South Elgin housing development faces opposition
The proposed Water's Edge of South Elgin would have 50 apartments split between low-income housing and income for people with disabilities, mental illness and special needs.
courtesy of Allen+Pepa Architects Elgin Studio Inc
A proposed new housing development for low-income and disabled people in South Elgin is opposed by some residents and business owners who say downtown is not the right place for it.
Water's Edge of South Elgin would be a 50-apartment, three-story building in a vacant industrial area on the east side of the Fox River, north of the dam, to be split between affordable housing and housing for people with disabilities, mental illness and special needs.
The village's planning and zoning commission held two public hearings — one last month, one Wednesday night — and is scheduled to vote on the matter Jan. 16.
The Association for Individual Development, whose main office is in Aurora, teamed up with The Burton Foundation of Sterling, Ill., which has about a dozen affordable rental properties across the country, for the estimated $14 million project.
The South Elgin Legacy Alliance, a group that opposes the plan, gathered 938 signatures from residents and business owners who also oppose it, group member Don Means said.
"It doesn't seem like it's a logical place to put it. There are other locations better suited, " he said.
Means cited concerns about walkers' safety and said no new sidewalks are planned along the southern portion of Center Street. He also said the plan to connect Center Street to Robertson Road would cause the Fox River Trail to abruptly meet the road, which would be dangerous for bikers.
Peggy Fetting, on the other hand, wants the project in South Elgin.
Her son Brian, 33, has a mental disability, and is among the 47 people from South Elgin on the AID housing wait list, she said.
"All mentally disabled people should get a chance to live as independently as possible," Fetting said.
Kathy Hazelwood, AID's vice president of marketing and development, said such housing projects are usually met with opposition.
"(Residents) always say, 'We don't want it next door,'" she said. "We have met their demands in the things we could do," she said, referring to parking, lighting and brick around the entire building.
There are 1,100 people from Kane County on the AID wait list, she said. "This is a much, much needed place," she said.
The village's 2007 master plans calls for condos and row houses in that area, Means said. However, master plans are never meant to be set in stone because they depend on developers' willingness to build, South Elgin Community Development Director Steve Super said.
Fire officials like the idea of giving residents of Robertson Road a second access point in case of emergency, Super said.
The project would include one unit for an AID social worker and one for a live-in property manager, Super said. A full-time maintenance worker would be on-site most days, he said.
"It's a pretty unique project in that there is a lot of staff," Super said.
The proposed location is within a tax-increment financing district, where property taxes going to local governments are frozen at a certain point and taxes above that go into redevelopment. The South Elgin village board gave preliminary approval to the development's conceptual plan in May. If the village board gives final approval, the project would be completed by the end of 2013, Super said.
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