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updated: 4/30/2021 5:35 PM

Fight over proposed gas station in Mundelein isn’t over

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Despite rejection from Mundelein's planning and zoning commission last month, the fight over a proposed Thornton's gas station on the village's north side isn't over.

At Monday's village board meeting, residents and two trustees objected to a request from the would-be developers to merge two adjoining properties near routes 45 and 176 into a single, 2.8-acre parcel, one of the steps needed to make the business a reality.

The measure eventually passed, but only after impassioned pleas to stop the project and accusations of, as resident Sara J.W. Larkin put it, "a railroad job with more concern for big business than for the consequences to village residents."

"Please slow down," Larkin urged.

A Northbrook company called GMX Real Estate Group has a contract to buy the land and proposed the Thornton's.

The Original Omega Restaurant & Pancake House, 10 E. Maple Ave., and a vacant industrial building at 739 N. Lake St. stand on the land now. Both buildings would be razed.

Nearby residents have voiced concerns about traffic, light at night, the potential impact on the environment and other issues.

Last month, the planning and zoning commission -- a group that advises the village board -- rejected a slew of requested variations from village building codes covering parking, the brightness of lights and other elements.

GMX subsequently withdrew the plan before the board could consider it.

Under municipal and state rules, if the board had voted and rejected the requests for zoning exceptions, GMX would have had to wait at least one year to resubmit. But because the board hasn't voted on the plan, the developers are able to resubmit the proposal any time they'd like.

"Because GMX pulled their petition before it reached the village board, they are not subject to that one-year requirement," Mayor Steve Lentz explained Monday night. Village attorney Kelly Cahill later agreed.

Additionally, Cahill and other attorneys in the room said parcel consolidation isn't a zoning matter and thus isn't bound by the same one-year restriction.

Some of the people who objected to the proposal Monday questioned how GMX was able to request the property consolidation without waiting a year, seemingly unaware of or misunderstanding the applicable rules. So did Trustee Robin Meier, who accused village staffers of handling the matter improperly and called for an independent investigation into the matter.

"We need to see who knew about it and when did they know," said Meier, whose term on the board ended Friday.

In response, Village Administrator Eric Guenther said he was offended by the allegations Meier raised about his involvement in the matter, as well as about Lentz's and Cahill's roles.

The merger proposal passed 4-2, with Meier and Trustee Dawn Abernathy dissenting.

If GMX doesn't want to risk formal rejection of the previously desired zoning variations, the group can propose plans for a Thornton's station that don't require them. Village officials said they don't know GMX's intentions.

A GMX representative couldn't be reached.