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updated: 11/27/2012 11:17 PM

Committee targets Itasca's long-term goals

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A committee of Itasca leaders, staff members and residents met Tuesday to explore what the village should become in the next 20 years.

Itasca is revamping its comprehensive plan, which was last set in 1994 and aims to set future goals for development.

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In 2005, village leaders chose take a more targeted focus, creating a downtown development plan in lieu of updating the comprehensive plan.

Now, the village is again revising its overall strategy for development and growth in a process that started last spring and is expected to end early next year.

On Tuesday, the committee listened to a presentation by consultants from Houseal Lavigne Associates. Village leaders hired the firm to study existing conditions and needs in Itasca, then to help formulate a strategy to improve weak areas and maintain strengths.

Consultants Devin Lavigne and Doug Hammel worked with the committee and other residents in September to gather feedback on what the community would like to see in Itasca's future.

Tuesday, they said, was to gauge whether they accurately understand Itasca's needs based on the feedback from September.

During a two-hour discussion, talks focused on goals for retail development in areas like a Rohlwing Road corridor, whether more multifamily housing is a good idea long-term, and the upcoming Elgin-O'Hare Expressway expansion.

The consultants said Itasca is a "mature community" with no clear areas -- like open cornfields -- for development.

"The development opportunities that exist are really redevelopment opportunities that would have to be sensitive to surrounding areas," Hammel said Tuesday.

Village President Jeff Pruyn, along with several other committee members, said they would like to see the industrial corridor along Rohlwing Road transform into commercial space.

The consultants said this could be wise, since traffic is projected to increase with the Elgin-O'Hare expansion.

Trustee Mike Latoria also raised the question of what should be near the future Elgin-O'Hare exits slated for Prospect Avenue and Rohlwing Road. While members floated different ideas like residential sites, office and retail space, Latoria said he wanted visible businesses that would attract people to Itasca.

"Are (people) going to come to town, or are they going to go to Elk Grove and Woodfield?" Latoria said. "If the expressway is going to go in, I'd love to see it like Rosemont."

Rosemont recently build MB Financial Park as the Balmoral exit was added off the I-294 tollway. The park features a movie theater, several eateries, hotels, an ice rink and will soon be near an outlet mall.

Hammel and Lavigne also said market studies reveal both Itasca and the Chicago suburbs at-large have increased demand for rental units. This sparked discussion about the Hamilton Lakes Business Park near Thorndale and I-355, whose management recently proposed building upscale apartments in the complex.

Some residents showed concern about an increase in traffic that apartments could create in that area. Others, like Pruyn, said they were concerned whether a rental market is a short-term demand created in response to the housing market collapse.

"With tighter lending restrictions and empty-nesters looking to downsize I've got to think that would be a long-term recommendation," Lavigne said.

The committee will meet again next month to reach a consensus on the direction the comprehensive plan should follow as they continue to develop it. Village leaders said the plan should be finalized by late winter or early spring 2013.

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