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Sycamore planning commission approves design for Meijer store

SYCAMORE – A Rockford-based development company is another step closer to building a Meijer supercenter in Sycamore with approval Monday from the city’s planning commission.

After hearing concerns from residents living near the proposed development, commissioners voted, 8-0, Monday in favor of the plans by First Midwest Group. Commissioner Nathan Schwartz abstained, and commissioners Marvin Barnes, Michelle Schulz, Kevin Buick and Penny Carter were absent.

The Sycamore City Council will vote on final approval of a special-use permit for the store during its Monday meeting.

City Manager Brian Gregory said the development would be in one lot of the Sycamore Crossings property located at the northwest corner of DeKalb Avenue and Peace Road, which the city annexed in 2006. Another lot would be dedicated for future water drainage.

Sycamore Crossings includes about 65 acres of commercially zoned property and 17 acres of residential property, mainly houses along Anjali Court, Gregory said.

The project would consist of the 193,000-square-foot store and a proposed 688 parking spots, Gregory said. Although the size of the store requires 857 spaces, the city anticipates future commercial developments from First Midwest Group that could share parking, he said.

Gregory said Sycamore Crossings is likely to see more than 400,000 square feet of commercial retail space.

“At the end of the day, you want the appropriate number of parking spaces, but we don’t want a sea of parking, especially if it’s not utilized, as it’s not aesthetically and visually very attractive,” he said.

The plans also include a 6-foot fence and row of trees behind the store as a barrier to the residences along Anjali Court.

Ron Davis, a Sycamore resident living on Anjali Court, shared his concerns with commissioners Monday, including that the proposed fence was too short.

“I’m not sure how much a 6-foot fence is really going to disguise much,” he said. “I’m 6-foot-3; I’m going to be staring over it in a heartbeat. So in my opinion, it should probably be 10 feet.”

Davis also said he does not believe there is room for another grocery store in Sycamore, with several area grocery stores already competing for business.

Commission Chairman Bill Davey said allowing businesses to sink or swim based on support from consumers is how capitalism works. Davey also said homeowners in Sycamore Crossings knew a large commercial development would eventually be in the works.

“I don’t think it’s our responsibility to tell them they can’t make a living in our community; it’s up to them, and the community will vote with their dollars,” Davey said. “If they win, they’ll win. If they don’t they’ll go out of business, and that’s the way things happen.”

Lawrence Engelsman, a Sycamore resident living on Brock Circle south of the proposed store, also shared his concerns with commissioners.

Engelsman said his view from his home looking north would be the loading area, and he asked why the proposed line of trees did not extend all the way down. He also asked about possible light pollution from the store to nearby homes.

Michael Mondus, executive vice president at SPACECO Inc. site planning and engineering company, said future developments in other lots of Sycamore Crossings would have to individually include plans for barriers.

“You have to understand this is a piece of a larger development,” he said. “There is going to be more retail development south of us, where the delivery area will be blocked by another building.”

Mondus also said Meijer uses LED light fixtures, and there would not be any light spillover into nearby homes.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposal during its 7 p.m. Monday meeting in the Council Chambers of the Sycamore Center, 308 W. State St.

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