Wheaton College is requesting city approval to expand its student housing facilities, replace a playground at Wheaton Christian Grammar School and use the grammar school building for storage and special events.
Wheaton's zoning board held a hearing regarding the college's request July 31, which will continue tonight.
The college has requested a planned unit development (PUD) approval for extra storage, use of the former building at 530 E. Harrison Ave., the replacement of the grammar school playground, demolition of the residences at 821 and 825 N. Irving Ave, use of the residence at 739 N. Irving Ave. for student housing and use of the residences at 510 and 520 Sears Ln. for student housing, according to a city memo.
bought the former grammar school and the residences on Irving Avenue in 2009. The college is now proposing to reclassify the single-family residence at 739 Irving Ave. for student housing to accomodate no more than 10 students.
The residences at 510 and 520 Sears Ln. would also be reclassified for student housing buildings with a maximum of eight residents.
Bruce Koenigsberg, architect for Wheaton College, said at the July 31 meeting that while buying the grammar school may be evidence the college was expanding, Wheaton College administration and trustees have recently confirmed their intention not to expand its on-campus undergrad enrollment. The current undergrad enrollment is about 2,400 students, Koenigsberg said.
He said the college hosted a meeting for neighbors of the proposed projects in June, where neighbors voiced concerns about parking on Irving Avenue.
He added that per a neighbor suggestion, the college will try to reduce vehicle use on Sears Lane by adding an asphalt drive connection from the west lot at the grammar school that runs south to the Sears Lane turnaround.
Undergrads, typically juniors and seniors, according to the memo, would occupy the residences, according to the memo.
Justin Heth, associate dean of residence life at Wheaton College, told board members that Wheaton College commits to providing campus housing to all students, from their freshman to senior year.
He said the college believes that students' learning experiences are "greatly impacted" in the residence life program. He added that each residence has a house coordinator.
Wheaton resident Celia Kuick, who lives on Irving Avenue, said she has had issues with students living on her street. She said she would like contact information for someone who can address her concerns, including garbage students leave on the streets, and maintenance of the residences.
She said garbage sits outside for up to three weeks when students leave for vacations. "There is an issue of 'Who is watching these houses on the off-season?'," Kuick said.
According to a letter from Heth and Jim Johnson, Wheaton College director of facilities management, the college grounds department will tour student houses within two days after students leave for Christmas, spring and summer breaks, "to ensure that refuse containers are moved off the parkway." The grounds department will also remove newspapers and advertising flyers from the lawns, driveways and parkways.
The planning and zoning board will meet for a public hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday at , 303 W. Wesley St., Wheaton.