Hammering it out

By on January 13, 2012

Following series of meetings, Elburn Planning Commission recommends approval of plan for Elburn Station Development
by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—In the final of three meetings that have been stopped due to time and the volume of remaining people with comments, the Planning Commission voted to recommend that the Village Board approve the preliminary plan for Elburn Station on Tuesday. The recommendation passed in a 6-1 vote, with Paul Molitor voting against the recommendation.

At public hearings in December and on Jan. 4, a number of residents spoke on issues small and large that related to the plan. Some, like Realtor Ron Rosecky, questioned the need for a development at all when so many existing homes go unsold or are in foreclosure. Others questioned specifics such as traffic lights and speed limits in the surrounding roadways. Those concerns that immediately impacted the plan itself were addressed by village staff and engineers, and their findings were brought back to the Planning Commission for consideration at Tuesday’s meeting. The Planning Commission approved the recommendation with the following conditions.

Emergency access road
into Still Meadow subdivision

At the request of residents of Still Meadow in unincorporated Kane County east of the proposed development, Sho-Deen agreed to do away with a plan for a through-street from Elburn Station into the subdivision. The Planning Commission came to a consensus that emergency access to the subdivision would be necessary in the likelihood of the fire station changing its location from downtown Elburn. They envision an access road similar to the one on the east end of Kansas Street that has a gate.

“It’s the testimony of the residents that struck me. I’m all for keeping the village of Elburn connected, but they are in Kane County,” Commissioner Susan Filek said.

Landscape buffer
Still Meadow residents also expressed concern that Elburn Station lots backing up to Still Meadow lots were incongruent in size. They pointed out that their one-acre country lots would be adjacent to quarter-acre city lots. They requested either a landscape buffer or larger lot sizes.

Sho-Deen changed the plan to provide a 30-foot easement off the rear property line of the lots that would be landscaped. The landscape would be maintained by the homeowner and would be part of the building requirement, according to Sho-Deen representative Dave Patzelt. Homeowners would not be able to build a structure on the easement, such as a shed or gazebo.

The commission discussed other issues, but ultimately left them as originally conceived.

Rental units
At the Jan. 4 meeting, Commissioners John Krukoff and Paul Molitor objected to the potential number of rental units in the plan. They argued that the plan does not specify the number of units that would be rental or those that would be for purchase, leaving the possibility that all the mixed-use area could all become rental.

“Is that number appropriate for a small rural town?” Commissioner John Krukoff asked.

Patzelt said that those decisions will be market-driven, based on how and when the economy recovers. He defended rental units as an up-scale trend with retiring baby-boomers who are downsizing. He also predicted many changes to the plan over the 23 to 30 years that it will take to develop the property.

“They (rental properties) will come incrementally. There will be lots of changes to the plan over the years. It’s a relationship (between the village and Sho-Deen),” Patzelt said. “We’ll see what the market brings.”

In the discussion on Tuesday, Krukoff acknowledged that the developer would have to have any of his decisions approved by the Village Board, and that therefore the village does have control over what goes in.

“It’s time to get this development going. I take the developer’s word that he’s not going to (put in hundreds of rental units). If he does, he’s going to have to come in and ask,” Krukoff said.

The timing of the phases of development was also discussed. When ground is broken, it is related to construction of the Anderson bridge by Kane County. Sho-Deen plans to start development from the south at Keslinger Road, northward. The only change to that plan would be if a big box-type of commercial development were to come in at the Route 38 end of Anderson Road.

The Elburn Station preliminary plan, called the Design Plan Guidelines, is available for perusal at the front desk of Village Hall.

Elburn Station facts
505.9 acres
2,275 residential units
176.3 acres of open space
22.5 acres of commercial use
17.75 acres of mixed use
9.66 acres of industrial use
The maximum density is
6.61 units per acre

The process
A development around the Metra station has been discussed by officials since the train station and coachyards were built in 2006. The concept plan for the development was approved by the Village Board in October 2010. In this phase of the process, the Planning Commission reviewed a preliminary plan and made a recommendation to the Village Board, who has the sole authority to vote and approve the plans. Discussion by the Village Board will begin at the Tuesday, Jan. 17, meeting.

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