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Crown Development withdraws rezoning request

SUGAR GROVE – Crown Community Development withdrew its petition to rezone the 760 acres at the intersection of I-88 and Route 47, citing the widespread public opposition as the reason, according to the Village of Sugar Grove website.

The land is zoned residential and Crown wanted it rezoned multi-use that would permit other uses, such as commercial or warehouse. Crown did not indicate any other plans for the property.

The Sugar Grove Planning Commission canceled a Feb. 13 public hearing and the Village Board will cancel a Feb. 21 public hearing on the annexation agreement amendment, according to the village's website.

The village will continue to work with the Illinois Toll Highway and Illinois Department of Transportation on completing the I-88 and Sugar Grove Parkway interchange.

In an email, Village President Sean Michels said that the withdrawal was Crown's decision and not the village's.

"We will wait to see what Crown does with the property," he said in the email.

All of this comes less than a week after Michael Coghlan, an attorney representing residents opposed to the 760-acre Crown development in Sugar Grove, said the inadequacy of the village advisory report on the proposed project and the exclusion of the community from contributing to the document are unconstitutional.

Coghlan addressed the village planning commission and zoning board Feb. 6 during a public hearing at Waubonsee Community College. It was the continued hearing’s third session about Crown’s request for special zoning for the land it owns at the I-88 and IL-47 interchange.

Crown had asked the village to approve a Planned Development District (PDD), which would have provided flexible, mixed-use zoning for the entire property and allowed an extended buildout period of possibly more than a decade.

Under the PDD, the development could've included warehouses, manufacturers, hotels, gas stations and multi-family housing, among other uses of the land, based on market demand.

An advisory report was the main source of information for residents and the Zoning Board regarding the Crown proposal. The report was prepared by village staff in conjunction with Crown representatives.

Coghlan said the report doesn’t provide adequate evidence and information about the Crown development. He said the document is “capricious” and its absence of factual information makes it unconstitutional.

Hired by many of the hundreds of residents attending the three public meeting sessions in the past month, Coghlan said community members, who are “stakeholders,” should have had input into the advisory report. He said zoning decisions are subject to due process, citing the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Coghlan said Crown’s plan didn’t adhere to certain village zoning ordinance standards such as the requirement that new developments must promote the health, safety and well-being of the community. Residents applauded.

The language in the advisory report “speaks clearly of this being a done deal,” which concerns his clients, he said.

Coghlan added another zoning ordinance standard not met by the proposed development is that new developments must be in keeping with the established character of the adjacent area. Residents applauded again.

The village’s advisory report states that the planned single-family residential portion is in keeping with the character of the adjacent area. However, with PDD Crown could have eliminated its plan for single-family homes on the project’s south side and build warehouses and distribution centers there if it determined that use of the land is the most marketable one.

The Crown property -- generally bounded by Seavey Road on the north, Il-47 on the West, Merrill Road on the south and I-88 on the east -- is zoned for estate residential and farming.

Attendees at the Feb. 6 hearing were allowed to ask questions of Crown representatives and village officials for the first time.

“You have the right to ask questions, but you can’t ask any question under the sun,” Village Attorney Steve Andersson said.

Sugar Grove resident Fred Morelli asked Crown representatives why their marketing brochure incorrectly states that Crown property in the village already is zoned for warehouses.

“I don’t know,” Crown’s vice president of engineering and construction Dan Olsem said.

Morelli also asked who the project investors were other than Crown Community Development.

“I don’t know,” Olsem said.

Morelli asked how long it would take for Olsem to provide the names of the investors.

“I don’t know,” Olsem said. “I don’t know if it’s available for public consumption.”

Bill Klish, of Sugar Grove, asked whether a study of the economic impact to the village from the development was finished yet. Village officials authorized the study last August and said it would take less than two months to complete.

“No,” village development director Walter Magdziarz said. “There is a draft we are working on with the consultant and we hope it will be concluded soon.”

“I would hope that data would be available before the village makes a decision on this,” Klish responded.

The economic impact study is a tool that can assess the merit of a tax increment financing district (TIF), which Crown wanted the village to create to subsidize the now-defunct development proposal.

Another study – a traffic report -- was included in the village’s advisory report to the zoning board but still is in draft form.  Crown conducted the study last summer, when less traffic is present than when schools are in session. As a result, many residents believed the study doesn’t reflect typical traffic conditions accurately.

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