Plainfield seals fate of Sanctuary

Madhu Mayer-news@thetimesweekly.com | 8/28/2019, 10:40 p.m.
Grappling with too many uncertainties, the Plainfield Village Board will allow a banquet hall to operate in downtown with a ...

Grappling with too many uncertainties, the Plainfield Village Board will allow a banquet hall to operate in downtown with a stipulation the temporary special use permit will be reviewed at the end of the year. Last month, the Plainfield Village Board suggested the owners of a proposed banquet facility at 24216 W. Lockport St. in Plainfield continue working with staff to come up with an appropriate plan that will make it easier for people to attend weddings and special events in downtown. Minorthreat Restaurant Group is in the process of opening the Sanctuary Plainfield toward the west end of the Trolley Barn for a special event/banquet facility. The Trolley Barn was renovated in 2017. For a given event, Yuchen Ding, associate planner, expects the number of banquet attendees to be about 200, which, he said, will cause parking challenges. But the applicant has submitted a parking management plan with agreements for off-street parking at Larry's Diner and also utilize the public spaces at Electric Park. Shuttle bus and valet services would facilitate getting patrons to and from the remote parking locations.

While staff believes the parking management plan could effectively address the parking issue, Ding fears some patrons may choose to park in the public lot in the downtown area, which is always congested. This was a challenge that also worried the village board on Monday. "I am not ready to approve this without a backup plan," said village trustee Cally Larson, who asked what would happen if guests could not utilize the off-site parking spaces for one reason or another. But attorney John Argoudelis, representing the applicants, said his clients are not relying on public parking for their customers. He said guests would be encouraged to take the shuttle service and not use public parking spots in downtown. He also reassured the board that his clients are working on another remote site for parking that is close to the banquet hall.

Trustee Margie Bonuchi, who was the only elected official to vote against the banquet hall, said having a plan does not necessarily mean the guests will adhere to it. "There is no way they can manage the guests," she said. "People are going to do what they want." Prior to the vote, trustee Larry Newton said the village is not against the banquet facility. "We want you to succeed, but we have to keep the village interest in mind," he said. Jonathan Proulx, director of planning for the village, said staff will continue working with the applicants on parking logistics, especially on how do you shuttle people to special events when not everyone arrives and leaves at the same time. If someone does want to leave early, Argoudelis said the guests could walk to the off-site parking location or take a ride-sharing service. Mayor Michael Collins said the village will review how the parking situation went by the end of this year prior to the business license renewal process. The village normally issues business licenses in spring.