Darien City Council puts brakes on proposed truck terminal near Waterfall Glen

DARIEN – A plan to build a warehouse in Darien that would include 31 truck loading docks was rejected Sept. 4 by the Darien City Council.

Aldermen voted 4-3 against a proposed height variance to build a warehouse on 10.25 acres east of Cass Avenue on Frontage Road, adjacent to the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve.

The plan was put forth by Sterling Bay, a Chicago-based development company.

The vote came after other Darien boards recommended approval of the 4-foot increase in the height of the proposed structure.

In July, the Darien Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the variance, and the city’s Municipal Services Committee on Aug. 27 voted 2-1 in its favor as well.

But critics of the plan were vocal in their opposition. They especially objected to the warehouse's proximity to Waterfall Glen, a 2,500-acre forest preserve that surrounds Argonne National Laboratory.

The forest preserve features 11 miles of trails, 740 native plant species and more than 300 species of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles, according to the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County's website.

Opponents believed the forest preserve would be in jeopardy if the warehouse were constructed. They also were concerned about the potential air and noise pollution, as well as potential toxins caused by the trucks entering and exiting the facility.

"Darien, surrounding communities and Waterfall Glen almost became a truck stop," Darien resident Chuck Fischer said in an email.

Social media was a key component in successfully battling the plan, he said.

"Social media enabled the community to quickly find out about the proposed warehouse and the calendar of events regarding it," said Fischer, who led the fight against the warehouse.

About 2,500 people signed a petition in opposition to the warehouse. The petition was accessible via a website designed by opponents. They also created a Facebook page to voice concerns.

"Area residents filled City Hall and strongly voiced their opposition to the warehouse at the last two meetings," Fischer said. "Thanks to four young aldermen who believed in science and listened to their constituents, the warehouse was stopped."

Following the vote, Darien Mayor Kathleen Weaver said some of the information issued by opponents of the project was inaccurate.

"It's been a difficult subject especially when we see all of the misinformation that went out," Weaver said.

Alderman Joseph Marchese, who voted in favor of the plan, echoed similar concerns.

"These kinds of things scare people," Marchese said. "I just didn't appreciate the information."

Marchese, who lives near the site for the proposed terminal, said he favored the plan based on the information he was given and because "it was good for Darien."