Algnoquin School District 300 is a veteran at fighting Tax Increment Financing Districts.
It took on Sears when it wanted an extension of its original TIF District subsidy.
The District carried the fight to Springfield and made the eventual extension less onerous than it otherwise would have been.
Below is the March 20th memo from District 300 Superintendent Fred Held and Distirct 220 Superintendent Brian Harris sent to Hoffman Estates officials in opposition of that villages latest attempt to increase the taxes on non-TIF property in order to benefit a developer.
Other school districts would do well to follow the example of these two school districts.
Re: Proposed Route 59/72 Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District
We have prepared this memorandum to present you with our concerns regarding a proposed tax increment financing (TIF) district on a 203 acre land area at the northwest corner of Route 59 and Higgins Rd. (Rt. 72) (the ‘Area’).
The School Districts have made a careful review of the proposed TIF district and have found, in consultation with independent land use planning experts, that the Area is not eligible for designation as a TIF district.
Tomorrow at 1:30 pm the Village will be reconvening the Joint Review Board (JRB) to discuss eligibility of the Area for designation as a TIF district.
The Village has proposed and intends to create a TIF district after which the property owner will develop the Area with a mix of single-family attached, single-family detached, and apartment units to be known as Plum Farms.
The most recent concept plan calls for 1,035 residential units but the Village staff has noted that this could increase to up to 1,500 residential units based upon allowable design modifications.
The development will also have a commercial component at the northwest corner of Routes 59 and 72, however, the overwhelming majority of this proposed development will be residential.
The Village is projecting that the development will produce $194 million of incremental tax revenue over the 23 year life of the TIF district according to the eligibility study prepared by Laube Consulting Group, LLC which you previously received from the Village.
The primary responsibility of a JRB is to evaluate whether an area meets the statutory requirements for designation as a TIF district. Given the 23 year life of a TIF district, the very significant revenue implications from this proposed development, and the anticipated student generation of more than 500 students, the School Districts jointly engaged the services of two land use planners to provide an independent expert review of the Laube report.
These experts have concluded that the Area does not meet the statutory criteria for a ‘blighted’ area and should not be designated as a TIF district.
The School Districts retained Allen Kracower of Allen L. Kracower & Associates and Theodore R. Johnson of TJ Design Strategies, Ltd. Messrs.
Kracower and Johnson are highly regarded land use planners with decades of experience.
Both the Kracower and Johnson preliminary opinions are attached for your review.
The Laube report relies on two approaches to conclude that the Area is ‘blighted’ and thus eligible for a TIF district.
First, Laube concludes that the Area is vacant land and that it suffers from chronic flooding and therefore is blighted.
While the land is vacant in the sense that there are no improvements on the property, it does not meet the TIF Act’s definition of ‘vacant land’, which requires that the land not have been commercially farmed for five years prior to establishment of the TIF district or otherwise satisfy subdivision and/or platting which were not evidenced.
Here the Area has been farmed for years and is assessed as farmland by the Cook County Assessor.
Also, only 22% of the 203 acre parcel is located within a FEMA flood plain, and Laube presents no information that the Area suffers from ‘chronic flooding’.
Indeed, the letter from an engineering firm submitted with the Laube report never concludes that the area suffers from ‘chronic flooding’, a requirement under the TIF Act.
As a second basis for eligibility, Laube finds that the Area has ‘obsolete platting’ and has suffered a decline in equalized assessed value (EAV).
In fact, with the exception of a 6.4 acre parcel (about 3% of the total acreage), the Area has no evidence of platting.
The concept of obsolete platting is that existing platting is a hindrance to development.
When there is no platting, you have a clean slate and no interference with potential development of the Area.
The Illinois Appellate Court addressed the issue of obsolete platting for a proposed TIF district that the Village of Burr Ridge attempted to create.
The Circuit Court and the Appellate Court rejected the same approach Laube is employing here.
A copy of that decision is attached. In downstate Heyworth, the Courts also looked at the issue of vacant land and obsolete platting and found an approach identical to what Laube is applying was flawed and rejected it.
The Heyworth decision is also attached.
I urge you to review the Kracower and Johnson opinions, and skim the Appellate Court decisions.
Page 7 of the Burr Ridge decision addresses obsolete platting.
In the Heyworth decision, pages 3-6 address vacant land and pages 10-11 address obsolete platting.
The two land use planners make a careful and fair review of the Laube report and conclude that the Area is not blighted and therefore not eligible as TIF district. As the Village Trustees, you will ultimately be called upon to approve or reject the proposed TIF district.
We are presenting you with this memorandum, the expert reports, and relevant Illinois case law so you are aware that there is great concern from the two taxing districts most impacted by this plan – School Districts 300 and 220 – that the proposed TIF district does not meet the statutory eligibility requirements.