighborhood objections.

Reece said Fairlawn Capital pulled the plan from the city council agenda last week after meeting with residents. The flap over new upscale duplexes is a sign the public hearing process is working, she said.

"I believe the developer has heard and wants to do what they can to have a viable development and something the neighbors can possibly get behind and, if not, at least not oppose it," Reece said on WGLT's Sound Ideas.

Neighbors have concerns about traffic, the size of the lots, and whether the upscale duplexes will be rented by the developer, or owned by the occupants.

"Certainly, the town does not dictate owner-occupancy, ever," said Reece.

“I don't know if the developer will be prepared to have this back on our Tuesday, Sept. 6 agenda or not. That is sort of our tentative plan, assuming that they'll be ready to go for the next council meeting. But we've got an extra week, in this month between council meetings.”

There also has been resident concern that the upscale apartments that could rent for $2,500 to $3,350 a month might create a flood of students at nearby Prairieland Elementary School that the Unit 5 school district would not be able to handle without redistricting some students from Normal to Hudson Elementary.

Reece noted the town approved the preliminary plan for the subdivision in the mid-2000s. That plan did reflect a small area along the interstate zoned R2 residential, basically attached housing or duplexes.

“I believe Unit 5 would confirm the Wintergreen plan was known and had anticipated that at some point Wintergreen would build out,” said Reece. “The current plan is very comparable in staff’s opinion to what the town approved way back in the early or mid-2000s.”

Lot sizes are larger than required under R2 zoning, but smaller than the single-family home lots elsewhere in the subdivision, Reece said.

While there has been resistance to the Wintergreen proposal, a different subdivision addition that involved attached housing recently sailed through without incident — The Trails at Sunset Lake. Reece said it is sometimes difficult to tell which proposals attract scrutiny and opposition and which do not.

“You know, I cannot define how that works. I can simply say that certain plans are on the shelf for a while. And by the time they get to construction phase, some people have strong opinions one way and some have strong opinions the other,” said Reece, adding the attached housing proposal would help fill a significant need in that segment of the community housing stock.

“So there's a lot of things to balance,” she said.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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