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Elburn board at logjam over ShoDeen plan

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

ELBURN – A week after the vote that put the project on hold, Elburn’s elected officials appear no closer to resolving the impasse that has threatened the future of the Anderson Road bridge project.

Last week, the Elburn Village Board voted to set aside any further discussion on a proposed agreement that would have governed the development of Elburn Station, a large proposed housing development in the village.

The approval of such an agreement also would pave the way for the construction of the Anderson Road extension from Route 38, over the Union Pacific Railroad, to Keslinger Road. That road project has been sought for years by Elburn village officials and Kane County transportation planners as a means of reducing backups at the Route 47 railroad crossing in downtown Elburn.

To support the project, the county and the village secured $18 million from the federal and state governments.

Earlier this summer, the County Board approved agreements and purchase deals with a landholding company associated with Geneva-based developer ShoDeen for the land needed for the project. But ShoDeen president David Patzelt said the successful transfer of those lands from ShoDeen to the public domain depends on the approval of the Elburn Station annexation agreement with the village.

Patzelt said the annexation agreement must come first to allow the county and ShoDeen to properly plan intersections and infrastructure, such as sewer and water lines and stormwater detention, within the proposed Elburn Station.

“We shouldn’t plan this short-sighted, and then make mistakes that we have to come back later to fix,” Patzelt said.

Some Elburn trustees, however, see the matter differently.

The proposed development has proven controversial in the village, with trustees on the Village Board echoing the concerns of many in the community who worry Elburn Station will add too many apartments to the village’s housing stock.

“I always thought this project was too dense,” said Elburn Trustee Jeff Walter, who voted to postpone discussion on the agreement. “It’s too many houses on too small a piece of property.”

Some who voted against setting the agreement aside for the time being agreed the number of proposed “multi-family dwellings,” which include hundreds of possible apartments and owner-occupied condominiums, were too great.

“I am with many others, who would like to see fewer multi-family rentals,” said Elburn Trustee Ethan Hastert, who voted against postponement.

However, trustees disagree over what to do about it.

Walter and others on the board question why ShoDeen and Kane County cannot work on the Anderson Road project separately from the Elburn Station project. Walter said he believes the Anderson Road project should be disconnected from the annexation agreement before the Village Board acts on the Elburn Station project.

“I’m really not keen on being held hostage over this bride,” Walter said. “If [Kent] Shodeen wants to deal with the county, then he should deal with the county.”

Hastert, however, said he worries that the village could lose an opportunity to fix some of its pressing transportation needs, because delays in securing the land from ShoDeen for Anderson Road could prompt the withdrawal of the federal and state money.

Hastert said he believes now is the time to negotiate with the developer.

“We’re now at the place where the bridge and the money for it are at stake,” Hastert said. “And we have a developer at the table, there to have discussions and negotiate.

“Let’s do that.”

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