Retouched Curtis Road plan OK'd

Retouched Curtis Road plan OK'd

CHAMPAIGN — A set of lowered development restrictions for the land surrounding the Curtis Road Interchange will go before the Champaign City Council next week after being approved by the city's plan commission on Wednesday.

The Curtis Road Interchange Area Master Plan is an update of a 2007 plan that required developments to be planned in at least 80-acre chunks in order to prevent piecemeal development in the area. Just after the completion of the earlier plan, the recession hit, development stalled and, eight years later, the area still hasn't taken off.

In order to drum up interest in the area — which will eventually include the Carle at the Fields development and is expected to have a host of other businesses, including retail and restaurants — city staff made changes to the plan, including:

— The reduction of the previous 80-acre planned development requirement — to 20 acres. (That's about the size of Village at the Crossing).

— A transportation plan that includes bus stops and bike and pedestrian paths.

— A map laying out appropriate future land uses for each of the quadrants surrounding the intersection.

— Higher development standards than other areas of the city.

— A requirement for public input sessions before the city council considers each planned development.

"This is an area of the city important to plan for appropriately to make sure we take full advantage of significant investment we made in this interchange," Planning Director Bruce Knight told the commission Wednesday.

Still, one landowner, developer Peter Creighton, raised concerns about the requirement for a berm between the Robeson Meadows West subdivision on top of the requirement for residential housing in the northern portion of his quadrant at the corner of Curtis and Duncan.

Pat Fitzgerald, Creighton's lawyer, said he couldn't think of anywhere else in the city that had such high requirements for developers.

He said Creighton understood the desire for a berm or a transitional residential area that included a lower-intensity use like senior housing, but he didn't think both were necessary.

Knight said that when the council heard the argument in April, members didn't direct the staff to make any changes.

"We considerably reduced (the requirements) from what the existing plan requires," Knight said. "The people who bought this land did so with no reasonable expectation that we were going to change this at all."

The plan will go before the council on Tuesday.