by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—After hearing a final comment and letter from supporters of the Elburn Station plan, the Elburn Village Board on Tuesday voted to close the public hearing that has been open since May.
Bill Grabarek was the sole trustee to vote against closing it.
Grabarek raised several issues with the development, the first in light of recent news that the Prairie Parkway project is on hold indefinitely and that a full interchange is in the works at Route 47 and I-88.
“Route 47 in the coming years will become a substantial truck route with a substantial amount of traffic over Anderson Road Bridge. We (the village) take over care of the bridge after one year. We haven’t looked at the costs of the care and maintanence,” Grabarek said. “It’s going to be a semi route, with trucks coming off I-88 to get up to I-90. They are going to be coming through town. We’re taking the (financial) load of all the truck traffic.”
Grabarek also pointed out a concern for the number of rental units proposed by Sho-Deen. He referenced the 2010 Census that showed a ratio of owner-occupied properties to renter-occupied properties as 10:1. He said the Sho-Deen ratio of owner to renter properties was closer to 1:1.
“As a matter of policy, as a matter of planning, we should consider more carefully the ratio of owner-occupied to renter-occupied units. We haven’t really talked about this, about what is our vision for Elburn and its growth. We need to look at development not just as rooftops, but as what we want to become in the future. Sho-Deen originally came in with mainly condos. Now that’s shifted to approximately half rental units. Our job here as elected officials is to look at what the village will be down the road,” Grabarek said.
He emphasized that the board should think about whether Elburn can absorb over 1,000 rental units. He asked the board not to approve any development until after the Anderson Bridge is built.
“Let’s slow down, let’s table it, let’s have the bridge built and then talk development. It’s our town, and we can’t just grab development in a precipitous way. (Elburn Station talks) have been percolating for years, and every year it’s changed. Now it’s to apartments and something lesser (than originally proposed). And we’re accepting something lesser. I can’t in good conscious do that,” Grabarek said. “Are we really producing something better, or just bigger?”
Trustee Jerry Schmidt expressed support of the annexation, saying that truck traffic can be controlled and that renters are not necessarily a problem.
“Things are changing. We need to figure out how can we attract young people to the village. I’ve been pro-growth since I moved out here,” Schmidt said.
Trustee Jeff Walter said that his opinion and understanding of the numbers has not changed since he voted against the project in a preliminary vote. He is concerned with the density of the housing and with the number of rental units.
Walter, however, disagreed with Grabarek and Village President Dave Anderson on whether the impact fees are adequate to provide the village with income to off-set development.
“Department heads (at Kaneland School District) put pencil to paper and came up with a number,” Walter said.
Grabarek calls the fee of $25 per unit ear-marked for the pedestrian and bike path “insignificant,” and that the village will end up coming up with the money to build the path or risk splitting the newer and older parts of town.
“How much are we biting off to get rooftops? How meaningful is the money we get from Sho-Deen? The question is, what’s in it for us?” Grabarek said.
“This board downgraded the (original impact fees), and that’s okay, but I think we’re cutting off our noses to spite our face,” Dave Anderson said.
Trustee Ken Anderson cited his work with Kane County as proving that the economy and the markets can change what is initially negotiated with developers.
“It’s not a static piece of paper that won’t change. We have to go by how can we do the best with the information we have,” Ken Anderson said.
A vote may be taken at the Sept. 17 meeting.
“Development is necessary We welcome new people, but also I don’t want to burden the existing community with new folks coming in. I want the bridge done for the existing residents and central Kane County,” Dave Anderson said. “We will make our decision on the best facts and information that we have at the time.”