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Local

Marklund neighbors worry about impact of new school

'We, as homeowners, were kind of blindsided by it all'

Five years ago, Marklund Life Skills Academy in DuPage County, met with opposition to its expansion plans from the surrounding community. This year, Marklund's Geneva facility at Mill Creek is meeting similar challenges as it plans to build a 24,000-square-foot, three-story day school on its campus.Neighbors say they are concerned about the traffic impact and other issues.
Five years ago, Marklund Life Skills Academy in DuPage County, met with opposition to its expansion plans from the surrounding community. This year, Marklund's Geneva facility at Mill Creek is meeting similar challenges as it plans to build a 24,000-square-foot, three-story day school on its campus.Neighbors say they are concerned about the traffic impact and other issues.

BLACKBERRY TOWNSHIP – The Kane County Zoning Board of Appeals will hear a petition April 9 from Marklund at Mill Creek to build a 24,000-square-foot, three-story day school on its campus.

Marklund at Mill Creek is asking for an amendment to its original planned unit development to build the school on two parcels that are 4.27 acres, records show. The school would serve up to 66 students from age 3 to 21, Marklund CEO Gil Fonger said.

“The original PUD did not show anything being developed there, but that is why we have to go back and ask for the amendment to show we want to build something there,” Fonger said.

Marklund has owned the property since 2000. It opened its residential facility for adults with profound developmental disabilities in 2002.

But neighbors to Marklund – while they support the organization’s mission – are not so happy with the proposal and plan to attend the zoning hearing with their concerns.

Karen Michel, whose house in the 39W400 block of South Hyde Park in the Mill Creek subdivision backs up to Marklund directly, said she will attend.

“They want to build a three-story school, which does not fit into the aesthetics of the neighborhood. The dumpsters will back up to houses on that side with a huge parking lot of 100 cars – and they say it won’t impact traffic,” Michel said. “You can’t say having 100 employees will not impact the area.”

Michel said traffic is a concern for a school that will be open year-round from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Though Fonger had said traffic would be confined to the corner of Wyatt Drive and Main Street, Michel said that corner is “horribly blind” and if the configuration is not corrected, traffic will impact the neighborhood.

“They’re trying to jam this building on a small area of land and it should not be there,” Michel said. “I feel like we, as homeowners, were kind of blindsided by it all.”

Another issue is that Marklund will have to move a walking path closer to their homes. The path is now about 100 yards away, Michel said.

“We don’t have fences. We like the open area,” Michel said. “Now we’re going to have to put up a fence.”

Fonger said he and the architect plan to meet with the neighbors before the zoning hearing to see what kind of compromise they can support.

“We are looking at how to situate the building farther south on the parcel to have it farther away from their homes, which will make the impact less,” Fonger said. “They would just like to have the least impact as possible and I think we can come up with a compromise that does that. … I really do think we can work this out.”

Once the ZBA makes a recommendation on Marklund’s request, it will go to the Kane County Board’s next meeting for final action, Fonger said.

If approved, Marlund plans to break ground in the fall and open in August 2020.

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