Central upgrades satisfy ZBA scrutiny
Last updated 2/26/2020 at 3:44pm | View PDF
Hinsdale Central’s voter-approved improvements took a step closer to reality last week after the Hinsdale Zoning Board of Appeals both granted and recommended variance requests from Hinsdale High School District 86.
At the Feb. 19 ZBA meeting, board members approved their final decisions to grant variances under their authority related to athletic field fencing and another to provide relief from height and screening requirements for the construction of two soccer field team shelters and a press box. Favorable recommendations for requests concerning parking lot reconfigurations and setback relief for the soccer structures were sent to the Hinsdale Village Board, which has jurisdiction over those provisions.
The ZBA members had voted 6-0 for each of the variances after a Jan. 15 public hearing. During the hearing, District 86 architect Nick Graal went through each request. Regarding parking, Graal said the district’s application to reduce the required on-site parking from 882 spaces to 583 actually represented an increase from the existing parking count of 560. And getting relief from having to incorporate a landscape island, open space buffer and loading space screening would allow the district to maximize capacity, he stressed.
“The existing parking facilities right now do not have landscape screening or islands in them currently,” he said. “We are trying to address the parking situation as best we can without taking up athletic fields or reducing the size of the additions.”
Resident John Ochoa, whose South Washington Street property backs up to the school parking lot along the east side of Grant, told commissioners he supports the variance requests but wants to ensure an adequate buffer separates the lot from homes.
“I’m glad to see the school district is proposing a solid fence,” said Ochoa, an architect serving on a District 86 committee to help advise the construction process. “I am interested in what kind of fence exactly, what the color will be, what the details look like.”
He also proposed that, with homeowner permission, landscaping be put on the residents’ side of the fence.
Protective netting for the JV baseball field at the northeast corner of Grant and 57th streets will help contain foul balls, and other chain-link fences requested will simply replace existing ones, Graal explained.
“These are really maintenance items, at the end of the day,” he said.
The soccer shelters and press box will be constructed with painted masonry with a metal roof, Graal told board members, matching the buildings constructed at the softball field several years ago.
Board member Gary Moberly expressed his support for variances, saying they meet all of the criteria, particularly the “no other remedy” standard.
“(Hinsdale Central) is a very tight facility. It’s landlocked. There’s limited opportunity for expansion,” he said.
Board member Kathryn Engel said the parking variance request was reasonable.
“As long as the faculty and staff has sufficient parking, it’s probably suitable,” Engel said.
Board Chairman Bob Neiman endorsed the 10-foot arbor vitae trees to be used to screen the soccer field structures from neighbors and echoed his colleagues’ overall support.
“I agree with the other board members that variation standards have been met for each of the five requests,” Neiman said.