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Comprehensive Plan: Is High Density in Plainfield’s Future?

Proposed plan for southwest side of town includes mix of apartments, townhomes, duplexes.

A decade ago — the last time the village’s comprehensive plan was updated — the economy was booming, and it seemed developers couldn’t build enough high-end housing to satisfy consumers.

But times have changed, according to trustee Bill Lamb, who served as chairman of the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee. The large developments that flooded the village in the early 2000s are a thing of the past.

“The opportunities to build those kind of houses are now diminished … the demographics have changed,” Lamb said.

These days, he said, home buyers are looking for a more diverse mix of housing products, from young professionals looking to upgrade to empty nesters looking to downsize.

On Monday, village trustees heard from committee members, who have been working since last fall to craft a blueprint for Plainfield’s future growth, including a proposal that would bring a mix of affordable multi-family housing to the village.

“Perhaps the most remarkable change will be the projected decrease in the rate of growth and the projected population of 62,000 people by 2030,” Planner Michael Garrigan said in a memo to the village board, adding the comprehensive plan focuses on how the village will accommodate those additional 22,000 residents.

According to Garrigan, the best way to accommodate that growth would be to promote development in areas with existing utilities.

A shortage of affordable lots in north Plainfield could mean developers will look to expand into the southwest part of town, where utilities are already in place to serve the existing Creekside Crossing and Springbank developments, he noted.

The downturn of the housing market has meant both of the partially built-out developments have met with limited success, Garrigan said, leaving room for growth.

Southwest Plan

On Monday, trustees heard the proposed vision for what committee members called the Southwestern Plan, which encompasses the section of south Plainfield bordering the City of Joliet.

The area lies west of Drauden Road and south of Renwick Road.

Garrigan said a dramatic demographic change will likely create a demand for higher-density housing.

“Approximately 75 percent of future households will be non-traditional,” shifting away from what he called the “Ozzie and Harriet-type” household, Garrigan said.

“Plainfield will still be predominantly single family but there will be a market for other types of product,” he noted. “This plan is to try to respond to future demographics over the next 10, 20 years.”

Trustees got a preview of what that could look like as a developer laid out tentative plans for the Vista Pointe subdivision, which calls for a mix of single family and multi-family housing including apartments, townhomes, duplexes and large manor homes.

The development, which is at the corner of Ridge and Wheeler roads, would include multi-family housing along Ridge and County line roads among its proposed 1,203 units, breaking down as follows: 216 apartments, 104 townhomes, 87 manor home units and 20 duplexes.

The proposal also calls for four neighborhood parks, along with a school — a point that caused concern for at least one board member.

Trustee Margie Bonuchi, who is employed by the Plainfield School District, asked who would pay for the new school.

“It’s a nice idea,” she said. “In District 202, building a new school financially is not feasible.”

‘We can do better’

Bonuchi also had concerns with the proposed higher density.

“I do not want to market the south of Plainfield as the lesser end of town,” she said. “My big concern about this overall plan is the people density,” Bonuchi said, adding she was not sold on the concept of mixing apartments, manor homes and townhomes.

“It has to be looked at very carefully,” she said.

Trustee Dan Rippy agreed, saying he was concerned about the additional pressure the high density would put on local schools and fire protection district.

“Personally, I don’t think it’s the wisest choice to bend to the market immediately until we know what it’s going to be in 20 years,” he said.

“This reminds me of Lakewood Falls and that’s not what I envision for the future of the community,” Rippy added, referring to the large, multi-phase subdivision in unincorporated Plainfield. “I think we can do better.”

Developer Tom Small urged trustees not to dismiss the proposal.

“It’s always, ‘We don’t want this kind of people,’” he said. “These people are teachers, firefighters, police officers,” Small added, noting the proposed price points for the homes are in the $200,000s.

“Four to five years ago, these kind of people could afford $300,000, $400,000 [homes],” he said. “The reality is the marketplace has changed.”

Lamb noted that higher density doesn’t have to mean lower quality.

“We really want it to be something special,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be a cheap or inexpensive or lower-class part of town.”

Mayor Mike Collins stressed that the proposal is only a draft.

“It’s just a blueprint,” he said. “ … Because the economy is so slow right now, we have to have a vision for what we want.”

Trustees Paul Fay and Garrett Peck were absent from Monday night's Committee of the Whole meeting.

Read more about the proposed comprehensive plan update here.

Ron November 27, 2012 at 11:34 PM
It's good to see a more diverse mix of housing coming to Plainfield including apartments. But where's the focus on commercial development where it doesn't send anyone to the schools? No need to build schools for commercial property. Here's a perfect example of the elected officials trying to push away yet another developer.
Ed Arter November 28, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Build JOBS, not houses. Time to Wake Up----You can't buy a house it you don't have a JOB! Commercial/Manufacturing/Distribution/Retail means jobs, all BEFORE we build a glut of houses. Maybe the next board presentation should be chaired by someone (Corpration) who brings $ into the village. Housing should follow not lead!
Tim November 28, 2012 at 12:21 AM
I see Margie is finally showing her bigoted true self; “I do not want to market the south of Plainfield as the lesser end of town,” Why would you do that? Who said anything about 'lesser end of town'? Do you honestly think people in townhomes are 'beneath you'? These are your words, and your words alone, Margie. This is how Margie Bonouchi actually thinks of her fellow residents. She made a huge mistake in letting this little gem slip out of her mouth. That ugly personality of Plainfields past that is currently being exemplified by her, is what many residents have worked hard to eliminate. We have chosen to judge people on their actions, not on their perceived 'class' or skin color. It is embarrassing that she holds any sort of public position while holding this attitude.
Ron November 28, 2012 at 12:47 AM
I never knew there was a lesser end of town until now or that it was somehow based on square footage. But now I know what some people think of those who don't live in nice homes. It's good to see developers moving towards apartments and townhomes. A good start is the development at 127th Street east of 59. Multi-family housing will help jump start the housing market and provide additional revenues through taxes. This Village Board still needs to attract commercial development to Plainfield. What has the Village Board done to attract businesses?
concernedresident November 28, 2012 at 01:37 PM
I don't know where they are getting their information about what is in demand but how about these numbers: Right now there are 284 single family homes on the market and 92 attached homes (townhomes/duplexes) available. In the past year 296 attached homes have sold, in the past 3 MONTHS(thats right 3 months) 282 single family have sold!So where is this "Non traditional change" occurring? People are still buying single family just not the 3000+ square foot single family. The village should still follow the traditional single family development without jamming 2 homes on one lot or building more hideous apartment complexes and then have the school district issue more tax breaks. The residents of Plainfield are the Ozzie and Harriet generation, we all want our picket fences! Be more concerned about BRINGING IN MORE BUSINESSES! Let the businesses help relieve some of our tax burden and help develop the village. I don't want to be surrounded by towers of apartments or places like Riverside Towns. I want to live with my picket fence and go shopping at the local mall or dine at the restaurant down the street. There should not be a North and South rather one great community!
k.free87 November 28, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Now lets make it affordable and not $1,500+ so people with lower paying jobs can afford to live in a nice town...without having to live in the slums...lets see that happen.
Conservative November 28, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Well Mr. Lamb, we moved to Plainfield because of the low-density housing with open spaces. If I wanted low-income housing and apartments I'd move to the city of Chicago. The "Master Plan" is exactly that it shouldn't change because a few trustees decide that the previous idea of clean, open spaced areas needs to change for their interests. This is not the community I moved to 10 years ago, and I'll find and support candidates who are against this. I love how we've got liberals that talk about open space and lots of trees, but then they want concrete parking lots and tons of people crammed into our already crowded roadways. This plan is garbage and I'll be fighting against it.
Olddeegee November 28, 2012 at 05:52 PM
As a resident for almost 60 years I submit that people such as yourself are the problem. We had a great town until people began pouring in after the tornado. Also, your whining is incessant and self-serving. Plainfield has long had a tradition of apartments and multi-family living. Oddly enough, the best way for us to get back to the 1950s that you desire would be for you to leave.
Ron November 28, 2012 at 06:02 PM
I never moved here because of the 'low-density' space. No one ever made mention of low-income housing except you. Not all apartments and townhomes are low-income. It's sad that you have such negative feelings against those who choose other housing options. The Republican makeup of the Village Board decided they needed to purchase Baci, renovate it, and give grants to them to have it just sit on the market as an attempt to block another purchaser from making this transaction happen. I didn't expect to move into the Village realizing there were some Board members that have such a self-serving agenda.
Tim November 28, 2012 at 06:08 PM
"Paul Fay and Garrett Peck were absent from Monday night's Committee of the Whole meeting" What a surprise, Garrett Peck is missing in action, AGAIN. I guess he figured it is easier to just not show up now, instead of constantly abstaining from votes. Might as well save himself the trip, and do something else. He lost the election, so now is showing his 'true colors'. He doesn't care one bit about 'serving the people' as so many have claimed.
MeMe November 28, 2012 at 06:24 PM
I think its a great idea. It doesn't mean because we bring a mixed developed site to the south side its a bad thing. Our economy has changed and this would be great for all types of families. Its would create jobs for the economy. Its all about keeping these communities up for the next generation. Just because your not wealthy does not mean your going to bring down the neighborhood. It about bringing people together. Look at all the forclosure home all over the place people are buying large home for the price people would pay to live at this development.
MeMe November 28, 2012 at 06:35 PM
We should also offer grants to small business to get more businesses on the southside of plainfield. We do need more businesses let's not be picky.
Lisa S. November 28, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Rather than speculate on what will maybe happen if we bring 'affordable' high denisty apartments, townhomes , and manor homes to Plainfield why don't we take a look at how well that plan worked for communites like Naperville, Bolingbrook, and Woodridge. It didn't- unless you want higher crime, more drain on the schools, and the need for additional service personel (fire, police, etc.) without the additional tax dollars to support it. There were 283 detached single family homes that sold in Plainfield in the last 3 months, and 86 attached. These numbers include all Plainfield zip codes (including incorporated Joilet 60586). Plenty of 'low income' housing available and sales, and still plenty of inventory left. This plan is not needed.
Miguel Sanchez November 28, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Affordable is relative. Why not Section 8 housing? Why not homeless shelters? What defines a slum? Who lives in a slum? Is Plainfield a slum?
concernedresident November 28, 2012 at 09:16 PM
How is building these units going to create jobs for Plainfield? I guarantee if you ask the workers at 127th and 59 where they live none of them are from Plainfield. What brings jobs is bringing in new business. I found another failed Plainfield business as i went to Staples and found that their doors are closed! The PCC had better start helping local businesses and the village trustees should be backing them 100%. And as to apartments helping our tax base, what about the tax break the school district issued the new development on 127th? The residents there aren't paying a penny towards our schools and the developer is getting a huge break. Eyes Wide Shut Plainfield!
Denise Williams November 28, 2012 at 09:47 PM
What is the name of the company/partnership Tom Small represents?
brian November 28, 2012 at 10:14 PM
At least if you need your oil changed, you have no less than 4 choices at 59 and 135th..... Some here need to be careful in their desire for more businesses, it seems the trustees can't get that right either. Just granting permits and plunking down any business is not smart. No way all 4 of the oil change locations at one corner will all make it. They have been set up to fail.
PlainfieldRes November 28, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Good question. Additionally, I'm curious on why a developer was there at all. I would think the Comprehensive Plan would be the Village Officials/Staff vision for the community and then lead to courting by the Village of Developers, Businesses, etc. to meet that vision. Not the other way around.
MeMe November 28, 2012 at 10:26 PM
I do highly agree we do need more businesses. There needs to be some restriction in having businesses that do the same line with in so many miles. But at the same time building is good. You ask why? More local jobs meaning teachers, construction jobs, police offers, etc. Takes breaks need to be limited to these developers when they do build I agree.
MeMe November 28, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Tax breaks
Denise Williams November 28, 2012 at 10:58 PM
No, no and he'll no to tax 'breaks' for a developer. When a developer of high density housing goes for a tax break, it is in the for of a tax credit. In exchange, they are then required to offer a percentage, 30% or more, of that development as low income, meaning Section 8. Does anyone remember the joke of the Presidential Towers in Chicago? Beautiful apartments/condos, going at upwards of $1,600 per month to rent, over $160,000 to buy, then imagine the surprise of all those who bought when the found out over 30% of their neighbors were Section 8. That property struggled with nearly 40% vacancy for years, a struggle that continues today.
Tim November 28, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Well, it turns out when you actually DO look at how well that worked out for Naperville, its better than Plainfield is currently. Even if what you say is true(which it is not), the WORST thing that would happen is Plainfield would still have more crime than Naperville, just like now. Here is the total crime rate for Naperville; http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-Naperville-Illinois.html Here is the total crime rate for Plainfield; http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-Plainfield-Illinois.html For the last year that direct comparisons can be made(2003), the total crime rate was HIGHER in Plainfield, than Naperville(145 vs. 104). And this was 10 years ago, before the recent (and building) crime wave hit Plainfield. Not even a few weeks ago, a man who lived in a single-family house attempted to carjack and kidnap a woman who lived in a townhome. In case you haven't noticed, that is exactly the opposite of what you claim will happen, and it is already happening. And where did that woman live who killed her son, and her friends son? That's right, in a single family house. You need to let go of your ingrained prejudices. That is the old Plainfield attitude, and it is unfortunate to see remnants of it still linger into the 21st century. In fact, I can say for certain that you have a lower net-worth than I do. Should I have tried to 'keep you out' based on that alone? I highly doubt that you would accept someone judging you on the same standards you use.
RB November 28, 2012 at 11:08 PM
All focus should be in bringing new business to Plainfield. for me, it makes more sense to give a tax break to a new business, that creates new jobs and bring more money to local economy than to new housing developments that create more demands for services.
Billy November 29, 2012 at 12:11 AM
TIM, your wrong. Both the offender and victim lived in single family homes........
Tim November 29, 2012 at 12:21 AM
Way to notice Billy! Now, lets get a ban on all single-family homes, since they obviously attract crime. Or we could, you know, be rational.
RealAndrewJones November 29, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Yes - businesses that employ more than the owner a couple of bored housewives, like the ovnes that line Lockport Street. Manufacturing/light industrial, distribution, warehousing, etc - it did wonders for Romeoville, Minooka, Bolingbrook. Added to that we need more CHAIN resrtaurants. I personally do not frequent them, but enough people do that the added sales tax revenue would be wlecome. As for the increase in crime - once the low-income, high-density housing in Chicago was eliminated, those displaced residents mmoved on to the next-cheapest area - economically depressed Will County and all of its foreclosures, short sales and rentals single-family residences. The criminal element that was once in the city is now taking root out here. Aregue it all you want - it's true. And that's not racist - it's fact.
Tina November 29, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Maybe he was removing his signs.....oh no...they are still everywhere!
Kevin S November 30, 2012 at 12:29 AM
“This reminds me of Lakewood Falls and that’s not what I envision for the future of the community,” Rippy added. Exactly! Worst. Plan. Ever.

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