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updated: 2/2/2018 8:12 AM

Bloomingdale, resort owner blame each for Indian Lakes stalemate

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  • Village officials say they need more documents from a developer before they can schedule a public hearing on a plan to put hundreds of houses on a former golf course at Indian Lakes Resort. But the company that wants to redevelop the 27-hole golf course insists its application is complete.

    Village officials say they need more documents from a developer before they can schedule a public hearing on a plan to put hundreds of houses on a former golf course at Indian Lakes Resort. But the company that wants to redevelop the 27-hole golf course insists its application is complete.
    Daily Herald file photo

 
 

More than four months after receiving a proposal to redevelop roughly 190 acres of open space at Indian Lakes Resort, Bloomingdale has yet to begin its formal review of the application.

Now village officials and the owner of Indian Lakes are pointing fingers at each other about why public hearings haven't been scheduled for the plan to transform the resort's former golf course into a neighborhood with hundreds of houses for empty-nesters.

"We have a plan on the table," Indian Lakes spokesman Patrick Skarr said. "We're asking the village to step up and schedule public meetings."

Village Administrator Peter Scalera, however, says the application can't go to the planning and zoning commission because it's incomplete. He said the developer hasn't provided documents the village needs to complete the application.

"We're still waiting," Scalera said. "That is why the public hearing process hasn't been initiated. We don't have a complete application."

The stalemate comes a year after First ILR LLC, which owns the 223-acre Indian Lakes property along Schick Road, announced plans for the redevelopment and a major renovation of the hotel.

A 27-hole golf course and a 36,000-square-foot conference center were closed in late 2016 as part of an effort to save the property's hotel. Indian Lakes officials said the golf course was losing nearly $1 million a year.

But because of the delay in redeveloping the golf course land, First ILR says improvements to the hotel and a new franchise agreement have been placed on indefinite hold.

"We're not going to move forward with that investment given the uncertainty and lack of leadership out of the village at this point," Skarr said. "There's a cloud of uncertainly hanging over Bloomingdale. All of Bloomingdale deserves some resolution. And that resolution can begin when they schedule a public hearing on our plan."

Under the plan, the subdivision for residents 55 and older would be called Four Seasons at Indian Lakes and have roughly 530 ranch-style houses. It's estimated the neighborhood would generate about $5 million in annual tax revenue, including $4 million for school districts.

For the project to happen, however, the golf course land must be rezoned for residential development. It's currently zoned for resort and recreational use.

Village officials say it's the rezoning request that's complicating the process.

The developer, K. Hovnanian Homes, wants Bloomingdale officials to do a preliminary review of the proposal and provide feedback before the company spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on final engineering.

"There's no way our plan as drafted today is the final plan that would be approved," Skarr said. "We know there's going to be some changes. So it's absolutely unnecessary to develop final engineering at this stage."

But Sean Gascoigne, Bloomingdale's director of community and economic development, says final engineering is required for rezoning in the village.

"They're asking to definitively change the zoning on a property with preliminary plans," Gascoigne said.

Russ Whitaker, an attorney for the Indian Lakes project, disagrees.

"There's absolutely nothing in their code that says you need final engineering for a rezoning," said Whitaker, adding the village is "obligated" to act on the application.

Whitaker said "substantial" changes were made to the plan after First ILR hosted four meetings last year that were attended by 500 residents who live near the golf course.

"We would have hoped to have been through the public process at this point in time," Whitaker said. "But we haven't even started a public process because we've gotten so little cooperation from the village."

Scalera said the village wouldn't be following its own code if it scheduled a public hearing based on the application it has now.

If K. Hovnanian wants a preliminary review, it should drop the rezoning request and submit an application for a planned unit development, village officials said.

"The course the village is taking is one of prudence, due diligence and affords the community the opportunity to have their say on this project," Village President Franco Coladipietro said.

Coladipietro stressed that public hearings will be key, because the village board wants feedback before making a final decision.

"It's the quintessential community decision that requires the input of the residents," he said.

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