Cary affordable housing project moves ahead despite opposition

  • This rendering depicts an $18 million affordable housing project recently approved by the Cary village board. The proposed 60-unit apartment complex is targeted for a 4.5-acre site at First and Pearl streets.

    This rendering depicts an $18 million affordable housing project recently approved by the Cary village board. The proposed 60-unit apartment complex is targeted for a 4.5-acre site at First and Pearl streets. COURTESY of the VILLAGE OF CARY

  • This rendering depicts an $18 million affordable housing project recently approved by the Cary village board. The proposed 60-unit apartment complex is targeted for a 4.5-acre site at First and Pearl streets.

    This rendering depicts an $18 million affordable housing project recently approved by the Cary village board. The proposed 60-unit apartment complex is targeted for a 4.5-acre site at First and Pearl streets. COURTESY of the VILLAGE OF CARY

  • Signs such as this one opposing an $18 million affordable housing project in Cary are staked in front yards throughout town. The village board recently approved Pedcor Investments' proposed 60-unit apartment complex at First and Pearl streets.

    Signs such as this one opposing an $18 million affordable housing project in Cary are staked in front yards throughout town. The village board recently approved Pedcor Investments' proposed 60-unit apartment complex at First and Pearl streets. Courtesy of Jim Cosler

 
 
Updated 9/25/2014 9:12 PM

An $18 million affordable housing project in Cary is moving forward despite growing resident opposition.

The village board recently approved Pedcor Investments' planned 60-unit apartment complex targeted for a 4.5-acre lot at the northeast corner of First and Pearl streets. The project required the property's rezoning, a conditional use permit and other variances also approved by the board, Village Administrator Christopher Clark said.

 

"It's been vacant for a decade," Clark said of the site, which formerly housed a manufacturing business.

The project awaits approval of federal low-income housing tax credits from the Illinois Housing and Development Authority. If granted, the developer would have to restrict rents for 15 years.

"It's a great opportunity for the village of Cary," Village President Mark Kownick said. "We do have a need for housing in this particular market. We have a requirement to attain 10 percent affordable housing within the village."

At present, the village says 6.9 percent of its housing stock is deemed affordable housing. The Pedcor project would bring that number up to roughly 7.4 percent, Kownick said.

Pedcor plans to build six two-story buildings next to the village's only other apartment complex, Oak Knoll Apartments, which has 96 units and is more than 95 percent occupied, officials said.

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Kownick said Pedcor has designed the buildings with an upscale look. Each apartment will have front and back porches, and the complex includes a playground, gazebo and large clubhouse.

"We were able to work with the developer to tweak them to what we feel the village of Cary should portray," he said.

Residents opposed to the project have put up yard signs, signed an online petition and created a website called carymatters.com with an accompanying Facebook page.

Dozens of residents also packed recent zoning board meetings to voice concerns about the potential increase in traffic from the development, density, drainage and sewage problems, the impact on public services, property values and parking.

"People are opposed to this project mainly because it's going to raise property taxes and overburden our schools," said Jim Cosler, chairman of the Cary Matters PAC. "The location for it is very poor. It is congregating all the lower-income housing in one part of Cary. There are better places for it to be built."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Cosler said Cary residents already are paying some of the highest property taxes in McHenry County and giving this apartment complex a break is unfair.

The development is expected to generate roughly $750,000 in one-time impact fees and about $90,000 yearly in property tax revenues for various taxing bodies, according to officials.

"This places a high-level burden on the taxpayers of Cary, and enough is enough," Cosler said.

Residents have asked the attorney general's office to look into possible Open Meetings Act violations at the July 1 and July 15 village board meetings on the Pedcor project.

"We had hundreds of people that got turned away from these meetings and never got to voice their opinions, and that's a violation of the Open Meetings Act," Cosler said. "The whole process in which this thing was passed was flawed."

Cosler said the hope is the attorney general will declare all business conducted during those meetings void and the village board would have to redo its vote on a motion to rescind the Pedcor ordinance, which failed July 15 on a tied vote.

Residents also have sent nearly 400 letters to the Illinois Housing and Development Authority against Pedcor's application for tax credits that would help offset construction costs. Cosler said residents met with the agency's representatives who said they had never seen this kind of community response before.

"The opposition isn't waning," Cosler said. "I get new calls every day."

Cosler said it has been difficult spreading the word to a majority of older-generation Cary residents who are not online.

Pedcor's tax credit application is under review and a final decision is expected in October, said Cami Freeman, IHDA spokeswoman.

If Pedcor is not successful securing the tax credits, there won't be a project, village officials said.

Kownick said local businesses support the development, which will provide a low-cost living option for a wide demographic of people, including factory workers, store clerks and teachers who choose to work in Cary. It also could appeal to retired seniors and veterans, he said.

The Cary Grove Chamber of Commerce board submitted a letter in support of the project.

"This isn't a free ride to live here," he said. "The people are just lower-income earners. This gives our employers an opportunity to have employees live within the community. We will be welcoming new residents. They will shop at our stores. They will become a part of our community."

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