ST. CHARLES – The concerns residents expressed about the Lexington Club housing development didn't fall on deaf ears, 1st Ward Alderman Jon Monken said.
He respects and understands the neighbors' opinions, and he gives them kudos for sharing their thoughts with the city. But as an alderman, he said, he weighed their concerns against what was best for St. Charles as a whole and voted to approve the development.
Lexington Club will clean up a blighted former industrial site, an area Monken said he believes needs to be cleaned up.
"For the city of the whole," he said, "I felt it was the right step to take."
Monken, along with 4th Ward Alderman Jim Martin, were among the five aldermen who Monday supported the Lexington Club project, which passed with Mayor Don DeWitte's tie-breaking vote.
Monken and Martin supported Lexington Club's plans in a committee vote in May, but last month they appeared ready to quash one component of the Lexington Club project. They were part of a 7-2 committee vote rejecting its tax increment financing funds.
Knowing St. Charles School District 303 and the St. Charles Park District were not opposed to the TIF was significant, Monken said. He and Martin also noted the developer's concessions in requested TIF money. In December, Martin disagreed with the developer's $6 million TIF request, which originally was closer to $5 million. The developer's latest request of $5.6 million was a reasonable compromise.
"That property has sat there deteriorating and is a dangerous property in my opinion and needs to be improved," Martin said.
Monken and Martin said the developer made other concessions, including a reduction in density and the promise to contribute $200,000 in improvements to the Seventh and Main street intersection.
While he's not in the position to speculate whether the city could have gotten a better deal had it held off longer, Martin said he believes St. Charles got a satisfactory deal.
"We got what I felt was a good deal for the city, and it's the right call," Martin said.
Residents expressed disappointment Monday over the vote, and some indicated the outcome will influence the spring elections. Of those who supported Lexington Club, Monken and 2nd Ward Alderman Cliff Carrignan are seeking re-election. Martin, who has been alderman since 1979, has said this term will be his last; it expires in 2015.
How they voted
History of Lexington Club votes
May 14: Planning and Development Committee votes on project plans
Ayes: Dan Stellato, Jon Monken, Rita Payleitner, Bill Turner, Jim Martin, Ed Bessner Nays: Jo Krieger, Maureen Lewis
Absent: Ray Rogina
Dec. 10: Planning and Development Committee votes on TIF
Ayes: Payleitner, Bessner Nays: Stellato, Monken, Turner, Rogina, Martin, Krieger, Lewis
Jan. 7: City Council votes on both components
Ayes: Monken, Cliff Carrignan, Payleitner, Martin, Bessner, Mayor Don DeWitte Nays: Stellato, Turner, Rogina, Krieger, Lewis