Subdivision residents protest ZBA action on heavy equipment dealership request

By Gregory Harutunian for Chronicle Media

Resident Brian Malone addresses the board about placement of a heavy equipment dealership directly across from a residential subdivision. (Photo by Gregory Harutunian/for Chronicle Media)

More than a dozen homeowners from a section of the Concord Oaks subdivision are taking issue with a heavy equipment business being allowed across the street from it. The Gurnee Planning and Zoning Board recommended approval of a special-use permit for the McCullough Kubota Equipment dealership, during its Wednesday meeting.

It moves the petition to the Village Board for a final airing later, after the 4-2 vote, with one absent, in favor of the permit being issued. The property at 7225 Grand Ave. was previously occupied by Anthony Pontiac-Buick, directly across from residential homes on Arlington Drive.

Following the meeting, Zoning Board member, Josh Pejsach, who voted in favor, confirmed he is also a board member on the subdivision’s homeowners’ association. He declined to comment on a potential conflict of interest.

“In order for it to be a conflict of interest, (he) would have had to obtain some type of financial gain based upon his decision, which did not happen,” Austin Pollock, the assistant to the village administrator, said Thursday. “Furthermore, the Concord Oaks HOA was not part of the petition. It was only a neighboring property.”

Concord Oaks is a single-family subdivision consisting of 375 homes, built in the 1990s, and bounded by an area south of Grand Avenue, and east of Hunt Club Road.

“I’m concerned, especially about storage, as the previous Buick dealership owner did not maintain the property, including the berm fence and landscaping as promised,” said Kathy Tullio, a homeowner. “This is industrial equipment. Not cars and light trucks.”

In addressing the board, Steve McCullough, the business owner, said, “I’m third generation. It was started in 1940 by my father and grandfather … as an agricultural dealership and we are concentrating, with this store, a Kubota-only dealership, which will be small ag … compact tractors and small tractors used by homeowners and contractors.”

Residents in proximity to the planned business also addressed the board, indicating that the size of the operation will lower property values and affect the quality of life.

“I moved there in 1997, across the street, the very last home built in the subdivision,” said resident Brian Malone. “I happen to measure noise for a living. The village, particularly myself, is greatly impacted in the early morning hours by the noise of trucks being brought in there. Diesel (will be) impacting the air, while test-driving the vehicles.  Do we have measurements of the noise of those vehicles, a noise radius? I ask that you consider … the impact of home values.”

McCullough noted, “I suppose these (noise measurements) could be done … when you turn on a lawnmower, the blades would probably make as much noise as one of these tractors. This would be our fourth location. There will be trucks making deliveries. They would enter on Arlington Drive … we haven’t got that routed out yet.”

Board chair Jim Sula said the property is currently zoned for C-2 commercial use along Grand Avenue, and also carries a planned unit development designation with a community-commercial district mix, through the previous owner. The special-use permit allows a business to operate in an area not normally zoned for such activities, such as residential.

The Kubota dealership is classified as equipment rental and leasing services, with outside storage, sales or display, along with truck sales and service. The board also unanimously approved a minor sign exception for a new monument sign exceeding 12 feet in height.

McCullough indicated that the volume of sales would be anticipated at $25 million-$35 million annually, when questioned by the board. Hours of operation are planned for Monday through Friday, and a half-day on Saturday.

“I think these residents are correct in what they are saying about dealerships,” said Dave Zenner. “I’ve been in dealerships all my life … I’ve never seen a tractor dealership in Gurnee before, and I don’t know why you would want to put one next to a residential area. Where they come from, they are surrounded by farm fields.”

“I go out of my way to make sure my home, right there on the corner is very beautiful, very decorated,” said resident Jackie Malone. “I love Gurnee, lived here for 25-plus years, a retired veteran. Please, when you make this decision … you don’t live on that corner, you don’t see the park, you don’t see up and down the streets, you don’t see the children and the people who walk their dogs.

“I don’t know where you live,” she said. “But I don’t think you want that tractor place in your neighborhood … this is not your neighborhood, it is our neighborhood.”