Districts 220, 300 worried by Hoffman Estates annexation plan

Plans for 10-story apartment buildings and small single-family home lots on 145 acres that could be annexed into Hoffman Estates tonight are worrying two nearby school districts.

The land at the northwest corner of routes 59 and 72, disconnected from Barrington Hills in 2009 through a lawsuit, forms the largest part of a planned 185-acre residential and commercial development.

Officials from Barrington Unit District 220 and Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300 continue to voice concerns about the Plum Farms subdivision's density and lack of school sites, even after the developer dropped a request for a big tax incentive earlier this month.

Anthony Iatarola, manager of the development partnership, said in February that at most 575 students are expected to live on the site's planned 1,035 homes.

But District 220 Superintendent Brian Harris says his district estimates two to three times that many students would come to the two school districts that would serve the subdivision.

Though the concept plan shows 1,035 dwellings of various types, the proposed annexation agreement would allow up to 1,325 units across all 185 acres.

Ever since being asked to weigh in on the now dropped request for a tax increment financing district to help the developer recoup $21 million in property taxes, officials from both school districts said they want more details on the proposal.

And they didn't get those until midafternoon Friday, when details of Monday's proposed annexation and development agreement were released.

"They've been working on this since 2004, and suddenly it's a mad scramble," District 220 board President Brian Battle said. "I've been racking my brain trying to figure out why this is so time sensitive."

Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod, who consistently voted against every step in the TIF district consideration process, said he also considers a potential decision Monday "a rush to judgment," though he would not commit to how he would vote.

"I'm glad the TIF went away," McLeod said. "I'm still concerned about the density."

He added that he would like to seen a provision in the agreement that there will be no further requests for TIF districts on the site.

Trustee Kim Mills, the chairwoman of the village board's planning, building and zoning committee, said she received the proposal Thursday night and had not yet had time to form an opinion.

Battle said District 220 officials planned to review the proposal with their attorneys over Easter weekend so they could explain it for residents at a town-hall meeting set for 4:45 p.m. today at Barbara Rose School, 61 Penny Road in South Barrington.

The village board meeting on the annexation agreement will begin at 6:50 p.m. today at Hoffman Estates' village hall, 1900 Hassell Road.

Battle said he's particularly concerned by the proposed new "Traditional Neighborhood" zoning classification for the site that would allow for both 10-story multifamily housing as well as smaller home lots than Hoffman Estates previously has allowed on land once governed by Barrington Hills' minimum 5-acre zoning.

Under Barrington Hills' zoning, the maximum number of units would have been 37, less than 3 percent of the maximum now proposed.

District 300 Superintendent Fred Heid, who's also been deeply critical of the development proposal, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Much less controversial for the school districts has been a plan for commercial development on 24 acres at the 59/72 intersection.

The proposal calls for at least 40,000 square feet of retail space initially. Earlier discussions between the village and the developer indicated it could grow to between 175,000 and 200,000 square feet and also include some small office buildings.

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This is a sketch of one of seven apartment buildings proposed by UrbanStreet Group LLC for the planned Plum Farms mixed-use development on 185 acres at the northwest corner of routes 59 and 72 in Hoffman Estates. Single-family homes and a retail center of up to 200,000 square feet are also envisioned. Courtesy of Hoffman Estates
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