Elburn Station vote set for March 18

By on March 1, 2013

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Negotiations on the Elburn Station development are down to the details, and a new date of Monday, March 18, has been set for a Village Board vote regarding the final agreement.

The board will meet on Monday, March 4, but trustee Jerry Schmidt will be absent.

The board came back on Monday with a few modifications to the agreements Village President Dave Anderson, ShoDeen developer Dave Patzelt and attorneys hammered out on Friday.

At trustee Jeff Walter’s suggestion, Village Attorney Bob Britz added the requirement that the single-family housing would be the first to be built.

“My fear is that the apartments will get built first, and apartments cost (the village) more than single-family housing,” Walter said.

Trustee Bill Grabarek said the pedestrian bridge will cost significantly more than the $900,000 estimate Patzelt used to determine his share of the cost, because in order to obtain grant money, it will need to be Americans with Disabilities Act-approved. Although several other trustees agreed with that assessment, Anderson said that was the number they had been using, and the board had agreed to it.

Grabarek also said he was still uncomfortable with sharing any grant money for the pedestrian bridge with the developer, but Anderson said that the way it was set up was a better deal than giving up the village’s share of the recapture fees from future developers, and the $200 per housing unit impact fee.

“I think, your way, the village loses,” Anderson said. “Any grant money over $900,000 goes to pay for the bridge. I’m on that bandwagon.”

Trustee Ethan Hastert said he agreed with Anderson.

“We share everything above $900,000. That’s a better deal,” he said.

Other board members went along with Grabarek’s suggestion of changing the requirement that the pedestrian bridge be finished within three years of completion of the commercial part of the development or the money would go back to ShoDeen. Grabarek said that he would be more comfortable with three years to obtain the contract for the bridge.

However, since the pedestrian bridge will link the new development to the current downtown area, board members said it was in everybody’s best interest to get the bridge built as soon as possible. Anderson and Kane County Board member Drew Frasz have each reached out to local legislators for assistance in obtaining funding for the bridge.

The final total number of housing units for the ShoDeen development around the Elburn train station is set at 2,215, a reduction of 60 from the most recent number of 2,275. The board set a limit on multi-family and/or rental units at 400, with up to an additional 200 allowed, as long those were targeted for residents 55 years and older. The plan will also include mixed use and commercial development.

The Village Board had tabled discussions on the development in October 2012, when several trustees said they were not happy with some parts of the plan. Construction on the Anderson Road bridge has also been on hold since then, as ShoDeen owns the land needed for the bridge’s right of way, and the annexation agreement for the Elburn Station is tied to ShoDeen’s negotiations with Kane County for the bridge.

Frasz, who attended the meeting, said that a few more weeks likely wouldn’t put the federal funding for the bridge in jeopardy.

“Weeks, no. Months, yes,” he said.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, Elburn resident Walter Geisler made a plea to the board to put the brakes on the approval process.

“I love Elburn. I just don’t want it to get out of control,” Geisler said. “It’s a massive project and we can’t even plow our streets. I’m afraid for my kids. They’ll be taxed out of living in Elburn.”

Geisler said that he wanted to bring back the idea of having a public referendum in which the residents could vote on whether or not they want the Elburn Station.

Anderson said he would be happy to have a referendum, but only if everyone who voted had read all of the documents that he and the board members have read. He pointed to the large pile of papers in front of him.

“You have to be educated to make an educated decision,” he said. “We’ll make our decision based on the facts. Everybody here (on the board) is a taxpayer. We were elected to make these decisions.”

Fred Houdek, the next citizen to speak said that he had a great deal of faith in the leaders of the village to make good decisions.

“Let’s get ‘er done,” Houdek said. “You’re down to getting your I’s dotted and your T’s crossed.”

Britz reminded the board that it needs a two-thirds vote, or a total of five board members, to approve the annexation agreement.

“I’ll be there, if they have to carry me here on a stretcher,” Schmidt said.