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updated: 3/6/2014 6:13 PM

Housing study suggests more rental inspections in North Aurora, Batavia

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Batavia should consider encouraging the development of live-and-work spaces in its downtown to appeal to young professionals, and to build on its efforts to develop a downtown arts community.

It should also consider encouraging the building of "workforce affordable" housing along Kirk Road, because it would be close to a bus line.

Both recommendations are found in an updated report on the "Homes for a Changing Region" study done last year of housing in Batavia, North Aurora and Geneva.

The Batavia Plan Commission heard a presentation on the update last week, the North Aurora village board received its update Monday, and Geneva officials are due to hear their report next week.

Batavia's report can be found on the city website at cityofbatavia.net/content/articlefiles/12152-PC-HomesStudy2_14_14.pdf.

The study was done by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and the Kane County Community Development Department. Initial findings were presented to the towns last fall, then public workshops were held to get residents' input. Online comments were also solicited. Final recommendations will be presented later this spring.

In Batavia, 76 people submitted online comments.

One of the recommendations, for both North Aurora and Batavia, was for the towns to increase the inspections they do of rental housing.

Batavia has a rental housing licensing program, but it only applies to large multifamily establishments. The CMAP report recommends annual inspections of all rental properties. It suggested Batavia model its program after that of Addison, where rentals are characterized as "very good," "satisfactory" and "unsatisfactory." Those rated "very good" get a one-year inspection waiver, but the rest are subject to more inspections per year.

The reports also suggested Batavia and North Aurora should offer real estate developers "density bonuses" to develop more intense residential uses near public transit routes, such as along Randall and Orchard roads. Density bonuses are when a town allows a developer to build taller or bigger buildings than might normally be allowed on a site, in exchange for including affordable housing units in the plan.

The Batavia City Council will review the recommendations at its March 18 committees of the whole meeting.

For North Aurora, 44 people reviewed the plan online. They told planners they believe that senior citizens and younger people are not interested in single-family housing.

The draft recommendation recommends the village consider allowing higher-density housing next to commercial areas, as a transition; that in "stalled" development areas, items such as parks and community gardens be allowed in the interim on vacant land; and that the village keep a closer eye on single-family homes that are being rented out, including working with homeowners' associations to notify landlords about housing rules and instituting inspections of single-family rentals.

It also suggested the village sign up for a weekly list of foreclosure filings that the Kane County Circuit Court clerk prepares, so it can monitor those properties more closely.

The North Aurora draft can be found at vil.north-aurora.il.us/pdf//2014.03.03%20VB%20PACKET.pdf.

The studies are only advisory. It will be up to the cities and villages as to whether to take the suggestions to heart.

North Aurora village trustees had no comment after the presentation Monday.

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