Village trustees renew Elburn Station development discussion
by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn Village Board members on Monday renewed discussions regarding the Elburn Station development.
Village trustees identified their main sticking points with ShoDeen and the development plan. They discussed ways to address concerns that include the density of the development, the ratio of rental units to overall housing, inadequate developer funding toward construction of a footbridge and concerns about the financial viability of the developer.
Although the village still has additional information to gather, its goal is to go back to ShoDeen principal Dave Patzelt with recommendations.
Trustee Ethan Hastert started out the conversation, as he had been the one to suggest they come back to discuss their concerns and how best to deal with them.
“ShoDeen owns that property,” Hastert said. “It makes sense for the village to get the best possible development out of the developer.”
Hastert said he thought there should be a published number of average rental units for a town the size of Elburn, and asked village staff to do the research on the topic.
The current plan for the Elburn Station calls for 800 rental units, many of which had been initially designated as condominiums. This number would create a ratio of 36 percent rental units within the development. The village is currently 84.5 percent owner-occupied and 15.4 percent rental units.
Trustee Bill Grabarek said that he still had concerns about ShoDeen’s financial health, referring back to the company’s loan default on the Tanna Farms Golf Course.
Although Village President Dave Anderson said that the bankers would make that call by deciding whether or not to bond the developer, other trustees were not satisfied with that solution.
Trustee Jeff Walter said he did not want to go through another four-year process to get the promised improvements completed. Four years is how long it took to obtain a response from the bankers holding the bonds on the Blackberry Creek Subdivision regarding improvements left undone by B&B. Elburn has yet to receive that money.
Other trustees suggested that they might place some restrictions on the developers to keep them from starting another phase of the development until the current phase requirements are completed.
“Maybe we can require that the improvements are done, such as roads finished, infrastructure completed, before more units are built,” trustee Ken Anderson said.
Grabarek said he would be happier if some of the rental units were designated as senior housing. He said he would like to see a variety of housing options that would be appropriate for the entire lifetime of a resident “from cradle to grave.”
Although most of the discussion centered around board members’ concerns about the plan, trustee Jerry Schmidt had a different perspective on the matter.
“I have a different mindset than you,” he said. “We need that bridge. The hours that are wasted out here on Route 47 (waiting for a train); we’ve got to get Elburn jump-started.”
The Anderson Road extension and bridge has been tied to the Elburn Station development, with ShoDeen the owner of the property needed for the right-of-way. The extension would be a 2-mile bypass road, around Route 47 through Elburn, that would extend Anderson Road from Keslinger Road to Route 38 and provide a bridge over the railroad tracks.
Approximately $18 million in federal funding was set aside in a 2005 transportation bill to build the bridge, and Kane County officials made building the bridge a priority for the region, providing $3 million of the funding, as well. The Elburn Village Board in October decided to table the vote on Shodeen’s development until the bridge is built.
Schmidt said he wondered how long the federal dollars set aside for the Anderson Road and bridge construction would still be there. Village president Dave Anderson said he would ask someone from the Kane County Transportation Department to come out and give them some input.
The discussion will continue at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, Jan. 14. Anderson said the earliest the board could vote on its recommendations would be at the board meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22.