ST. CHARLES – Minutes after hearing public accusations of not taking residents’ concerns seriously, the Planning and Development Committee on Monday unanimously denied a proposal for an apartment complex on the city’s far west side.
The latest plans from JCF Real Estate called for 231 high-end residential units – down from 317 – in the Corporate Reserve development north of West Main Street and east of Peck Road. The property is currently zoned for offices.
Both 3rd Ward aldermen spoke against the project proposed for their ward.
“Patience is something I’m willing to do,” Bill Turner said.
But, he added, the property can’t be left vacant forever.
Ray Rogina said aldermen would be amiss if they didn’t give ample consideration to the residents. He noted he heard enough from those in nearby Remington Glen and Renaux Manor.
According to city records, 63 people had signed a petition against the proposal by Thursday. Committee Chairman Cliff Carrignan on Monday also held up additional pages containing 19 signatures.
Residents, however, felt their opinions weren’t taken seriously.
Reading from a prepared statement, resident Kim Malay told the committee that citizens have tracked the proceedings for years. They have taken time to circulate petitions and research the issues, but they felt the city minimized those efforts, she said.
“How many is enough before we are taken seriously?” Malay said. “We ask as our representatives that we elected to please do what is best for the community now and for the future.”
Second Ward Alderwoman Rita Payleitner acknowledged rumors and misinformation circulating about the project.
“It puts a taint on the signatures here,” she said.
Resident Vanessa Bell-LaSota said it is dangerous to assume why someone signed a petition.
“When a resident signs a [petition], I believe they take it quite seriously,” Bell-LaSota said. “I just don’t want the doubts to cast a pall on the energy of so many.”
Orazio Difruscolo – who recently sent Mayor Don DeWitte, aldermen and city officials an email about the rumors – said he did it to get the truth.
“I’m tired of all these rumors,” he said. “I want the truth.”
Fifth Ward Alderwoman Maureen Lewis said she supported the 3rd Ward representatives.
There is “overwhelming evidence that this project is not necessarily what residents of the city are looking for,” she said.