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Group Opposing Memorial Lights Debates Impact on Neighbors

Cross-examination continued at Thursday's plan commission meeting.

The group opposed to lights at Memorial Field set out prove that light towers would negatively impact the neighborhood near the high school.

Jim Ozog, resident and lawyer representing the group opposed to the lights, continued to cross-examine officials and their expert witnesses regarding the installation of lights at Memorial Field during Thursday’s plan commission meeting.

District 87 wants to install lights at Memorial Field, but in order to do so district officials need approval from the village of Glen Ellyn’s board of trustees, following the recommendation of the plan commission.

Ozog first questioned the real estate appraiser hired by the district, Michael MaRous. Ozog focused his questions on whether the lights would negatively impact the neighborhood surrounding Memorial Field. MaRous stated the trees surrounding the field would create enough of a “buffer” from homeowners’ property, and would not negatively impact the value of homes. MaRous argued that because the area is used frequently by high school students, athletes, pedestrians on the Prairie Path, and trains throughout the day that the added lights would not change the characteristic of the area.

“There will be some change in the neighborhood due to this plan--my conclusion, long term--is that there is a benefit,” said MaRous.

Ozog then moved on to cross-examine Chris McClain, assistant superintendent for business services for District 87. However, Ozog was not allowed to ask McClain about a $44,000 study from 2010, which details accidents along Crescent Boulevard between Riford Road and Park Boulevard. Commissioners prevented the line of questioning because the study was not used in McClain’s original testimony and said he did not have to speak to the results. Considering this traffic study lead to the implementation of additional safety measures near the high school on Crescent Boulevard, in addition to McClain’s previous statements on traffic around the high school, Ozog thought the questioning was fair play.  

“They’ve relied on that report heavily. For him to back off was I think inappropriate. It was studied time and time again by the school board and relied upon by Mr. McClain, so he can’t back away from it,” said Ozog.

Just like the previous meeting Ozog tried to make a point that the lack of lights does not pose a hardship for the high school. In Thursday’s meeting, Ozog tried to point out that the district was trying to maximize the return on the field whereas the village’s approval of variance requests allows for only a reasonable return. McClain said if you peel back all the semantics the students suffer.

“We’re not adequately serving the needs of students and that is what the variance is all about,” said McClain.

There will be a special plan commission meeting next Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the . During this time there is a chance that the public will be able to make statements.

Curious about the timeline of events leading up to the Memorial Field vote? that explains how the debate reached the plan commission. The article sheds more light on the traffic study Ozog refers to among other things. 

Ramona October 03, 2011 at 11:44 AM
Bean, look up some facts. It would be off at 9 pm. I am sure you have been around the school after 9 pm since you have a freshman. There would be rentals, but it would be limited because the high school will have primary use. That school has 7 football teams this fall, how much time do you think they have to rent that out? Sure, in the summer perhaps a group renting it out, but it does not have space to host large tournaments there, so perhaps a football or lacrosse camp? The school and park district already do that, and did before the field was even turfed. Why not earmark the rentals for other capital improvements? That could be done. And, I am an oldster too, living here over 20 years, and have a Senior at West and one at Hadley. So, the lights would never be up to benefit my Senior anyway. Having a great school system, good park district and such is what gives our houses value. When I moved here, I was shocked to find out they did not have lights, a tiny hamlet in the middle of nowhere has Friday Night lights, but we still won't have that.
Jane October 03, 2011 at 03:30 PM
A referendum on this issue would only be "advisory" and it would not remove the rights of the property owners within 1200 ft. The neighbors retain their legal rights which, of course, includes the right to seek relief in a court of law. The Village, because they "looked the other way" and did not stop a use of the property that is not allowed by the Zoning Code, is at risk of a lawsuit. The zoning of this property is for open space and passive recreation and open to the public. When the use was proposed to change to "active" recreational programming and restricted use, the Village should have required a special use permit application, held public hearings, and approved/denied the change of use. In my opinion, the best thing the Village could do right now to avoid a lawsuit (and save taxpayers money) is to require the District to re-submit their application requesting a zoning change or a special use for this property. Alternatively, the District (to avoid a lawsuit) could voluntarily withdraw their variance application and submit an application for change of use.
Cecilia Ambutas October 03, 2011 at 04:13 PM
Ramona, These are, indeed, the facts. http://www.glenbard.dupage.k12.il.us/districtnews/I04FC4392.1/MemorialEnhancementsQA.pdf Please note page two of this document which clearly states lights would be turned off at 10:00 pm. This document is from the District 87 website and was filed with the Memorial Field Variance Application. So Ramona, thanks for the suggestion.
Ramona October 03, 2011 at 04:55 PM
At the meetings at Village Hall, the school district stated 9 pm cut off with lights out at 9:30.
Maria October 03, 2011 at 05:44 PM
It really important to read the application and all of the other written reports and documents filed with the Village. The Village cannot impose restrictions on a variance (i.e.hours of operation). They either approve it or deny it. It cannot be a "conditional approval." The village can impose restrictions on a special use permit (but the District did not submit a special use application). In the variance application, it is stated that the hours of operation would be adopted as "policy" by D87, leaving the village and adjacent residents powerless when the District "needs" to revise thier own policy a couple years later. Here is a link to the application: http://glenellyn.org/GE/MemorialField/Memorial%20Field%20Variance%20Petitioner%20Application%20Packet.PDF

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