Neighbors of the proposed Corporate Reserve project on St. Charles' far west side didn't pull any punches regarding their main reason for rallying against the proposed residential development Monday night: They don't want to live next to apartments.
They won't have to, as aldermen killed the project in a unanimous committee vote. The decision rejected a new version of the plan that scaled back the apartments to the smallest number yet proposed for the site.
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Paul Robertson of JCF Real Estate pitched a plan with 231 apartments; the original plan called for 407 residential units. The most recent downsized version featured 317 units as residents and aldermen decried the density of the plan during several meetings. As it turned out, no residential density is what they really wanted.
"None of us want the apartments," said Linda Radford, a neighbor to the proposed project. "We don't want apartments in our backyard. We don't want the traffic. What means something to me is to look out and see the Prairie Path, the land and the geese."
Radford was one of more than 80 residents who signed a petition asking aldermen to keep apartments off the site by maintaining the existing office/research zoning on the site. Neighbors believe office space and retail will move onto the site once the economy rebounds.
Aldermen Ray Rogina and William Turner then led the city council in a wave of remarks undercutting the residential foundation of the Corporate Reserve project. The two aldermen represent the portion of the city in which the project is located. Rogina said the repeated outcry from neighbors shouldn't be ignored. Turner, who said in previous meetings he isn't opposed to developments with apartments, decided he'd roll the dice with his constituents that the economy will rebound soon.
"I'm willing to give this more time," Turner said. "Let's see if we get this developed, but we can't leave this land vacant forever."
Respecting those views, all the other voting aldermen sided with Rogina and Turner and voted the project down.
The future of the land still rests with JCF Real Estate. To get a plan approved by the city council, a project with only office, retail or other commercial uses would be in order. Developers also could wait to see what happens with the local municipal election in 2013, as a new city council and mayor may have a different view of apartments at the site.