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posted: 8/15/2017 5:18 AM

St. Charles rejects annexation on W. Chicago border

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The owners of a property on the eastern border of St. Charles that could usher in nearly 400 multifamily residences to the city brought a cart to the city council Monday night. In response, aldermen said they'd rather see the horse first.

The Petkus property is 27 acres located off Smith Road in an unincorporated area between St. Charles and West Chicago. Last October, representatives presented a plan to St. Charles aldermen showing the property could accommodate 416 apartments or condos in buildings stretching as high as four stories. Several St. Charles aldermen rejected that density unless a significant number of those residences became senior housing.

With that feedback, the ownership team returned to aldermen Monday night with a different vision. The team wanted aldermen to move forward with annexation in trade for capping the density of any residential development to slightly less than 400 units. The buildings would still stretch as high as four stories.

While the density appeared headed in the right direction, the number seemed hypothetical. The owner does not have a contract with a developer. There were no concept drawings, no price points on the units, no site plans for the positioning of the buildings, no information on the financing for the construction or details on building materials. All those are facets aldermen typically see before moving forward with any significant annexation.

Kevin Carrara, an attorney for the property owner, told aldermen they shouldn't fear that lack of detail. It will come when the owner finds a developer.

"This is a contract," he said. "There will be no surprises. All the control is here. The city controls the future development of this property."

Carrera explained having the annexation before the development proposal allows the owner to market the land with more certainty about what can be built on the site.

Aldermen said that's great for the owner. But the strategy was putting the cart before the horse from the city's perspective.

"I see no reason to annex this property without a plan, period," said Alderman Todd Bancroft. "The fact that there's uncertainty, that's the development business. It's going to have uncertainty and risk. I understand what the advantages are for your client. I just don't see a reason for us to annex without a plan. My advice is go get a developer and bring us a plan."

That feedback should be good news to the city's neighbors in West Chicago. West Chicago's director of community development sent St. Charles a letter last week urging denial of the annexation at this stage.

"West Chicago objects to the ongoing request by the property owner to secure density approvals as part of the annexation process," the letter reads. "This approach does not provide residents of adjacent properties, including West Chicago residents in the Cornerstone Lake area, any vision of certainty of what will be built there. Factors such as building design, placement and massing are all important factors and should be identified as part of any proposal for density. Approvals for density without these corresponding details results in a premature entitlement for land use without including the appropriate conditions for site development."

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