JUNE 10, 2003 AT 7:30 PM






Chairman Fullmer called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. Secretary Lube called the roll; the following members were

PRESENT: Chairman Richard Fullmer, Jr., Mr. Fred Fahey, Secretary Robert Lube, Mr. Edward Ziemba

ABSENT: Mr. Daniel Moss, Mr. Frank O’Brien

ALSO PRESENT: Mayor LeGant, Ald. Fajdich, Ald. Conrad, Bldg. Comm. Krautstrunk, City Administrator Bailey, Comm. Dev. Off. Muenzer, City Attorney Robert Peck


Chairman Fullmer read the Notice of Public Hearing for this Special Meeting to review submissions for the City of Countryside Comprehensive Plan. The two presenters are: Trkla, Pettigrew, Allen, & Payne, Inc., (TPAP) Chicago, IL and Teska Associates, Inc., Evanston, IL. Mr. Muenzer stated that Teska Associates, Inc., will present their proposal and respond to questions from the Board and audience.

Mr. Bob Teska thanked the City for the opportunity to submit a proposal. He provided the audience with a 10-page illustrated presentation which included various aerial photographs of the City. He stated that the Comprehensive Plan will be the basis for establishing policies/priorities for coordinated development/redevelopment, as well as potential future infrastructure expansion. They will help the City in this goal through education, facilitation, motivation and finally implementation and production. Mr. Teska introduced his consultant team of Bill Volpe, Jodi Mariano, and representing Business Districts, Inc., an affiliated firm, Mr. Terry Jenkins.

Teska Associates has completed over 40 Comprehensive Plans, many for mature communities. They have completed over 60 business district and corridor plans; their expertise includes corridor and town center planning and community character enhancement. Their proposal offers six phases of the project and the estimated time line for completing each task. They will review zoning ordinances to determine their compatibility with the new recommendations of the Comprehensive Plan. This will be accomplished with a budget of $65,000 over a period of 12 months.

Mr. Bill Volpe discussed highlights of their proposal. He stated that community participation is the most important element of this process. Their approach includes community participation by way of key person interviews with residents, business owners, officials; public listening sessions where residents provide input; workshop activities including visioning and community building; use of the City Web site/Newsletter to post information. Another opportunity for input is the community survey to determine present resident status and future priorities. The key sites in the City are the LaGrange Road and Joliet Road corridors as well as Countryside Plaza. They will pursue ways to generate more revenue from the industrial corridors. Their plan covers review of neighborhoods, issues regarding teardowns and how to regulate that. They also review parks and recreation with an interest to linking the parks together via bike paths and pedestrian walkways.

Mr. Terry Jenkins stated that the “special places” will be evaluated including the three business areas mentioned above — What is the City’s vision (5-10 years) from a functional and revenue-generating point of view for those areas? They determine the market place potential of those areas, and finally, what does the footprint for those areas allow. Their primary focus is business district redevelopment. Countryside has an extremely strong employee count for a community of this size which contributes to the success of the retail corridor. They will complete a market assessment, suggest streetscape improvements and provide a coordinated development approach.

Ms. Jodi Mariano is a landscape architect working closely with team member focusing on Special Areas including Route 66 (Joliet Road). IDOT has completed a study within the last 5-6 years which is a resource for development along the corridor. She discussed her previous experience in corridor development projects including the Lincoln Highway, St. Charles Road and Harlem Avenue corridor (15 miles long) entailing the cooperation of 11 communities.

Mr. Teska discussed the elements of Town Center Strategy as it relates to Countryside Plaza. Will the decision be to redevelop the area into a town center; the land mass offers that opportunity for potential redevelopment. As they view the function of the plaza, keep in mind does it have town center capability, depending on ownership and marketplace strategies. He discussed Town Center planning and land use, site design, access and circulation and market assessment. Other Town Center plans they have prepared include Willow Springs Village Center (5-story condo/commercial building) and LaGrange Park Village Center (3-story mixed-use building) that is pedestrian oriented. Finally, implementation becomes an action plan. They will review zoning maps /ordinances and make recommendations to amend sections to be more compatible with the new comprehensive plan. In summary, Mr. Teska stated that the team knows the region very well and have had relevant similar experiences; they are action oriented, dedicated to their clients and communities, meet budgets and schedules and conduct their work enthusiastically. He thanked the board for its attention and will be happy to answer any questions.

Chairman Fullmer stated that some vacant land on Joliet Road and LaGrange Road needs to be developed. The auto dealerships are the major revenue producers and should be included in all future plans. The question of affordable first-time home ownership arises. What was the cost of the optional community survey? Mr. Teska stated that all the issues including housing trends and teardowns will be addressed. The survey costs between $5-6,000, depending on the scope, the role of the community, and whether the questionnaire is incorporated into the Newsletter or mailed out. Mr. Jenkins stated that empty nesters wishing to remain in the community may be willing to purchase higher quality brick townhomes and/or condos. That solution may address those needs if the City’s vision lies in that direction. Mr. Teska stated that a number of communities offer financial assistance to first-time purchasers; that is another option. Mr. Lube asked whether State or Federal funds might be employed. Mr. Teska stated that the Route 66 plan prepared for IDOT in May does provide some opportunities. Mr. Jenkins responded to an earlier question about evaluation of land use in corridors incorporates the City’s vision for its ultimate use, plus the economics of the land, and finally, do the economics support the vision. Will the revenue support the function? They will provide revenue projections on land uses, both commercial and residential. Mr. Muenzer asked whether the two secondary corridors, 55th St. and Plainfield Road, will be included in the plan. They are included but will not receive the same level of time and effort as the two primary corridors. Mr. Muenzer also asked about the State of Illinois Local Plan Act mandating a list of elements which must be addressed. Mr. Teska is familiar with the legislation and stated that the final document will address all the topics in that legislation. Ald. Fajdich stated that office buildings bring no revenue to the city. Mr. Jenkins stated that while not contributing property tax to the City, offices do provide jobs for residents; retail should be kept at ground level to generate sales taxes etc., with office space located above. That is the kind of creative thinking being brought to corridors today. Mayor LeGant stated that the City does experience occasional serious flooding; has that been taken into consideration? Mr. Teska noted it is fundamental in any plan to address those issues by adequate storm water retention and utility systems. Mr. Muenzer thanked the team members for their presentation.

Mr. Muenzer presented the TPAP team of Trkla, Pettigrew, Allen and Payne. He introduced John Houseal, the project manager who in turn introduced Thomas Payne, Principal and co-founder of TPAP. They are a city planning and economic development firm established in 1977 and located in downtown Chicago. They have prepared approximately 45 comprehensive plans for communities across the country. They specialize in preparing detailed plans for downtown areas and commercial corridors, residential neighborhoods and industrial districts. In recent years the firm has developed special expertise in dealing with TIF projects. He thanked the City for the opportunity to present their proposal. TPAP is joined by Dan Gardner, of Economics Research Associates, a market consultant. The market component is a very critical part of the planning process; they will be reviewing the four major corridors – LaGrange Road, Joliet Road, 55th St. and Plainfield Road – all have very important marketing features. Also, TPAP is in the process of developing an affiliation with the firm URS Corporation, one of the largest architectural and engineering firms in the country. This association will allow a whole range of new services not available to clients in the past, such as landscape architecture, transportation planning, environmental engineering and brownfields development.

Mr. Dan Gardner of ERA does marketing and economic planning, working with the client from development through to implementation. They will define the key four sub-areas plus the unincorporated areas for potential annexation; they work behind the scenes, look at market influences and development opportunities in the region to determine how those potential influences might affect the City 5-10 years down the road. The fact that the City has no property tax is a tremendous draw for the residential market. There is good housing stock in the area; growth opportunities and how that influences future retailing is what ERA does. The proximity to transportation is excellent; all these factors are taken into consideration in developing the final plan.

Mr. John Houseal, the project director, related the firm’s previous experience in the greater metropolitan area. West Cook County has a great deal of built-out communities that have unique situations, such as linear commercial corridors. The question is how to establish viable commercial corridors and safeguard the existing stable residential neighborhood immediately behind it? They have recently developed plans for Forest Park, River Forest, Melrose Park, Brookfield including 3 TODs (transportation-oriented development) planning three Metra Stations in conjunction with the Village, IDOT and RTA. They also did planning for Lyons, Palos Park, Palos Heights, Orland Park (143rd St.) and the first ever comprehensive plan for Homer Glen. No other firm can bring that level of understanding to this portion of the Chicago Regional Area. While every situation is unique, similar issues arise in all these communities; they will be addressed accordingly.

Ms. Krista Kahle, urban designer and planner, is involved with economic development and has reviewed existing conditions. Team members spent the entire day traveling through each street in the City trying to get a sense of community. She was very impressed with the City’s diverse areas such as the forest preserve, well-maintained stable housing stock, commercial areas, and wonderful park system, especially Countryside Park. They would focus on LaGrange Road, as the primary retail corridor, signage and buffering may be enhanced to improve and reestablish vitality of the area. Countryside Plaza holds the main opportunity for redevelopment; new tenants will put a new face on the plaza; they suggest upgrading signage or improve parking, making it more user friendly. The residential areas include some multi-family units and condos in a variety of price ranges; they saw several teardowns. They would focus on protecting and enhancing the neighborhoods and developing guidelines for future redevelopment. She has experience in tax increment financing (TIF) projects having done five in Oak Lawn, and several in Evergreen Park.

Mr. Houseal stated that the commercial corridors are established but need some help in key locations. To build on the existing conditions, they have established four different sub-areas, to which they will devote a level of detail in addition to and as part of the general comprehensive plan.

LaGrange Road the primary arterial, largest mixed-use corridor; that area should have parcel-by-parcel dissection.

Intersection of 55th and Plainfield Road.

Intersection of 55th St and City Hall area – vacant parcels to the north and west.

Joliet Road; each area has unique issues within these four specific areas.

The unincorporated areas.

To begin the process they recommend establishing a steering committee or advisory committee; that could be the current PC/ZBA. In some communities the committee includes two elected officials, two residents, two property owners and two members of the PC/ZBA, to get a mix of constituents. The consulting team, the steering committee and City staff would then go through the seven-step process.

Step 1 — the initiation meeting, to review the entire scope of the project.

Step 2 – community outreach — including workshop participation seeking community input by inviting business owners and residents to reveal what their major concerns are. Identify the key individuals — those 15 or 20 important people that should be contacted.

Website and Newsletter – developing a Comprehensive Plan linked to the Website with a list of meetings, post results of workshops, as a way for the residents to track the project in terms of input, output and scheduling. Community Survey is an optional step.

Step 3 – Data collection and analysis — establish a snapshot of the City at this time, including demographics, marketplace, land use conditions, transportation problems, infrastructure issues, etc. establish a comprehensive assessment of all community factors. They use the information to produce a synthesis report.

Step 4 – visioning exercises – where do you want to be as a City in ten years?

Step 5 — how to put recommendations into action; pull together the three preliminary community-wide plans for land use, transportation and facilities affecting the community as a whole.

Step 6 — developing specific lot-by-lot detailed plans for the five different sub-areas proposed with detailed recommendations, i.e., zoning revisions as needed.

Step 7 — review these recommendations with the steering committee and the public and produce the document based on community feedback.

The Comprehensive Plan will incorporate all the above; they will develop a matrix with the 50 most important things that need to be done to make the plan happen. They identify sources of local, state and federal funding to assist in getting the job done. The entire process consumes about a year, building consensus from the community each step of the way. That completes the presentation.

Mr. Lube believes the steering committee concept is a good idea. Citizen participation is important because the comprehensive plan affects everyone in the community; all must have multiple opportunities to participate; it is crucial for residents and the business community to voice their opinions/concerns. Mr. Peck asked about the nature of the survey. Mr. Houseal stated that surveys are tailored to the community; he anticipates 25-30 questions regarding shopping and driving habits, transportation, location in the community, in your view what are the three most important issues in the community; which should the board address? Distribution of the survey can be included with water bills, incorporated in the Newsletter or mailed out individually. The City would distribute, collect and tabulate responses. TPAP will analyze the data and identify trends; feedback is critical.

Chairman Fullmer asked about business interests. He was advised that a series of meetings will include business owners who make recommendations for land use. As a community Countryside needs a focal point, a “heart of the community”. They will identify a mixed use site or area with pedestrian orientation which will be a signature project. They also identify priority redevelopment sites, develop a list of preferred options, parcel by parcel. Mr. Lube noted that the traffic problems are growing. The new firm, URS, has an excellent transportation division which will be employed to address the problem. Signage was prominently mentioned in the presentation. Krista stated that opportunities exist to unify commercial signage along LaGrange Road – develop guidelines to accommodate commercial access and visibility of signage, without losing business parking. Major corridors should have community identity, which is very important. The corridors should reflect the character of the community and they do not. Mr. Fahey asked about new legislation regarding affordable and special needs housing. The State of Illinois recently passed new legislating stating what must be included in a comprehensive plan — telecommunications, utilities and affordable housing. Any application for funding, either DNR or IDOT must address those issues.

In response to questions about mixed use multiple-unit dwellings, suggestions included commercial ground floor with residential above, such as high quality town homes. There is increased demand and need for senior housing. Studies indicate that 1,500 square foot one-level contemporary condo/townhome design with indoor parking on the first four floors and living areas above are future trends. Countryside does not have a true downtown. To enhance the present commercial corridors they will identify redevelopment sites, prepare design guidelines, look at commercial uses that remain, and look at right of way itself, landscape, lights, signage — all help create an image; these features will be included in the comprehensive plan. The town center concept with mixed use commercial including pedestrian orientation is an important key. They will identify under-utilized sites; when a comprehensive plan is initiated, this process will trigger developer interest via the doctrine of “fair certainty.” Mayor LeGant asked about the reasonable ratio of rental to home ownership. Countryside must decide on that issue; there is no definite answer. Mr. Muenzer asked how TPAP will implement strategies regarding plaza development. They follow a multi-step approach including identifying implementation actions, categorizing them — infrastructure improvement, land use development, urban design and community care, funding availability, prioritize actions and finally monitor ongoing progress. Mr. Houseal thanked the City for the opportunity to present their proposal for the comprehensive plan. Mr. Muenzer thanked them for their articulate presentation.

Chairman Fullmer asked Mr. Muenzer for his recommendation. He stated that a total of 8 proposals were received; he read them all and recommended the two tonight due to their inherent quality. In his professional opinion, and after discussion with colleagues in the area, he believes that TPAP is the firm to employ due to a number of factors: their preliminary fieldwork is excellent; their work program is well defined and tailored to the needs of Countryside; they are experienced, they know the area, they know the primary corridors; and finally their references are nothing but glowing. He believes their work program and references are superior to Teska Associates. Mr. Krautstrunk agrees with the assessment. TPAP is industry centered and will focus on maintenance and improvement of the commercial corridors. Mayor LeGant agrees with both assessments; they are knowledgeable and included all important factors. All the major areas were addressed, not only the two major corridors. Aldermen present agree with the in-depth nature of the presentation and believe that future outlook was addressed. Mr. Bailey stated that in detail and specifics, TPAP’s presentation was superior, however, implementation is the key. Their emphasis on commercial corridors is important because the residential areas are well-established. They will provide an analysis for each section in the five sub-areas so at the completion the plan can be implemented. URS is a hugely capable firm that will complement TPAP. They should have soup to nuts capability. He believes Countryside will benefit mostly from what TPAP will deliver.

Mr. Fahey moved, seconded by Mr. Ziemba, to employ the firm of TPAP to develop the City of Countryside Comprehensive Plan. Motion carried by Roll Call vote – 4/0/2.


There being no further business to discuss, Mr. Fahey moved, seconded by Mr. Lube to adjourn the meeting. Motion carried by unanimous voice vote.

Chairman Fullmer declared the meeting adjourned at 10:00 p.m.