While the existing land use pattern, environmental constraints and location of community facilities largely establish the physical character of the community, it is the opinions and desires of community residents that determines the direction of Village government and the overall community image. To understand the views of community residents, two early steps were undertaken. First a series of key person interviews and focus group discussions were held to identify issues and concerns of a variety of community residents, business leaders and public officials. The second part of the public participation process was a community survey, sent to all community residents through the Village’s newsletter. The results of these community outreach efforts are described below.
Key person interviews and focus group discussions designed to identify issues facing the community were early steps in the comprehensive planning process. A wide variety of individuals and groups were interviewed including Village officials, representatives of other tax districts, long-time community residents, developers, realtors, and others familiar with Burr Ridge. The insights gained from these sessions provided background information on the community services and facilities provided by other local taxing districts and helped to guide the development of the community survey which was the primary means of community involvement in the first phase of the comprehensive planning process.
Over the last several decades, Burr Ridge has made a transition from a rural community to a bedroom community that has easy access to Chicago. The discussions with the focus groups and key people were directed toward identifying where there was consensus concerning community direction and where there were divergent opinions over future growth and development in Burr Ridge.
Why Burr Ridge?
In response to questions about why residents and businesses chose to locate in Burr Ridge, several common themes emerged. Burr Ridge provides a sense of privacy which is of primary importance to most residents and also a few businesses that want to maintain a low profile. Burr Ridge offers easy access to Chicago, a locational asset that is a major consideration for many of the businesses located in Burr Ridge, as well as residents. Burr Ridge is viewed as a prestigious address.
New Burr Ridge residents include corporate transferees and families moving up to a more affluent lifestyle. Residents, in general, are highly individualistic in Burr Ridge, community links between residents are most likely created through activities within each subdivision or activities involving children.
Discussions with individuals involved in various aspects of the real estate community indicates that Burr Ridge is a buyer’s market. There are a number of undeveloped lots in residential subdivisions. Price is an issue; not many families can afford Burr Ridge but those that can have a number of other options.
The features that best define the character of Burr Ridge include the village’s low density residential neighborhoods, open space, the wooded areas, and the topography. The sense that Burr Ridge possesses a “country” atmosphere appears to be derived from the large lot sizes, mature trees that line many of the village’s roads, and the lack of curbs gutters and sidewalks along the main streets.
There is a general feeling that Burr Ridge’s rural character won’t be compromised as long as decision makers continue to resist increased residential density. While the preservation of the community’s “rural character” is important, there also appears to be a general consensus that new subdivisions should include improved streets with curbs and gutters. Several people expressed the sentiment that it is time for Burr Ridge to make a transition from a growing suburb to a mature suburb that can focus on building a sense of community.
The poor appearance of the Frontage Roads that line the Interstate Route I-55 corridor was cited by several people as an issue that needs to be addressed. Appearance issues are of particular concern to image conscious business tenants who have chosen to locate in Burr Ridge because it is a prestigious address.
Planning and Development Issues
The major planning issues facing Burr Ridge revolve around the question about what kind of community Burr Ridge should be as it moves further from its origins as a collection of rural county subdivisions, toward a fully developed suburban community. While many residents have chosen Burr Ridge for the sense of privacy that it offers, others lament the lack of a town center or other community focal point. At least on the part of some residents, a sense of community is missing. Whatever is done, there seems to be at least some consensus, that change and limited commercial development is acceptable as long as it doesn’t bring in too much traffic from outside of the community.
The future of the Burr Ridge Corporate Park is probably the most serious economic issue facing Burr Ridge. While commercial and industrial land on the DuPage County side of the community is almost completely developed, considerable commercial property remains on the Cook County portion of Burr Ridge. The I-55 corridor is not perceived as an office corridor but is a prime location for distribution uses. However, office is the preferred land use for most of the remaining land in the Corporate Park, at least in part, because office uses tend to attract a controlled transient population that is not in Burr Ridge in the evenings or on weekends.
There was little consensus on the issue of pathways. Some people believe that sidewalks were out of character with the rural look of Burr Ridge. Other residents favored the installation of sidewalks and asphalt paths for safety reasons and to create a sense of community. The current practice of installing pathways on one side of the street in new subdivisions and along major streets has been established as the preferred alternative.
One of the impediments to establishing a clear community identity is the lack of a clear set of municipal boundaries. Especially along the major community arterials, the corporate boundaries are irregular and contribute to the uncoordinated appearance of many of these road segments. Several people stated that clear, consistent and recognizable municipal boundaries were needed. These individuals supported a proactive annexation policy as a means to this end.
In order to provide all Burr Ridge residents with an opportunity to provide input into the comprehensive planning process, a community survey was sent to all Burr Ridge residents in July, 1998. Responses were received from 630 of 3,236 (approximately 20%) households by the July 27, 1998 deadline. Approximately 33 additional responses were received after the deadline which could not be included in the tabulation of survey results discussed below.
Burr Ridge was characterized as a “low density suburban community.” The majority of the residents chose to live in Burr Ridge due to its physical character and proximity to Chicago and work. Most respondents were not in favor of a” town center” and preferred 20,000 square feet as the ideal lot size. The survey results are discussed below. Please note that each underlined text denotes a question on the survey.
Main Reasons for Choosing to Live in Burr Ridge: Physical characteristics of Burr Ridge and the proximity to Chicago and work were the predominant factors influencing this decision, receiving more than 50% of the total response.
Desirable Lot Size: 20,000 sq.ft. was the preferred lot size for 41% of the respondents. 20,000 sq.ft. lots were picked out by approximately half the respondents who had lived in Burr Ridge for more than 20 years. The newest residents (less than 2 years in Burr Ridge) rated 30,000 sq.ft. lots higher than other groups. Residents who had lived in the Village between 2 to 20 years chose 15,000 sq.ft. lots as their second preference.
Need for a Town Center: A majority (66%) of the respondents stated that the Village did not need a town center. Residents who had lived in the village for over 20 years were the only group slightly in favor of a town center. The survey showed that the more the children in a household the less the desire for a town center.
Physical Character of Burr Ridge: The majority of the respondents (60.5%) described Burr Ridge as a “low density suburban community.” The second most common (42.5%) characterization was as a “collection of subdivisions.”
Quality of Services and Amenities
The visual character of Burr Ridge as well as the quality of most of the services and amenities were ranked as either excellent or adequate by majority of the respondents. Access to shopping, restaurants and entertainment were the only amenities that were clearly inadequate and needed improvement Other areas that while adequate, could be improved, were parks and recreation programs, sewer and storm water maintenance, curb and gutter, and finally street and sidewalk maintenance. The results of the survey are as follows:
Visual Character: The visual character of Burr Ridge was described as excellent by a majority (42.4%) of the respondents. Over half of these respondents had lived in Burr Ridge for less than 5 years. Approximately 39% of the respondents, mostly those who had lived in the Village for over 10 years, said that the visual character was adequate.
Appearance of County Line Road: County Line Road’s appearance was considered adequate by more than half (53%) of the respondents.
Schools: The schools were ranked as either excellent or adequate by the majority (64%) of residents. However, only approximately half of these respondents had children. A quarter of the total respondents had no opinion about the school system, primarily because they had no children.
Police Protection, Fire Protection, Paramedic Services: The majority of the respondents considered these services as either excellent or adequate. However, approximately 15% of the residents had no opinion about fire protection, and 36% of the residents had no opinion on paramedic services.
Sanitary Sewer and Water, Storm Water Maintenance, Street Maintenance, Sidewalks, Curb and Gutters: These were considered adequate, but not excellent, by the majority of the respondents. A significant number of respondents felt that these services could be improved. Approximately 18% of the residents had no opinion regarding sidewalks or curb and gutters.
Open Space: The quality of open space was considered adequate by approximately 60% and excellent by 21% of the respondents.
Parks, Recreation Programs: The predominant opinion was that parks and recreation programs were adequate, but could be improved. Approximately 13% of the respondents had no opinion about parks, and 38% had no opinion about recreation programs. Most of these respondents did not have any children.
Day Care: The majority of the residents (74%) did not think that day care was an issue. It should be noted that of these residents, approximately 67% had no children.
Access to Shopping, Restaurants and Entertainment: The residents predominantly felt that the access to shopping, entertainment and restaurants was inadequate or needed improvement. It should be noted that a significant number of respondents felt that these facilities were adequate.
Medical Services, Professional Services, Social Services, Public Transportation: The majority of the respondents had no opinion on these items.
Residents were asked to express their opinions on a variety of issues which are likely to be addressed in the Comprehensive Plan. These issues can generally be grouped under the categories of community character, growth policies, office/commercial development, residential development and capital improvement policies. Highlights from the survey results are described below.
i) Community Character
Most residents felt strongly that Burr Ridge had a unique character that should be protected. They also felt that the County Line Road character should be preserved, and design guidelines should be established for new developments along major entryway corridors. There was not much consensus on whether Burr Ridge needed a central focal point, or had a strong community identity.
Protecting Community Character: 87% of the residents agree or strongly agree that the community character should be protected.
Community Character: The majority of the residents felt that Burr Ridge was an unique community. Most agreed that it could be characterized as a mix of country and city.
Community Identity: There was not much consensus on whether Burr Ridge had a strong sense of community identity.
Central Focal Point: Approximately 40% of the respondents felt that Burr Ridge needed a central focal point. However, the same number of residents had no opinion on this issue.
Design Guidelines: Most residents agreed or strongly agreed that design guidelines should be established for new development along major entryway corridors.
County Line Road Character: Most residents (70%) felt that preservation of the County Line Road character was an important issue.
There seemed to be the least amount of consensus on this issue. A majority of the residents did not think that Burr Ridge was developing too rapidly. However, half the respondents felt that the Village should play an active role in adopting policies to limit future residential growth. At the same time, further annexation of land south of German Church Road was considered desirable.
Growth: Majority of the respondents did not feel as though Burr Ridge was developing too rapidly. While half the respondents felt that Burr Ridge should adopt policies to limit future residential growth, another half either disagreed or were neutral on this issue. When this question was reframed (Q.44), most residents felt that the Village should play an active role in controlling the amount of growth in Burr Ridge.
Annexation: Most residents (40%) agreed or strongly agreed that the Village should annex land south of German-Church Road and east of County Line Road.
iii) Office/Commercial Development
There was no clear consensus on whether financial incentives should be provided to encourage development of additional offices and light industry. However, most residents felt that existing commercial development was inadequate and its development should be encouraged.
Corporate Park Development: More residents appeared to be in favor of, rather than against, providing economic incentives to encourage development in the Corporate Park located across from Village Hall. However, there does not appear to be a strong consensus on this issue.
Financial Incentives: While more residents supported providing financial incentives to attract additional offices and light industry, there was no strong consensus on this issue.
Adequacy of Commercial Development: Most of the residents felt that the amount of commercial development within Burr Ridge did not meet their day to day needs.
Commercial Development: Similarly the majority of the responded felt that Burr Ridge should encourage more commercial development.
iv) Residential Development
Preserving and protecting open space did not emerge as a major concern. Most respondents were also against providing more entry level housing and a diverse range of lot sizes.
Residential Development: Most of the respondents were against clustering residential development in order to preserve significant open space.
Most residents were against encouraging a diverse range of lot sizes.
Entry Level Housing: 66% of the residents disagreed or strongly disagreed that more entry level housing for young families should be provided.
House Sales: There was no consensus on the ease of selling a house in Burr Ridge.
Open Space: There was no clear consensus as to whether the residents are willing to pay more taxes to preserve and protect open space.
v) Capital Improvements
Most residents thought that curb and gutters were appropriate for residential development.
Curb and Gutter: A majority (62.5%) of the residents agreed or strongly agreed that curb and gutters should be made part of any improvement and development program. However, there was no strong consensus as to whether some subdivisions should be allowed streets without curb and gutter.
Sidewalks: There was no strong consensus on whether asphalt sidewalks instead of cement sidewalks were acceptable to the community.