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County official: Elburn Station ‘headed in the right direction’

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

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ELBURN – Two key Kane County officials were at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting in Elburn to push a message of urgency as Village Board members hammer out details for the proposed Elburn Station development.

County Board member Drew Frasz, R-Elburn, said he left feeling as if the process was “headed in the right direction.” Frasz and Tom Rickert, the deputy director of the Kane County Division of Transportation, listened as board members debated the issue for nearly two hours.

Board members said they would work on a list to present to developer ShoDeen about issues, including the percentage of multifamily units that could be built, and details such as the amount of money ShoDeen would contribute toward a planned pedestrian bridge.

Elburn Station is projected to bring about 2,200 homes into the village over 20 years in an area near the Metra station. And county officials are eager to get the go-ahead to begin construction of an extension of Anderson Road, including a bridge that would offer a crossing of the train tracks. That project would occur on land owned by ShoDeen.

The Village Board was poised to vote on the station plan last year but tabled the discussion. County officials such as Frasz had been concerned that funding for the bridge could be lost if the process went on for an extended period but he left Monday’s meeting encouraged.

“I think it’s great,” Frasz said after the meeting. “This is the way projects get done.”

Frasz said county officials “would love to move forward” on the bridge project, which could begin this year if officials get the green light. Frasz and Rickert attended to answer questions for board members and drive home a few points. Rickert said with the bridge, Anderson Road would become a Class 2 truck route, but didn’t think it would become a heavily traveled road.

Board member Jeff Walter brought up the possibility of using eminent domain powers to acquire the land, rather than working out details with ShoDeen.

Frasz said eminent domain would be a last-resort option because such a process could take years, costing the county millions in federal funding. Frasz said pursuing eminent domain “pretty much blows the deal up.”

Village Board members focused Monday on coming up with a percentage of multifamily units or mixed-use units, and at last week’s Village Board meeting, they appeared in agreement on a plan that wouldn’t allow the go-ahead for any new building plans until the previous phase would be nearly complete.

Trustees Jerry Schmidt and Bill Grabarek represent the opposite ends of the discussion. Schmidt pushed board members to come up with a proposal for ShoDeen, saying he didn’t see any reason they couldn’t do so before the meeting ended.

“It’s time to move,” Schmidt said. “We need rooftops here.”

Grabarek said that wouldn’t be done, but he said he was working toward a solution and was comfortable with parts of the plan.

“We don’t want cancerous growth,” Grabarek said. “It’s like our motto, ‘Better, not just bigger.’ ”

Trustees Ken Anderson and Ethan Hastert, who voted with Schmidt against tabling the issue last year, steered discussion toward coming up with a plan to bring back to ShoDeen. Anderson proposed a plan calling for the development to remain one-third single-family units, one-third mixed use and one-third multifamily.

Trustees David Gualdoni and Walter, who voted along with Grabarek to table the issue, guided those discussions. Village President Dave Anderson reminded trustees that, as a transit-oriented development, the plan is different than others that might come up in the village.

Elburn resident Ron Rosecky urged board members to negotiate carefully with ShoDeen, saying he admired trustees’ diligence, “but you are dealing with someone who is a very smart and very crafty builder.” Rosecky was among several residents in attendance.

The discussion is set to continue at Tuesday’s Village Board meeting.

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