ST. CHARLES – Aldermen are voicing concerns about a proposal to redevelop the site of a former gas station on West Main Street.
The proposal is to reestablish the gas station use. The property is located at 1023 W. Main St., at the southeast corner of West Main Street and South 11th Street.
Concept plans call for razing the current 750 square foot convenience store and replace it with a two-story 2,868 square foot building that would have a 1,434 square foot convenience store on the first floor and a 1,100 to 1,200 square foot single-family residential unit on the second floor.
Neighbors have written letters to the city saying they thought the proposed apartment would be an eyesore and could also cause parking problems. Aldermen reviewed the plans at Monday's Planning and Development Committee meeting after plan commissioners previously reviewed the plans.
Like the plan commissioners and some surrounding neighbors, aldermen were also concerned about the proposed apartment. First Ward Alderman Ron Silkaitis said he was not "thrilled" with the proposed residential unit.
He also objected to the number of variances that are being requested, including that no landscaping is being planned.
"That goes against everything we've tried to do in other places in St. Charles," Silkaitis said.
Mohammed Shahid Ali is officer of the trust that owns the property. As proposed, his son would live in the apartment and would run the gas station full time.
"He's growing up in the business and is autistic, so they thought it would be a good place for him to be able to stay and help run that business," Eric Carlson, president of Geneva-based ECA Architects and Planners, told aldermen. "It's not necessarily a rental apartment, but it could turn into that."
A public hearing on the proposal will be held once plans are formally submitted to the city. The previous two gas pumps along with the station's underground tanks were recently removed along with any contaminated soil.
Plans are to install three gas pumps, a new underground storage tank, canopy and parking area as part of the project. The station would remain a Clark gas station, with the hours of operation being from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.
A gas station has operated on the property for several decades. Ali has said he has talked to many of the neighbors about the project.
"They want us to keep the gas station the way it is – a small, neighborhood kind of gas station," Ali had told plan commissioners. "The main purpose of the dwelling unit is we wanted to use it as a storage and a condo unit for the person who is operator-owner. It's only going to be a single bedroom condo."
Ali said he has tried to work with his neighbors.
"Without their business, I am nowhere," he said. "At the end of the day, it's a small neighborhood store. If I am not good to my neighbors, nobody's going to walk into my store."