The Glen Ellyn Plan Commission handed out early gifts of coal to opponents of a plan to install lights at Memorial Field.
On Tuesday the Plan Commission voted 6-3 in favor of lights at the athletic field, although there were some conditions attached to the vote. The approval called for a village advisory group to be created to review the lights annually, a 9 p.m. lights out policy at the field, no use of lights before the beginning of the school day and no lights to be used at the field over the summer months. The commissioners also attached a conditional use on a public address system with the lights ordinance. The commissioners recommended that a PA system cannot be used after 7 p.m. on nights when lights are in use.
Other variances approved by the commission would allow a new gate, fence and batting cage received greater support.
Although the commission’s vote was a major hurdle for to move forward with its plans, it is not the final stop. The village board of commissioners will now have to examine the plan and give its approval before any changes can take place at Memorial Field.
Members of Our Field Our Town, the group opposed to the lights, said despite the commissions’ vote, they will continue to press their concerns with the board of trustees.
“We haven’t given up,” Kirk Burger, president of OFOT, said after the vote.
Over the course of the public hearings OFOT expressed concern about noise and light pollution, as well as use of school funds for athletic facilities to the detriment of funding academic programs.
Tuesday night’s meeting was the first time members of the Plan Commission voiced their opinion about the multiple variances concerning Memorial Field, particularly the installation of a $300,000 lighting system.
Early in the meeting Commissioner Todd Buckton announced his opposition to the multiple variances before the board. He said the changes under the variances would alter the “quiet beauty and sublime pleasure” of Glen Ellyn. Buckton said the changes at the field were too much for the community.
Commissioner Jeff Girling agreed. He said the language before the commission specified the word locality, not village. He said lights will alter the character of the locality around the school.
“You will be able to see the lights from the surrounding area and that to me alters the central character of the locality.” Girling said.
Commissioner Linda Dykstra said the impact of light pollution to the surrounding neighborhoods was too significant for her support.
Commissioner Julie McCormick said the light spill from the field would not have a negative impact on neighboring properties. She did press for a change in the turnoff time, initially recommending 8 p.m. before agreeing with the 9 p.m. time.
Commissioner Eric Ford said he spent several hours walking around the field during athletic practices and games listening to the sounds of the games as well as traffic. Ford said his conclusion is “a lot of the imposition and difficulty presented as a disaster for the neighborhood” he doesn’t agree with.
When it was clear that a majority of the commissioners supported approving the variances, commissioners wrangled over the conditional uses they wanted attached to the variances before bringing a series of motions forward to approve the variances.
Staci Hulesberg, planning and development director, said village trustees are set to begin examining the Memorial Field variances at a Jan. 16 workshop. The village board could vote on the issue as soon as Jan. 23.