ST. CHARLES – As the Planning and Development Committee reviewed the proposed comprehensive plan Monday, aldermen were warned that their push to nix residential units from the former St. Charles Mall site could scare potential developers away.
“You would be shutting the door, I think,” said Devin Lavigne of Houseal Lavigne, a planning consultant engaged to assist with the plan.
Rita Tungare, the city’s director of community development, also cautioned aldermen, saying the removal of residential altogether limits the city’s flexibility with that 30-acre site at Randall Road and Route 38.
Aldermen – who also supported no residential on the Charlestowne Mall site – didn’t finish their discussion by press time but expressed strong opinions earlier, especially 4th Ward Alderman Jim Martin.
“I have some very serious concerns about any additional apartments in that area,” he said. “… I have some problems about what could happen if we didn’t assert ourselves with what we really wanted there.”
Mark Armstrong, chairman of the Comprehensive Plan Task Force, told the committee that removing all residential also would include senior housing and adaptable housing.
Fifth Ward Alderman Ed Bessner said future unknowns made him open to residential possibilities.
“I don’t want to see ourselves get handcuffed,” he said.
Aldermen noted that future City Councils always can change the comprehensive plan if they choose. Tungare said the city likely would get criticized for reacting to a developer. It is better for the council to establish a vision that includes flexibility instead of putting itself in a reactive role, she said.