New version of St. Charles project not new enough for some

Updated 5/4/2012 10:49 AM
  • A residential development on the site of the former Applied Composites on North Sixth Street still must be approved by St. Charles aldermen.

      A residential development on the site of the former Applied Composites on North Sixth Street still must be approved by St. Charles aldermen. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

Developers of a major residential project on St. Charles' west side can expect to receive a familiar cold reception when they take a second crack at getting city approval in a couple weeks.

City officials have posted an updated concept plan for the Lexington Club project on the city's website. The project, on the site of the former Applied Composites on North Sixth Street, looks very similar to the plan aldermen rejected in February.

The one major change is the removal all row houses from the project. Taking their place would be a new small park. That change is likely to be welcomed by both aldermen and some 400 neighbors of the project who spoke against the last vision for the project. However, the number of townhouses in the project still represent nearly 80 percent of all the proposed housing. Aldermen specifically spoke against that mix in February. They, and the neighbors, wanted to see more single family housing.

As it stands, the number of residences would drop from the 142 proposed in February to a new total of 130. That would put the project at the high water mark for housing density on the 27-acre site.

But neighbors are already viewing the proposed changes as near-complete contempt by the developers for the notion of coming back with a true compromise.

"I consider the revised Lexington Club PUD proposal to be a slap in the face to the St. Charles aldermen who told Lexington Homes to reduce the density, to increase the number of single family homes and to reduce the number of townhouses," Jay Thomas said in a written interview.

Thomas echoed ongoing concern about how the Lexington Club project will fit in with the existing neighborhood that surrounds it. Major themes fitting with that concern continue to be the future impact to traffic in the area as well as schools.

A project that doesn't moderate those concerns before construction will only result in higher property taxes for the city's current residents, neighbors argue. There is also fear that with local foreclosure numbers back on the rise, Lexington Clubs new residences will only become new vacant housing. And, if those would-be townhouses and single family homes don't start to sell right away, residents fear they could transform into low-rent apartments. None of the neighbors want that.

"I am concerned about changing the nature of the St. Charles ambience that we all moved into to allow builders to design their max profit designs at our own risks," said Larry Norgaard in a written interview. "No high-density developments, period, in this small town. No Naperville. No Arlington Heights here in St. Charles."

And yet, neighbors do want to see the industrial waste and pollution on the site cleaned up. The site of the project is the former home of the Applied Composites business.

Another industrial use, which neighbors also may not want, could move into the site right now. The developers also continue to ask city officials to create a tax increment finance district to help ensure mutual profit for the developer and the city in the long run. Those factors will be bargaining chips when the project comes back before aldermen May 14.

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