Leaders of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu temple in unincorporated DuPage County want the property to become a part of Bartlett, their representatives told a village committee this week.
The proposed annexation would include almost 39 acres east of Route 59 and south of Army Trail Road.
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About 16 acres have already been developed with the temple, a cultural complex, a priest residence building, parking and a retention pond.
Janet Johnson, a lawyer for BAPS, said the two main reasons for the annexation request are to get connected to Bartlett's water supply and to have a Bartlett address. The latter, she said, is especially important because BAPS has identified with the village since it came to the area in the 1990s.
"I think that that's really the primary driver here, is just to become a part of the community that they feel that they're a part of," she said. "And water and sewer is very significant because to have a facility of this size on a septic system is fraught with potential for problems down the road."
Village planner Sonya Abt said BAPS was not able to annex into the village when it first moved to the area because it did not own property that was contiguous to Bartlett. After BAPS purchased about 7 acres of contiguous land a few years ago off Army Trail Road, just east of Bartlett Square, it started talking with the village about annexation.
Jim Plonczynski, Bartlett's community development director, said if a proposed subdivision just north of Army Trail Road would have been built, water and sewer would have been closer and BAPS' annexation could have probably been accelerated.
The annexation request has been split into six phases, and Plonczynski said BAPS is hoping at least the first two phases -- which will include the annexation of existing buildings and areas where new parking lots, two gazebos, a storage building, sports courts and playground will be built -- can be approved by the end of this year.
"They're anxious to move forward," Plonczynski said, adding that BAPS has prepaid annexation fees. "We feel it's ready to move forward and be annexed at least for the initial phase."
Part of the third phase entails connecting the property to the municipal sewer system. Abt said BAPS is delaying that phase -- which she called "a little cost-prohibitive" -- because it will be responsible for paying for the connection and the need is not immediate. The exact cost of the water connection is unknown because engineers have not examined the project area yet.
Concept plans for the last three phases feature a family activity center and commercial development off Army Trail Road, including Yogi Plaza, which might house shopping, a restaurant and a convenience store that would offer products that meet Swaminarayan dietary requirements.
In a letter to the board, Johnson said development of the plaza will "enhance the tax base for the village" and be compatible with the shopping center located on the corner of Route 59 and Army Trail Road.
Abt said she thinks the major benefits for the village would be having a large tourist attraction within its boundaries and extra tax revenue if Yogi Plaza were developed. However, she said, it would also help the village's public works.
"If they annex in and they do the water and sewer improvements, that will help loop a system," she said, noting that the system in that area is "kind of at dead ends now."
"We're excited to finally have this at a point where it's moving along," she added. "It's been a long time coming."
The BAPS petition for annexation will be brought to the village plan commission on Thursday, July 12, for review and a public hearing. Abt expects a final approval of the annexation to occur sometime in September or October.
Temple: Six-phase annexation plan includes commercial development