Advisory board doesn’t recommend TIF district for big Sugar Grove development

An advisory board refused Wednesday to recommend creating a $350 million tax increment financing district for a controversial development off I-88 in Sugar Grove.

But it didn’t oppose it, either.

The Sugar Grove TIF Joint Review board voted 3-3 on a motion to recommend creating the 861-acre district, so the motion failed. Six members voted “present.”

The TIF district would be for The Grove, a development by Crown Community Development.

The plan calls for a 244-acre business park; 123 acres for office, commercial, retail or civic use; and 393 acres of housing.

The TIF study estimates it would cost at least $220 million to put in roads and utilities, including water and sewer pipes, for the site. The land would also need about $110 million in site preparation, such as grading, to do what the developer wants. Those costs could be paid with property tax dollars generated by the site if a TIF district is approved.

In a TIF district, property tax payments to taxing bodies are frozen at their current level for 23 years. As property values increase, the difference between what the governments collect and the higher taxes the land generates goes into a fund that helps pay for certain improvements within the district.

  Looking east from Route 47 at land proposed for an 861-acre development in Sugar Grove. Susan Sarkauskas/

Kane County Supervisor of Assessments Mark Armstrong, Blackberry Township Supervisor Esther Steele, and Sugar Grove and Countryside Fire Protection District Chief Brendan Moran voted “no.”

Sugar Grove Village President Jen Konen, a Waubonsee Community College representative, and the public member of the board — Susan Smith — voted “yes.” Konen nominated Smith to be the public member.

If the board had voted against it, then a supermajority of the village board would have had to vote “yes” to institute the district.

Representatives of the Town and County and Sugar Grove Library districts, the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District, the Sugar Grove Park District, Sugar Grove Township and the Kaneland school district voted “present.” The library representative said her board was split in its opinion. The township representative said he didn’t have enough information and had not discussed it with his board.

A TIF consultant hired by the village said the land, located east of Route 47 straddling I-88, qualifies for a TIF because it is blighted.

According to a TIF eligibility report, the land is blighted because it chronically floods and contributes to flooding in the Blackberry Creek watershed.

Opponents said the land floods only in spots. One longtime neighbor to the south said she’s never had water from the site flood her land.

Armstrong asked how much flooding the creek has and how engineers determined that 88% of the land contributes to that flooding. The consultant said the question was irrelevant. According to an engineering report, development on the land would increase flooding in the watershed unless structures are built to handle the runoff.

“I find the (TIF) study unpersuasive,” Armstrong said.

Steele was concerned about the impact on roads in Blackberry Township. She said the village will have jurisdiction over the development’s roads, but drivers going to and from the site will likely use roads the township maintains.

The township road district has long struggled with having enough money to fix its roads.

More than 30 people attended the meeting. Many spoke against the proposal. Those living in nearby unincorporated neighborhoods said they fear contamination of their wells, increased danger from putting more traffic on Route 47, and the possibility of warehouses and a truck fueling being constructed center on the site.

The village board will have a public hearing on the matter on June 18.

Crown proposed something similar in 2018 but withdrew the request after public opposition.

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