New Lenox Plan Commission makes recommendation of annexation, rezoning of property for Casey’s Gas Station

The New Lenox plan commission voted to recommend annexing and rezoning property for a proposed Casey’s gas station at the corner of Route 30 and West Circle Drive, which was formerly the Smith Brothers Garden Center.

The location is at 2601 East Lincoln Highway on the far east side of New Lenox.

The matter will now move on to the village board. The plan commission is a recommendation body and has no approval authority. Tuesday’s meeting lasted five hours, spanning from 7 p.m. to midnight.

Around 150 people showed up to the meeting on Tuesday, though they were spaced out around New Lenox Village Hall, as sound was provided throughout the building.

During the public hearing, roughly 54 emails were read and nearly 20 people spoke in person. All were against the proposal. However, many stated they are not opposed to commercial use for the location, just that they are against a gas station. A petition on change.org also received more than 1,200 signatures in opposition of the gas station.

The complaints and concerns were consistent among the speakers and emailers.

The most repeated concerns were: noise, increased traffic, safety, fencing, gas run off into Hickory Creek and their neighborhood, flooding, property values decreasing, the dangers of underground tanks damaging their wells and septic, harming wildlife, 24 hour operation and that it will be an “eyesore.”

Others expressed concerns about trucks but by the end of the meeting it was made clear that this station will not have any diesel pumps.

Erik Nikkel, the petitioner for Casey’s, was did not attend the meeting.

Mike MacKinnon, the property owner, spoke about the sale of the land.

As many residents stated, they are not against rezoning the property. One made a suggestion to counter what MacKinnon said about the property being so sought after. With it being the furthest east entrance to New Lenox on Route 30, the petitioner feels it would be valuable. Resident Mike Delorey prepared a powerpoint for his speech and suggested a sign, such as, “Welcome to New Lenox” would be a better option for that location.

Residents also countered MacKinnon by saying with it being the furthest east, it will be criminals’ first stop in New Lenox and they believe a gas station could attract that.

Walter Krzak of Hickory Creek Animal Hospital, which is next door of the proposed Casey’s location said, “It’s the right time for a business, but the wrong place to put a gas station.”

Lincolnwood Hills subdivision, which is behind the Casey’s proposed location, is outside the village and on well water. One resident asked if they would allow something like this if it impacted the village’s drinking water.

The next step will be to bring this to the village board where another public hearing will be held and more steps will be taken to possibly bring it to a vote. All issues and concerns will also need to be addressed by the petitioner to the best of his ability.

Sean Hastings

Sean is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet covering the Village of New Lenox. He covers the local school districts, village board, and other community news and feature stories. He joined the staff in September 2020.