With CNH project looming, Burr Ridge to consider meaning of ‘manufacturing district’

With CNH project looming, Burr Ridge to consider meaning of ‘manufacturing district’

As Burr Ridge leaders begin to entertain proposals to develop the village’s CNH property, Village trustees Monday heard from the planning commission that the Village should revisit its definition of a manufacturing district.

The property is zoned for some industrial use, though CNH mostly used the property as a research park, meaning it was never a high-trafficked area and most of the workers left in the evening. In short, while it was industrial, it looked and operated like a business park rather than a factory site.

Earlier this year, the real estate development firm Bridge Industrial submitted a zoning proposal for a mixed-use development to include residential and industrial development among other things.

The update, as part of the regular Monday board meeting, was not a voting item meaning it did not require trustees to approve the consideration, but trustees and Mayor Gary Grasso all seemed to support the move, intended to shore up any doubts about the sort of facility the Village will allow at the 110-acre facility.

CNH, formerly International Harvester, announced plans to sell its property in 2022, leaving one of the largest corporate footprints in the village empty. Since that time, many residents who live near the space on Veterans Boulevard have expressed concerns the site could be developed into a loud, busy manufacturing hub and negatively affect the quality of life and home values. However, Grasso has pointed out any development must be met with board approval and community input and again, village officials welcomed residential input on this phase of the project as well.

Community Development Director Janine Farrell said she expects the planning commission’s process to welcome community input as to what would constitute a manufacturing district and clear up whatever hasn’t been defined or listed as allowed and prohibited uses.

“If something is not defined … then it shall be considered a prohibited use,” said Grasso. “If we do forget to list something … it shall be prohibited.”

Farrell added that anything not considered could always get later consideration.

One resident, Mary Bradley, said she hopes the site doesn’t allow truck traffic all night long.

“If there’s any way or any statement you can make opposing any warehouses that require major trucking traffic,” Bradley suggested, adding she hoped the area would remain light industrial. “I just really am concerned about adding warehouses that could be heavy industrial and should be included in a commercial area.”

“I’m still concerned about traffic, particularly along County Line Road,” she said. “I really hope we can find a way to protect our claim that Burr Ridge is a special place.”

Grasso thanked Bradley for her input on the matter and assured her the Village would consider her recommendations and concerns.

“We’re going through a very extensive process and what’s before the board right now is part of that. I think I can speak for the village that nobody wants a truck terminal,” said Grasso. “I don’t think anyone wants 24/7 truck traffic either and that’s something that we’ll look at very, very closely. … Do please be confident that the board understands many of the claims you’re making as does the planning commission.”

Finally, Grasso reminded Bradley and others there would be time for more community input as any proposals became clearer. In the meantime, residents — and anyone else — can get updates on the progress of the property and proposed developments by signing up for email updates on the Village’s website.

Jesse Wright is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.