Crystal Lake truck expansion request denied by zoning commission. Next up: City Council

NVA Transportation will take their rezoning request to City Council Feb. 6

Concerned nearby reisdent Kevin McVearry, center, listens to a presentation during a Planning and Zoning meeting at Crystal Lake City Hall on Wednesday, January 24, 2024. Crystal Lake trucking company NVA Transportation is seeking a rezoning of their Sands Road property to expand the business . Ryan Rayburn for Shaw Local

Crystal Lake’s Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously voted against recommending NVA Transportation’s rezoning request.

The plans to expand NVA’s Sands Road site to create a freight terminal and truck repair facility have prompted organized opposition from nearby residents.

More than 100 people packed into Crystal Lake City Hall to stand in solidarity against the request after a lengthy meeting Wednesday evening that carried into the early hours of Thursday.

NVA Transportation, located at 7013 Sands Road, is looking to create a freight terminal on its 22-acre property with 328 truck parkings spaces and a new building that would be 28 feet tall and about 36,200 square feet. The proposal for the new structure includes seven service bays, storage areas, an office area and a warehouse area with an indoor loading dock.

NVA Transportation currently parks about 60 to 70 semi-trucks, owner Ivan Nartsev said.

Architect Aleksandr Vaysman described the project as a “state-of-the-art transportation facility.”

“It’s not a warehouse. It’s really not a trucking terminal,” Vaysman said.

NVA first proposed the changes to the commission in July, which ended with a request by the city commission to have further impact studies completed. There have been a total of four delays requested by NVA Transportation since its first proposal in July.

Since that meeting, a traffic study, an environmental report and an appraisal report have been completed. All three came to the conclusion that the plan would not substantially impact traffic, the environment and home values.

Crystal Lake Planning and Zoning Commission chairman Jeff Greenman speaks during a Planning and Zoning meeting at Crystal Lake City Hall on Wednesday, January 24, 2024. Crystal Lake trucking company NVA Transportation is seeking a rezoning of their Sands Road property to expand the business . Ryan Rayburn for Shaw Local

The traffic study, conducted by Civiltech Engineering, predicted one semi-truck would pass through the area every four to 12 minutes, with the majority of the traffic being on Route 14 and 31, traffic engineer Steve Pautsch said.

Adjustments to the original proposal also were made since the July meeting. Changes include a dedicated left turn lane on Sands Road, an added fence surrounding the property, an extended water main line and relocating the facility farther away from homes.

“The neighbors have done a great job educating us,” NVA attorney Mark Daniel said.

Attorneys representing the residents David McArdle and Lisa Waggoner and residents themselves raised critical questions and arguments.

Waggoner brought truck driving school owner Sandra Grantham to speak on her expertise on truck facilities. Grantham explained NVA’s proposal is very similar to a “quasi truck stop.”

“It’s really not a good idea to plan any kind of truck parking or truck services next to a residential area,” she said. “If a driver were to miss the entrance, which happens all the time, they’re going to end up in a residential neighborhood.”

Concerns included safety, air pollution, water contamination, storm water drainage and negative effects on home values. Resident Brian Anders argued all of their concerns are “detrimental to a child’s development.”

Resident Kevin McVearry pointed out dangerous blind spots from the hills along Sands Road.

“This road cannot handle this proposed traffic,” he said. “If allowed to be seven times their current size, we can expect seven times the problem.”

The planning and zoning commission set numerous conditions for the plan. Drivers will not be permitted to sleep in the trucks and trucks are not allowed to idle overnight or for more than 90 minutes.

There will be locker rooms with showers in the building, but only for mechanics employees, Daniel said. Commissioner Bill Gronow questioned if drivers would have access to the showers, addressing concerns of drivers staying overnight sleeping in the trucks.

McArdle also raised questions on how the city would enforce the regulations.

NVA removed trees and woodlands in October 2022 in preparation for the expansion. The proposal states the company will replant 270 trees, with 210 of them being evergreens. It will take about six years for trees to reach 8 feet tall, landscape architect Jeff Cook said.

Commissioner Natasha Teetsov noted there are no similar facilities in nearby towns and doesn’t believe Crystal Lake wants to be the “pioneer of this endeavor.”

“I do not see this proposal as a mutually beneficial opportunity from the perspective of the residents,” she said.

Many commissioners said they don’t want to support the special use permit to build the facility, noting that it does not meet their requirements.

“A petition like this is loaded with controversy and emotion, and sometimes that’s really challenging for us as a commission so we don’t become sidetracked,” Commissioner Bill Gronow said.

The next step for NVA Transportation is to propose the request to the City Council on Feb. 6.