by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—With a village trustee absent again this week, the Elburn Village Board on Monday agreed to keep the Elburn Station public hearing open until all members are present. The board listened to comments from members of the public who lined up on both sides of the issue: whether to annex the Sho-Deen property that is being planned as the Elburn Station development.
Fred Houdak, a franchise business developer and former Chicago resident, spoke in favor of the development.
“I had two expectations when I moved here: one, that the Anderson Road bridge would be built, and two, that Elburn would be growing,” Houdak said. “My expectation was that Elburn was primed and ready to get growing. If you don’t move forward, you are moving backward. If you don’t move forward, you are dying. Let’s get ‘er done.”
Elburn residents Christina and Sean Joy pointed out the problems that Elburn’s Blackberry Creek development has.
“I have a problem with the empty lots. The foreclosures are growing by the day. Do we have enough room in the schools for all the kids that would be coming in? (We’re) inviting so many more people in that we can’t accommodate nicely,” Christina said.
“I’ve seen what happens when a community grows too fast,” Sean said. “I see (Sho-Deen) putting in streets and turning (the land) into an eyesore for 20 to 30 years.”
Houdak rebutted concerns that he hears expressed about the density of the development.
“Get out of Elburn and drive around in the suburbs. You will find areas that are pristine, townhouses with alleys that I would love to live in,” Houdak said. “Whether it’s apartments, condos or homes, you find (this is) the current way of developing – open area, open streets and open development. Chicago is coming out here. DeKalb and Sycamore are coming this way. We’re smack dab in the middle. I see Elburn as the golden spot in the Fox Valley.”
Others stated that they did not move to Elburn to see it become another St. Charles or Batavia. They came for the family orientation and close knit community, not to live in a commuter town.
“We don’t want to be a suburb,” Tanya Miller said. “I want the village and the board to understand that there’s more involved than Sho-Deen pushing and pushing that you need this bridge. We’ve gotten a long fine without it. I guess I’m frustrated and concerned that we’re making the decision off the bridge (coming in).”
Some objected to Houdak’s comments by asking, “Why did you move here?” and “Why do you want to change this town?”
Local realtor Ron Rosecky reiterated his concerns that there are still unresolved issues with the development, making it difficult to vote on what is still unknown. He also noted that Elburn business areas have many vacant stores.
“I feel like we’ve got a broken bone in downtown and we’re looking at a whiplash case over here (bringing in another development),” Rosecky said. “Going forward is not the best step if you’re not prepared. People from the east and west will come regardless whether we have a Sho-Deen development or not.”
The issue fresh on the minds of Elburn residents was brought up.
“Where on Earth are people going to park?” Bill Coglin asked. “I don’t see Sho-Deen buying the (Community Congregational Church’s) parking lot. That would sweeten the deal by saying, ‘Elburn, I’m not going to strangle you. I’m going to help you.’ Growth can be good, or it can clog you up.”
Houdak expressed his confidance that the economy would improve.
“I believe in America, and we’re going to work our way through this. It’s short-sighted to not do anything,” Houdak said.
A vote to close the hearing failed, 1-4, with Jerry Schmidt voting in favor of closing it. Once it’s closed, residents may speak during the public comments portion of the meeting, but their comments will not become part of the Elburn Station record.
The next opportunity to speak is Sept 4.
“This issue is not about us (the board),” Village President Dave Anderson said. “It’s about us (the community).We continue to look at the facts. Not one of us will make this decision based on innuendo or rumor. We don’t take it lightly.
“We’ve kept the hearing open since May. We want to hear what you have to say. Know that we have a vested interest here. We raised our families here. My grandkids go to school here. We may not always make decisions that are pleasing to all of you, but we make it based on the facts. We do listen.”