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Changes coming to Wintergreen addition, including renaming it Weldon Reserve

The owner of a controversial proposed addition to a subdivision in north Normal is making changes to address neighborhood resistance.

Fairlawn Capital also is renaming the third addition to the Wintergreen subdivision to Weldon Reserve. Weldon is the middle name of Town of Normal founder Jesse Fell.

Fairlawn and one of its partners, Jason Barickman, who also is a Republican state senator from Bloomington, said following a meeting with about 25 Wintergreen residents, that Fairlawn will tweak some lot sizes for the 28 duplex lots and 82 detached single family homes near Interstate 55. The changed lot sizes will be the ones adjoining existing homes.

"I think the view from the adjacent owners is they want lots that are of the same width as theirs. So, we are going to make the accommodations. And so, it means the subdivision will result in less homes by a slight number, maybe two," said Barickman.

Neighbors also asked for a fence between the old and new parts of the neighborhood. Barickman said he doesn't think that’s the right answer, and Fairlawn will instead plant a screen of tall arborvitae trees between the old and new sections.

“I think as a resident of this community, we want to portray ourselves as welcoming. And fences seem to suggest some people go on one side and others on the other," said Barickman. "And that's just not my mindset for a positive real estate development project. It's not the image that we wish to portray here. We've pushed back on the notion that there might be a fence that divides two communities.”

Fairlawn also has agreed to ban some things like basketball hoops, some secondary structures and above-ground pools.

“Some of the things they've asked us to restrict are things we didn't really envision for this community. For example, we did not envision above-ground pools. It's clearly a sore spot for our neighbors that they don't want neighbors with above- ground pools. While there is a private property right issue there, anyone can argue they can do whatever they want with their property, we thought that's a good example of an accommodation that we could make,” said Barickman.

Fairlawn said it will use more varied designs and architectural styles for the units, too.

Even though the planned duplexes will be in the $300,000-$400,000 price range, some residents pushed against the idea of attached housing. Not in my back yard (NIMBY) mindsets can complicate infill development projects such as Weldon Reserve, where green grass sites often concern only farmers who object to a loss of productive agricultural land.

"I think we open the dialogue and that's what we've tried to do here. It's all a give and take. The dialogue that we've opened was tell us your concerns and let's work together on how we might resolve them," said Barickman.

The neighborhood group also discussed with Fairlawn extending an existing road, Bristlecone Drive, to connect the subdivisions. Bristlecone has been planned as a connection road for roughly 20 years, Barickman said — long before Fairlawn secured the undeveloped land.

It currently is half constructed as a connection road. Barickman said certain Wintergreen II homeowners asked for Bristlecone to be reconfigured into a cul-de-sac, and alternatively, that Fairlawn install a gate between the two sections. Barickman said he and Fairlawn do not support a gate or a cul-de-sac.

“These roads were completed with public safety and delivering services in mind," said Barickman. "And the notion that suddenly we might push those aside because some people don't want one community connected to another, ultimately that's a decision that the town council has to make. What we've heard from the staff and town engineer is that they prioritize those public safety aspects. As a result, our development has also prioritized it.”

Barickman said neighbors have now agreed to support the proposal when it goes back to the Normal Town Council. The parties are attempting to put their intent in writing so homeowners have certainty about the future of the project, said Barickman.

Editor's note: This story has been changed to correct the number and mix of duplexes and detached single family homes in the proposed addition.

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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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