GENEVA – Despite continued opposition from neighbors, the Kane County Board on July 12 approved a zoning petition for the religious organization that has a long-range plan for the former Broadview Academy property in Blackberry Township.
“I see no reason to vote against this,” Kurt Kojzarek, R-Gilberts, said.
The Mata Amritanandayami Center – or M.A. Center – needed board approval to amend the site’s existing special use to proceed with its long-range plan. It includes adding 72 single-family homes constructed in groups of two to six attached units and 192 temporary residential units within three buildings at 41W501 Keslinger Road near Elburn.
Peter Storm, an attorney representing three adjacent property owners, urged the board to send the matter back to the Zoning Board of Appeals. He outlined concerns relating to the parking and its effects on the Blackberry Creek watershed, as well as allowing multi-family residences in a farming district.
He described the M.A. Center’s plans as a “major redevelopment” on the level of a “major subdivision or small village.”
Board member Phil Lewis – who voted against the petition – said his position didn’t reflect his feelings toward the M.A. Center itself, an organization he called a “quality outfit.”
Rather, he said, his position considered the county’s commitment to – and investment in – preserving open spaces.
“I believe a vote to establish high-intensity activity in the midst of that rural space is in conflict with the vision of our community and the investment that has been made,” Lewis said.
Kojzarek said the temporary residential units replace structures that previously existed. He argued the boarding school had a larger intensity because the students were there for a school year, whereas the M.A. Center will attract a more transient population.
Charles Radovich, an attorney representing the M.A. Center, read a statement from the organization’s leadership that indicated it will create an internal policy that discourages stays beyond six months in the temporary lodging units and will discourage families with children from placing children in Kaneland School District 302.