After a zoning hearing on 245 acres of of land being proposed for development by the Chicagoland SportsPlex and a hearing on whether to create a Business District in which sales taxes can be increased, the Lakewood Village Board had a meeting to consider its proposed TIF and Business District.
The crowd was about two-thirds the size of last week’s and there were fewer but more persistent questioners.
First a presentation was made to the Board’s Zoning Committee, consisting of Carl Davis, Gene Furey and Village President Erin Smith (participating by phone).
Jack Porter made the presentation for the $80 million proposal.
He started out by stating the not-for-profit corporation would waive its sales and real estate tax exemption.
Pointing out that the 2011 financing had failed, Porter said, “Our bonds are very attractive to all of us.”
Construction jobs are expected to number 500, while permanent employment will be 75-100.
Porter promoted the project as an “economic engine for the village.”
He promised “no light spillage outside the property.”
Lots of folks questioned the SportsPlex proposed for the property, but, in the end, the committee voted 3-0 to recommend that the Business Planned Unit Development be recommended for approval.
Grafton Township Road Commissioner Tom Poznanski spoke against any access from Hamilton Road.
He pointed out that the hilly nature of the road, which has double yellow lines throughout, which were applied after a study by the County Highway Department.
Privately, he wondered why a bridge could not be built over the Kishwaukee to carry whatever traffic needed to get to and from the fields on the western part of the property.
The committee recommended zoning approval and board consideration will come at a future regular meeting which has yet to be determined.
As the last time around, if the SportsPlex proposal falls through, the zoning would not be granted.
The project sponsors will have twenty-four months after the property is zoning to get things moving.
They expect to open by late summer of 2017.
“Is this for us or is it for other people?” a neighbor asked.
“So, it’s all business,” she summarized after hearing that the SportsPlex would seek local, regional and national tournaments.
Neighbors probed about what type of retail might end up on the 80 acres so designated.
No answer was given.
Epitomizing the attitude of the Lakewood neighbors were comments by Steve Camper:
“Does the Board understand the reason we live here in an agricultural community?
“All we hear is, ‘We don’t give a damn about the neighborhood.’
“You’re bringing this abortion to where we live.”
A woman who had taped a sign to her shirt asked,
“Why don’t you bring it to RedTail (the village-owned golf course)?
“Give it five years at RedTail before you have another failure.
“You guys have had a lot of failures.”
In the next part of the meeting, a woman asked, “Are you going to require a much more solid business plan?”
The Village Board meeting was relatively short.
There was considerable discussion of the “but for” aspect of the Tax Increment Financing justification.
That part argues that without the TIF District growth would not come to the intersection of Routes 47 and 176.
Pleasant Valley Road resident Al Stenstrom brought a poster on that part of the consultant’s analysis.
“There was no TIF on Randall Road,” he pointed out.
“What if the money doesn’t come in,” Attorney and Grafton Township Trustee Bob Wagner asked.
Trustee Carl Davis, who acted as President Pro-Tem in Smith’s physical absence, pointed out that the proposed expenditures in the TIF justification were flexible ones.
Charles Russell presented a petition opposed to the TIF and SportsPlex which he said was signed by all families in the Andover Acres subdivision
When a woman brought up the potential negative affects on Grafton Township, Davis pointed out that all overlapping tax districts “consented to the TIF District.”
Grafton Township Supervisor Jim Kearns said that he had not been notified of the meeting where consent was given.
Davis further replied to comments about the amounts in the cost section of the TIF support document as not being a mandate, not a budget.
“It’s not our intent to spend or not spend that money,” he said.
In response to those complaining about the encroachment of retail development on their homes, Trustee Gene Furey noted that “little by little, it will creep up [Route 47].”
He explained that Lakewood could not pay for the cost of fire protection which Crystal Lake had proposed half a decade ago, that in three years paying for such fire protection would be the “only reason for Lakewood.”
That led to Lakewood privatizing fire protection, then signing a contract with the Woodstock Fire Protection District.
“We cannot afford to pay for police and fire out of the General Fund.”
He defended the village-owned golf course, saying, “RedTail is a very viable business.”
He said it is an asset to the village worth millions, which “the bank owns this golf course [Turnberry].”
He predicted “one way or another there’s going to be [retail development at the intersection].”
A man from Woodstock School District 200 said the TIF “will raise the taxes on the people.”
“[Routes] 176 and 47 will be developed without a TIF.
“You’re going to put it on us because you want it.”
Previously, I pointed out that the TIF would raise taxes on all who live in McHenry County because most tax districts are not at their maximum rates and they have taken every dollar the Property Tax Cap will allow (that is, the rate of inflation). If future assessed value is withheld, then the remaining taxpayers will pick up the burden.
The Village Board voted 5-1 to create the Tax Increment Financing District. Ken Santowski was the only negative vote.
“Just because you have a big hammer doesn’t mean you’re always going to hit the nail,” he said after the meeting.