Council OKs Naperville R&D site, but talks with neighbors aren’t done

Susan Frick Carlman
scarlman@stmedianetwork.com | @scarlman
Aug. 25 10:15 a.m.

The Swedish manufacturer planning to open a new research and development presence on a sloping site along Warrenville Road won the Naperville City Council’s nod recently. Nearby residents, however, are still hoping the company will make changes to reduce the project’s impact on their neighborhood.

SKF Group plans to build the facility on 13.25 acres on the north side of Warrenville Road west of Lucent Lane. About a dozen homes sit north and east of the property on Indian Hill Drive and Barkei Lane, and some of their owners say the project could pose a threat to their safety and quality of life.

One issue of concern is a parking lot planned for the east end of the site, abutting the Barkei Lane backyard of homeowner Ramon Nayar, that eventually could include 350 parking spaces. Nayar told council members that he doesn’t oppose the development but wanted more time, and perhaps conditional approval of the requested annexation and plan approvals, until he and his neighbors could reach agreement with SKF on features of the development. Nayar said he would like the discussions to include the possibility of adding a sound-buffering fence between his home and the new facility.

Dan Rigby, who lives on Indian Hill, said the project had proceeded at “wildfire pace” since it was announced earlier this month. As the proposal made its way through the city’s planning review processes, SKF requested that its identity be kept under wraps while the company awaited confirmation that it would receive a state incentive package worth an estimated $2.2 million over the next 10 years.

Indian Hill resident Craig Stanton also spoke up on the project, saying the required landscaping and promised stop signs are inadequate to ensure safety for his family and their neighbors. Emergency vehicles will have trouble negotiating the area once the project is built, he said, asking that Barkei not be designated as the access route to the development.

Naperville attorney Russ Whitaker, representing SKF, said discussions with the neighbors have yielded some issues that SKF will address. However, with site work not set to start until next month, he said it’s too early in the process to make commitments about landscaping specifics.

A potential remedy suggested for the access issue is a driveway the city uses to reach an electric substation near the corner of Lucent Lane and Barkei. Bill Novack, director of engineering, development and transportation for the city, said it might be possible to turn the driveway into an access route into the SKF development.

“That way the Barkei traffic has its own little access road … and the proposed development has its road over to the parking lot,” Novack said.

Whitaker said he hadn’t had contact with the neighbors until Aug. 14, when he heard from the residents and immediately met with their attorney.

“We have made a good-faith effort to work with them. We will continue to work with them, we’ve put it in writing that we will work with them, and that’s about all we can do right now,” he said.

As for the access road suggestion, Whitaker said his clients are “happy to help them and work on that solution,” but he noted that the portion of Lucent Lane being discussed belongs to Alcatel-Lucent, which has offices east of the property and has been struggling with reduced revenues that have triggered thousands of layoffs in its worldwide work force.

“Lucent is very difficult to get a hold of right now,” he said, speculating that discussions over use of the access road will take time.

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1 Comment

  • Watching

    What do you bet these neighbors file a lawsuit due to the secrecy of the proposed user and use, lack of any testimony by anyone other than an attorney, and unreasonable and biased waiver of first read depriving the property owners of due process.

    2014-08-26 14:47:11 | Reply



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