500+ CONCERNED RESIDENTS ATTEND REZONING PUBLIC HEARING CONTINUATION
More than 500 residents were in attendance at last evening's public hearing held at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove on Wednesday night (Jan 23). Many residents are in opposition of the zoning change for 760+ acres surrounding the soon-to-be reconstructed I-88 interchange, allowing for both eastbound and westbound traffic.
Crown Properties is requesting the change from E-1 Estate Residential zoning on the 760+ acres that they have purchased through the years to PDD (Planned Development District) for their proposed 8 million square foot warehouse development. They plan to build 60+ foot massive-scale Amazon-like distribution centers (12 are appearing in the proposed development rendering). The property is projected to bring close to 2,000 semi trucks daily to the area with 24 hour operations, changing the landscape of Sugar Grove.
Residents gave testimony to the negative impact that this development would have on the communities of Sugar Grove and Elburn's Blackberry Township, as well as surrounding areas. Testimony was given on the environmental, health and safety concerns that a project of this magnitude would inflict upon the community.
Dr. Sakina Bajowala, Director of Kaneland Allergy & Asthma Center in North Aurora and also a Sugar Grove mom of two, gave an informative testimony on the negative health impact that close to 2,000 semi trucks would have on the residents of the community– both short-term and long-term. Additionally, she challenged the developer's trucking estimate by sharing comparisons to actual warehouse facilities in the areas of trucking and logistics proving a vast underestimation, further stating how Crown is not experienced in this area of development.
One of her slides titled "Given What We Know....Why Here? Why Now?" gained much applause by those in attendance, as it shared this quote taken from Union of Concerned Scientists website (ucsusa.org):
"Warehousing developers search for locations with low land rent, low-wage labor pool, weak political power, and favorable public policies. Economic, socioplotical and institutional factors are equally important in the dynamics. When local authorities area indifferent about warehousing development, minority residents may not be able to resist this spacial inequity, or unequal spatial distribution of warehouses."
Dr. Bajowala emphasized that as a certified member of the American Board of Allergy & Immunology, it is her duty to advocate for the safety of the community and shared many statistics on the harmful impacts that developments like these have on residents living in close proximity. She closed her presentation by asking Crown to "Please go back to the drawing board and come back with a proposal that honors the health and vitality of our community".
Ryan Walter, a Sugar Grove father of three residing in Hanneford Farms adjacent to Crown's property, spoke of Crown's request for a TIF. He shared with the Planning Commission that Hannaford Farm residents had a meeting with Daniel Olsem from Crown on the Monday before the first public hearing. In this meeting, Walter shared that Olsem stated very clearly that this property will need to be a TIF district if approved. However, Olsem did not disclose this fact in his public hearing proposal last Wednesday.
Walter went on to emphasize that this means any tax revenues that would have been generated by this development will not be paid to the Village of Sugar Grove. Instead, Crown would get to reinvest the taxes they would have paid into their development. He explained that because this TIF could be in place for up to 23 years, the residents will have no tax benefits from this development during that time period. The school district, police and fire departments would all suffer and residents will most likely have higher property taxes due to all of the affects this development will have on the community.
He also shared that upon visiting Crown's website visitors are greeted with a marketing message that is very different than what is being proposed for Sugar Grove – "Creating Memorable Communities Masterfully". The site also promotes the phrases "thoughtful land planning", "environmentally sensitive communities", "extraordinary land positions" and more, which Walter emphasized is true to the properties they specialize in, but not this warehousing district they are proposing and urged Crown to rethink the use for this land by remaining with E-1 Estate Residential zoning. Many in the audience felt that Ryan Walter's testimony was very compelling, as it spoke to the truths behind exactly what this project could mean for the community.
Anthony Basile, a successful developer of Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) in prominent areas of Michigan and the owner of 120+ acres off of Green Road in Elburn just North of the I-88 interchange, spoke of his plans to build a beautiful, upscale equestrian living community on his land consisting of 4-5 acre residential lots with pathways intertwined for residents to enjoy their horses. Prior to learning about this proposed zoning change, Basile had met with Kane County to discuss moving forward with this plan. Basile shared that should this proposed development be built by Crown, this plan will not happen.
He also spoke of the countless development projects he's brought to fruition, including many lifestyle communities, indicating that he and his team have always worked closely with each village, including residents, to ensure his developments were aligned with the comprehensive plan and giving residents what they want in their town– from upscale restaurants to elegant senior living facilities. He emphasized that the way Crown and the Village of Sugar Grove have gone about this has been done in a very unfair manner.
Jim Huguelet, a Sugar Grove resident in the Lakes of Bliss Woods neighborhood, was direct in delivering precise facts and discrepancies regarding the project and asked many questions of Crown such as what are of the two companies interested in securing space at the proposed locations that Crown spoke of in last week's hearing and whether or not certain circumstances surrounding the positions held by some of the individuals involved in bringing this development to fruition pose a conflict of interest, among other questions.
More than 80 residents have signed up to share their opposing testimony. The next hearing will take place on Wednesday January 30, 2019 at the same location. The opposition committee, legally referred to as Woods Not Warehouses, LLC, consists of many local area volunteers. They urge Sugar Grove and Elburn residents to follow the facebook page I-88 Corridor Development for updates and petition signing dates & times, and to attend the next hearing at Waubonsee Community College, APC Event Center on January 30, 2019 at 7pm.
A rendering showing the massive scale warehouses in comparison to Sugar Grove subdivisions. 3 buildings equal the same size as one neighborhood.
An example of one of the twelve buildings that Crown is proposing to build along Route 47 in Sugar Grove.