Lakewood Approves TIF 5-1

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.

The crowd at the Lakewood Village Board meeting.

The crowd at the Lakewood Village Board meeting.

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

Jack Porter

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.”

This neighbor used a visual, plus her voice to be heard.

This neighbor used a visual, plus her voice to be heard.  Her sign says, “I’m mad about the SportsPlex AND low income housing.  I’m seeing RED!!!

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.

Al Stenstrom attacked the logic of the "but for" justification for the TIF.

Al Stenstrom attacked the logic of the “but for” justification for the TIF.

“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.

Carl Davis

Carl Davis pointed out that all the $66 million authorized does not have to be spent.

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.

Trustee Gene Furey explained the rationale behind the TIF District.

Trustee Gene Furey explained the rationale behind the TIF District.

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.”

Lakewood Bd TIF Vote night

Ken Santowski, Trustee to the far right with his hand on his head, was the only one to vote against the TIF District.

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.


Lakewood Approves TIF 5-1 — 30 Comments

  1. “No taxation without representation.”

    Or if the developer of a sports complex says so.

  2. The Lakewood Board wants more revenue, does not provide adequate transparency on its website, there’s no taxpayer watchdog, there was never an explanation of how exactly the money flows in a TIF from start to finish by the village to the taxpayers forking over the dough, yet the village approved the TIF anyways.

    Our state laws are so convoluted that village boards can approve TIFs yet not provide an estimate to taxpayers how much the taxpayer tax bill will be hiked as a result of the TIF.

    They don’t even try to explain.

    Because TIFs are complicated financial taxing instruments.

    Why is it legal to obtain taxpayer money yet not provide taxpayers an estimate as to how much of their money you plan to obtain.

    I mean there’s no ballpark, nothing.

    There’s not even the acknowledgement that the TIF could raise taxes, because they bring up the point, “but for” the TIF there would be no growth, so therefore we don’t have to provide you with even a ballpark estimate as to how much this is going to cost you, because there is no additional cost to you.

    And somehow no additional cost to you equals $66 Million to them.

    There’s a sucker born every minute.

    Maybe that’s why California outlawed TIFs, I have no clue.

  3. Trustee Furey’s comments that retail will creep up 47 and ” one way or another there’so going to be retail development at that intersection” contradict his vote for a tif predicated on the condition of ‘but-for the tif no development will occur’.

    His comments seem to indicate that he knows of developers who would have proceeded there without a tif.

    Only when trustees are subpoenaed for private communications and deposed will we be able to settle the ‘but-for’ question.

    Woodstock Fire Protection District will now need to justify that Lakewood contract to Woodstock residents who do pay taxes to that District.

    Terms of an adjusted Fire Protection contract taking into account the massive increase in cost to cover new tif development should be topic of public discussion.


  4. Has that land been bought and paid for already?

    How much have the Craig brothers and Mrs. Napier and other land owners been paid thus far?

    How much will they be paid in the future if the land has not already been closed on?

    It’s been some time since we last visited this topic I cannot recall the structuring of the land purchase.

    Thanks for any help.

  5. Not to get off-topic here, but has there been any environmental sampling and testing on the golf course acreage for contaminents of concern?

    Because aged golf courses are notorious for contamination.

    Take a looksee at Timber Trails in Western Springs and the effect of contamination on that development plan.

  6. It appears Woodstock Fire and Rescue wasn’t represented at the meeting of overlapping tax districts who consented to a project which was not explicitly described.

    Now we have a big can of worms to open.

    Woodstock Fire and Rescue is providing contract services to Lakewood at a price which does not account for this future tif development.

    The liability coverage alone (which would have coverage limits, so who is ultimately liable for full amounts of liability?) on a sports establishment hosting thousands of children daily engaged in dangerous physical activity, seems it will be staggering.

    And if more capacity needs to be added (fire trucks, ambulances, more personnel) to accommodate Lakewood tif development, how will that cost be divided between Woodstock residents who pay property taxes into this Fire Protection District by law, and Lakewood who pays by contract?

    And who is responsible for the long term payoff of those additional costs incurred to service this Lakewood tif, by contract, if Lakewood cancels the contract?

    Woodstock property taxpayers, right?

    Same Woodstock taxpayers who will be subsidizing Lakewood’s tif by paying all the costs of schooling any children of the tif (at $9700 per student per year).

  7. Do I see Grafton Trustee Wagner and Grafton Trustee Ziller and Grafton Supervisor/ Trustee Kearns and Grafton Road Commissioner Poznaski all in attendance at this meeting?

  8. All of you people who spoke out against this – you voted for it.

    The only way this changes is if you put your butt on the line and run for trustee.

    It really is that simple.

  9. Rodney, No land has been purchased at this time.

    The sportsplex has no money.

  10. In response to Bruce Parker—– Five years ago about 15 residents of Lakewood joined the fight (along with 300 McHenry County residents) against the sportsplex even though all Lakewood residents were notified of the problems regarding this venture.

    Even after all the evidence to prove the inadequacy of Lakewood Board’s logistics, current Lakewood board got voted into office with only 17% of Lakewood residents voting, so who’s fault is that.

    Again Lakewood Board is making decisions on properties that geographically do not effect their residents AND effect all of McHenry County taxpayers.

    We are fighting but we do not have control over Lakewood Board and believe us, if we did, this NEVER would have gotten off the ground in the first place.

    One Lakewood resident was there that made some very valid comments and had solid concerns over the lack of transparency, we applaud her tenacity and wealth of information presented, where was everyone else from Lakewood?

  11. Trustee Davis said that the $66 million does not have to be spent.

    So who polices the spending to limit it to the infrastructure and development at Route 47?

    ANSWER: nobody, so does that mean that Lakewood can spend it on whatever they want-which could include those monuments that Keven Cramer from the Northwest Herald talked about…

  12. Bruce Parker: I agree with your statement in general.

    The problems with all of our local governments is that moderate people don’t run any more, just activists.

    Having said that, many of the people who were at the meeting didn’t vote for the Lakewood trustees because, while this project will adversely affect them, they live outside the Village’s boundaries.

    If you live inside the Village, though, we should talk about your candidacy.

  13. Bruce Parker

    The people of Lakewood may be by-and-large in favor of the tif.

    It creates an area far removed from their wealthy neighborhood in which to locate Illinois -mandated low income housing.

    It creates an area to produce a tax revenue stream for which other taxpayers must foot the bill.

    (Most notably D200 schools’ taxpayers, who will bear the cost of $9700 per student per year and rising, but receive no property tax revenue from the housing in the tif creating the new student population).

    The people who spoke against this were from outside Lakewood, and will enjoy zero dollars of the tif rewards to be reaped for the next 35 years by Lakewood management (who will pass it along to developers of their choice).

    The people who spoke against this will be required by law to subsidize all educational expenses, and other expenses accruing due to housing and retail development, while watching all monetary tax rewards from the tif pass to hands in Lakewood.

    And these people did NOT get to vote for Lakewood Village rulers.

  14. The Village of Lakewood TIF Eligibility Study by SB Friedman includes in the $66 estimated costs for the use of TIF taxpayer funds, $14 million for, “Property Assembly, including acquisition, site preparation, and environmental remediation.”

    That is on page 32 in Table 3 Estimated TIF Eligible Project Redevelopment Costs.

  15. A major flaw in the presentation of the TIF proposal to the public by the Lakewood Village Board is they did not provide more detailed information to the public about the TIF on the Village website.

    What is known about environmental remediation?

    Jack Porter in the Woodstock Independent spoke about being concerned about the environment and working with environmental groups on the proposed project.

    So what do they know that the public has not been told?

  16. I don’t believe the people of Lakewood are “by-and-large” in favor of the TIF.

    I believe most of the residents are completely unaware of what just happened to their pocketbooks.

    Lakewood is a very sleepy little bedroom community with a power hungry village board who want to be “big fish” but unfortunately are stuck in a small pond.

    The TIF & the business district designation (the just in case we need even more money scheme) are not for the residents of Lakewood.

    It’s for making their pond larger.

    They need more money to spend.

    If they don’t have money to spend, life on the Lakewood board is not too stimulating.

    I know these people want a new village hall.

    Is this the real purpose of the TIF?…

    How many government buildings will be built in the designated TIF?

    Can money be used to raise salaries? pensions? pay for attendance at conferences? maintenance of the new facility?…. then of course we will need more staff, blah blah blah……. the viscous cycle begins & the beast grows.

    The current mantra of all elected officials is “We need to get things done.”

    Elected officials no longer are satisfied with the status quo…. They always need to be “doing something.”

    I’d like an elected representative who works to get things “UNDONE”…..

    Not once last night did anyone mention cutting spending to stay in budget.

    It was mentioned that Lakewood is in the best financial shape in years…. why can’t we keep it that way? !

    At least three times last night, it was stated by board members that the 47/176 corridor WILL be developed without the TIF.

    Plain & simple that NEGATES the validity of the TIF.

    Anyone who voted for the TIF… in my opinion committed fraud.

  17. Bruce Parker and Steve kinda hit the nail on the head BUT should we not go a few steps further?

    I don’t care if you live in Lakewood or not, the problem as I see it involves ALL local units of government and yes, the County and State.

    D-200 attended a meeting relative to the TIF but I do not see anywhere in their meeting minutes that they discussed the topic – we need to replace the members on that Board.

    In addition I suggest if you live anywhere in this County, run for office and help us change the political landscape which is more and more under the control of the ignorant and the ‘users’.

    To her credit I note that Rosemary Kurtz is running for an unpaid seat on her local school board.

    We need others to follow her lead.

    How many people living on pensions could serve the people or is it more important to play golf and travel the world?

  18. The overlapping taxing districts, meaning the Taxing Districts with at least once parcel in the TIF, had the chance to voice their opinion about the TIF, and object to the TIF, at the Village of Lakewood Joint Review Board Meeting on Friday December 12, 2014 at 2PM.

    That meeting is covered in this blog posting.

    Other Governments Look at Lakewood TIF

    Posted on 01/27/2015 by Cal Skinner

    Start making a listing of people who share your values that are on locally elected boards.

    Chris Jenner at McHenry County College.

    John Hammerand at McHenry County?

    Whom are the others.

    Then go to their board meetings to see how they operate.

    Or if the board meetings are videotaped and posted online, you can learn that way.

    This blog was founded because of a Crystal Lake TIF many years ago.

    So while we do have the blog for more awareness, these TIFs keep getting approved with little understanding of how they operate, little tracking (State Comptroller has some information on their website and Cook County has information on its website) while they are operating, and no way calculating how much the TIF will hike your tax bill.

  19. It is, of course, obvious any statements in a public meeting will be immortalized in the minutes and may be admitted in the record of a court case.

    Since the fool said they knew the property would be developed without a TIF the court case should be a forgone conclusion.

    This said, Illinois is a corrupt state with horribly corrupt public officials, including judges. Anyone is for sale.

    This is why government activities, like this TIF, need to be discovered sooner and dealt with in the public square before it gets to a court.

    The People still have the power should they choose to exercise it.

    Unfortunately, all the intellectualizing in the world will never form a group, perform a political action, be an activist watchdog, allow for the work to be carried by more than a small few, or create the desire within those who live on the producers of our country to fear overstepping their bounds.

    The People are still the biggest baddest wolf in the forest should they decide to stand up and fight.

    Unfortunately the people in power know they can keep slowly bleeding and poisoning The People until the American Dream dies peacefully in its sleep for lack of action.

    Get a group together yourselves or enlist the aid of any number of political groups(there are dozens) and get ahead of this horror show and shut it down before it steamrolls you with the inertia of public officials drunk on their own kool aid.

  20. Local companies are already being approached by the Sportsplex group to do the dirt work in the Spring.

    You don’t think the deal hasn’t already been made behind closed doors?

    These public meetings where Lakewood pretends to listen are all just blah, blah, blah.

  21. The Village of Lakewood has posted a 16 page presentation from the Tuesday January 27, 2015 Planning and Zoning Committee meeting on its website, in Adobe pdf format. > Government > Agendas & Minutes > 2015-01-27 Public Hearing Presentation.

    Selected highlights of the presentation:

    Introduction: Mark Saladin – Zanck, Coen, Wright & Saladin, PC

    General Background: Jack Porter (Project Manager) – Jack Porter & Associates, Inc

    The name has been changed from the McHenry County Sportsplex (for profit) to Chicagoland Sportsplex (501c3 not for profit).

    Chicagoland Sportsplex (CLS) has waived its exemption status from sales tax and property tax.

    So, they will charge sales tax and will pay property taxes.

    (But are they exempt from Federal and State Income Tax?)

    CLS is being underwritten and placed with $80 Million of private bonds, part of which are tax exempt.

    TIF District critical to success of bonds.

    December 2008: Vision presented to Village.
    •June 2010: Village of Lakewood Board approves annexation which provides contiguity to site.
    •July 27, 2010-Approved annexation, zoning and PUD for MCS.
    •August 2011-Financing failed due to markets and development agreement expired.
    •August 2011-September 2014 sought new financing under a re-organization to a NFP, 501 3.c
    •Commitment letter for underwriting bonds obtained in September 2014.

    CLS has under contract two of the three original parcels and has since contracted for the Crystal Woods Golf Course.

    A total of 245 acres.

    A portion of the property will be used for additional sports venues (approximately 42 acres) along with proposed future retail/ commercial.

    CLS is an approximate $57M “in use value” covering ~ 165 acre indoor and outdoor complex with a minimum of 150,000 SF indoor facility.

    This includes indoor training/ practice and competition space with retail and a restaurant.

    16 ballfields (various sizes) are planned and 12 full size soccer/ lacrosse fields (including the championship bowl); plus playgrounds and concession stands.

    The Preliminary plan includes adjoining retail opportunities already zoned B2.

    Sports and Activities: Baseball, Softball, Basketball, Football, Flag Football, Soccer, Lacrosse, Volleyball, Badminton, Table Tennis, Rugby, Wrestling, Cheer & Dance, Sledding, Toboggan, Gatherings, Martial Arts, Fencing, Bocce Ball, Bicycle & pedestrian paths, Fitness & Nutrition.

    Over 500 construction jobs created with 75-100 FTE for Sportsplex.

    Slides about how CLS planS to minimize the spillover of lights to adjoining properties at nighttime.

    Slides about the various environmental agencies and groups with whom they collaborated.

    Various environmental features such as permeable pavers, native plants, rain gardens, much more.

    2010 traffic study showed approximately 20,200 bi-directional daily.

    Recent IDOT study showed an increase of approximately 1,000 cars/ day since 2010.

    2010 study showed weekday pmpeak period bi-directional vehicle trips at 1,930 & Saturday @ 2,110 and Sunday @ 2,525 vehicle trips.

    Pleasant Valley, Hamilton, & Swanson Road:
    –Re-look at reconfiguration of land acquisition and effects on reduction of traffic more internal for majority of activities

    –Evaluate other alternatives for impact on Hamilton Road including minimizing entrances, right turn lanes, signage, etc. Work with Village and other stakeholders to find a solution.

    •Preliminary plat and building plans late spring
    •Final Plat late summer 2015
    •Two year build out.

  22. So 28 sports fields are planned for the Chicagoland Sportsplex.

    – 16 baseball / softball.
    – 12 soccer / Lacrosse.

  23. Just like the Romans, entertain the masses while you boil the frog.

  24. Just like any enterprise of this size, FOLLOW THE MONEY.

    Who will benefit from this unneeded sport compound?
    With all of the great parks in Mchenry county this is really unneeded.

    Make no mistake, your taxes will rise and some outsiders or maybe some insiders will make out.

    It remains to be seen who’s palms are being greased.

  25. Priest the wrath of the one from above will eventually take care of all of them.

    In the interim, it is incomprehensible that they should devise a plan to increase taxes.

    This is nothing more than more cronyism and corruption, hidden under the facade that they have the best interest of the people at heart.

    In reality, same sh…t different day!.

    And, appears, that the Local 150 is looking for more work.

    Do we really want to reward the “enforcers” from the Local 150 that have harassed intimated and threatened other business owners that have had to leave town because of it?

    That does not include all of the guys from the Local 150, just some of their leaders who have been enabled, empowered and encouraged by the old “REGIME”

    Apparently, we have some more “DOUGH NUTS” on our hands.

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