Crystal Lake self-storage facility plans approved for Crystal Bowl site, reversing plan commission

Self-storage facility coming to site where former bowling alley Crystal Bowl stood

The vacant Crystal Bowl, located at 4504 E. Terra Cotta Ave., may be turned into a self-storage business.

The Crystal Lake City Council has approved plans for a self-storage facility on the site of the former Crystal Bowl, overriding a negative recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The City Council’s approval in a 5-2 vote came after two rounds of the project coming before the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council. The City Council in January voted to send the project back to the commission for further review.

In giving its approval last week, most of the City Council members explained why they’d be in support or opposition to the project in a discussion leading up to the vote. Some of the council members noted the developer, Berman-Lapetina Enterprises LLC, incorporated the city’s requests in its second iteration.

“We asked you to make it two stories and you did,” council member Ellen Brady said. “Everything we asked you for, you did.”

The Planing and Zoning Commission gave the project a lukewarm negative recommendation in January. At that time, the commission expressed opposition to the facility’s proposed three stories, which is a variation from community standards by one story.

The City Council had expressed similar worries with the three stories, and asked the developer to scale it down to two stories.

“I really like the building at two stories. I think that it looks nice,” council member Ian Philpot said last week.

The approved iteration has two stories and no longer had space for outdoor storage. Planning and Zoning Commissioners still had concerns about the facility’s location in a “gateway” to Crystal Lake and concerns about potential disruption to neighbors.

“We asked you to make it two stories and you did. Everything we asked you for, you did.”

—  Crystal Lake City Council member Ellen Brady

“From our last appearance here, we’ve made significant changes to the project,” Jeff Budgell, the architect for the project, told the City Council.

While many of the council members expressed support for the project, council members Brett Hopkins and Denise Smith voiced opposition and voted against the approval.

“I don’t want it as an entrance point to Crystal Lake,” Smith said.

Because the Planning and Zoning Commission did not give its approval, the project needed two-thirds approval, or five votes, from the City Council for its zoning requests. The annexation required a simple majority.

“I don’t love the use there but I don’t have a problem with this,” council member Cameron Hubbard said.

Mayor Haig Haleblian said he changed his mind on the project.

“I’ve been a ‘no’ on it,” Haleblian said. “It’s just the location that bothers me.”

But, the mayor said, he was “not the storage police.” “It’s as good as we’re going to get,” he said.