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Elburn Station vote won’t come soon

ELBURN – No vote will take place on the Elburn Station project until at least Oct. 15, and one village trustee Monday night expressed concerns about the “financial validity” of the builder.

Trustee Bill Grabarek urged fellow trustees to consider tabling the issue, saying he had concerns abut Geneva developer ShoDeen. Grabarek spoke about a foreclosure lawsuit the developer is facing in which Bank of America is seeking nearly $40 million.

“There could be a credible argument put out there to table everything … until we have information about the financial validity of the Elburn Station project,” Grabarek said.

ShoDeen is fighting that suit, and company president Dave Patzelt said there was no reason to question its financial condition.

“We’re continuing to run our business as we have the last 50 years,” said Patzelt, who pointed out the lawsuit was filed months ago. “We are continuing to build homes every day of the week.”

The plans for Elburn Station would bring more than 2,200 homes by ShoDeen, including more than 1,300 apartments, to the village over the next two decades. But the plans have been debated throughout the year, and potential target dates for votes have come and gone. Village President Dave Anderson has said because the issue is so important – it potentially could double the population of the village – he wants to be sure all trustees are present when the vote takes place.

Elburn Station was not on Monday’s agenda, even though all trustees were in attendance. Some trustees indicated there was an issue to resolve, but Patzelt said he thought the only holdup was that not all trustees had been at meetings over the last few months. In fact, the vote won’t happen on Oct. 1 because Grabarek won’t be there.

Patzelt said he has not, in his 20 years in the development business, seen a vote being put off for so many months. He suggested perhaps the village could call a special meeting to address the subject.

Grabarek made his comments at Monday’s meeting after Trustee Jeff Walter asked about Elburn Station, noting it was not on the agenda. Before moving on to the next agenda item, Grabarek offered his comments. The village’s boundary must be extended to annex the land, allowing ShoDeen to begin building. Grabarek said if the land were to be annexed into the village, it would reduce the village’s control over the land.

Reached Tuesday, Grabarek said it might be prudent to wait.

“Once you approve the annexation and it comes in, you no longer have meaningful control over it,” he said. “A developer, whoever it may be that owns it, can always run to the court if we don’t like modifications on the plan. A court could easily look favorably on that allegation and say, ‘You are right, developer. It’s clear you can’t make money as it’s presently designed, so you should be allowed to put in whatever the heck it might be.’ And I don’t know what it might be.”

Patzelt said the village wouldn’t be at risk if the land were annexed. ShoDeen has no intention of building out the project immediately.

“If right now all you are doing is approving zoning and a plan for the land, you are not approving the final engineering and not approving a shovel to be stuck in the ground and not approving the village to put in any money,” Patzel said.

Grabarek said he expects the subject to be an issue as the April municipal election nears. Candidates throughout the area have been declaring their intentions for the election, and in Elburn, the terms of Village President Dave Anderson and Trustees Ken Anderson, Jerry Schmidt and Jeff Walter will be up.

“It’s there already,” Grabarek said. “I’ve heard residents say this is an election issue.”

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