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Hearing continued on controversial Sugar Grove development proposal

Crown seeks 'flexible' multi-use zoning for 760-acre property

Sugar Grove Municipal Center and Police Department
Sugar Grove Municipal Center and Police Department

About 300 residents attended a public hearing of the Sugar Grove Zoning Board Jan. 16, where Crown Community Development presented details about its proposed 760-acre multi-use development near the I-88 and IL-47 interchange.

Crown is seeking a zoning change for the property it owns directly north and south of I-88 at the interchange, which currently is zoned estate-residential.

For the site, the developer has proposed building 175 single-family homes, 300 apartments, and a business park whose uses could include commercial, hotel, warehouse, distribution and manufacturing. Crown asked the village to rezone the property to PDD, planned development district, which could provide flexibility for the company to develop areas of the site according to future market demand.

“We need to be flexible for other uses,” Crown vice president of engineering and construction Daniel Olsem said. “We need to be able to react quickly to the market.”

The village held the public hearing at Sugar Grove Public Library, which has a larger meeting room than Village Hall. However, the seating couldn’t accommodate all the people attending, many of whom had to stand in the room or the hallway.

After a lengthy presentation from Olsem and other Crown representatives, the zoning board listened to testimony from several residents. The board decided to continue the hearing to Jan. 23 to allow an opportunity for the many other residents who signed up to speak and ask questions.

The continued public hearing Jan. 23 will be at a time and location to be announced on the village website

Many residents oppose the PDD zoning, believing it would give Crown complete control of how the land will be developed, without involving community members. They are concerned that flexible zoning potentially could allow Crown at any time to change its original development plan and build more apartments or businesses rather than single-family homes.

Sugar Grove resident Linda Gaska urged the zoning board commissioners to “slow down the process, provide transparency and involve all the stakeholders, which includes the residents, in community planning” before making a recommendation on the zoning request to the Village Board.

Some other concerns among residents about the proposed development are potential heavy truck traffic, pollution, increased crime, reduced property values and green space, and mature-tree removal.

“Many of us who live here chose Sugar Grove for the tranquility and clean air that rural living provides,” Gaska said.

The developer cited benefits from the development including an estimated $16 million in property taxes annually for the village and the creation of new jobs.

“These are low-paying jobs, not the kind of jobs that improve a community,” Gaska said.

Crown has owned the property for 17 years and wants to proceed with its development following the announcement that the Illinois Tollway Authority is set to go ahead with long-planned interchange improvements at I-88 and IL-47. The improvements will provide ramps to and from the east I-88 at IL-47 in Sugar Grove, making the interchange full-access by November.

Olsem said Crown is willing to provide the village’s entire share -- $1.25 million – of the $20 million tollway project cost.

Some residents fear that because of that promise from Crown, the village will grant the request for flexible zoning.

“Since Crown has committed to funding the interchange, how does our village say no?” said Sugar Grove resident Jason Mann.

After reviewing all the public hearing testimony from residents and the developer, the zoning board will decide whether to recommend the zoning change to the Village Board.

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