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Critics want Settler’s Hill woods protected

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012 5:30 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012 5:51 a.m. CST

ST. CHARLES – Critics of a plan to develop the area around Settler’s Hill voiced concerns Monday about how it will affect nearby Fabyan Woods

“I think we should save it for nature’s sake, not recreational amenities,” Geneva resident Sharon Jones said during a public hearing on the Fabyan Utilization Study.

Jones, along with several others in attendance, wore tags that said, “Save The Woods.”

Kane County Board member Mike Donahue, R-Geneva, chairman of the Fabyan Property Utilization subcommittee, said the plan was revised to “eliminate all proposed development” in Fabyan Woods, including moving a proposed music venue to Kirk Road.

In addition, the plan has been altered to remove mountain biking from the woods while creating a mountain bike trail system as part of the Settler’s Hill property.

But that didn’t alleviate everyone’s concerns.

“It’s a very unique place, these woods,” said Virginia Babcock of Batavia. “Once this is gone, it’s gone forever. Who are we to destroy Mother Nature’s best gifts to us.”

Others viewed the proposal as a job creator. Proposals for the site include trails for cross country running and mountain biking; a hilltop observatory; an 18-hole golf course; a winter recreation area, including an ice skating pond; and an outdoor music venue along Kirk Road. The plan also calls for a resort and convention center, among other amenities.

“It has something for everyone,” said Geneva Chamber of Commerce President Jean Gaines. “This is a way to bring jobs to Kane County.”

The subcommittee is set to approve the revised master plan at its meeting Wednesday.

Patrick Neary of the Geneva Economic Development Commission also spoke in favor of the plan.

“We believe there are strong economic benefits to the plan,” Neary said. “It will bring tourism dollars and is a strong catalyst for development in that area.”

Since 2011, a county task force – which includes members of the County Board, the cities of Geneva and Batavia and the Kane County Forest Preserve District – has worked to create a picture of what could lie ahead for the Fabyan Property, a more than 700-acre piece of land centered on Settler’s Hill and bordered by Route 38, Fabyan Parkway, Kirk Road and Route 25.

Settler’s Hill closed, and the jail and Kane County Sheriff’s Office moved to new facilities, prompting the creation of a master plan.

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