Batavia council agrees with west side residents about housing density

Updated 9/17/2015 5:43 PM

People who live near the former Shady Hill Gardens nursery in Batavia have managed to persuade aldermen the three-acre parcel isn't suitable for dense housing.

Instead, housing on it should be limited to five units per acre, aldermen said at Tuesday's committee of the whole meeting.


Aldermen were considering revisions to the city's comprehensive land use plan for several neighborhoods on the west side, collectively called the West Town area. The changes were proposed so that the land plan would match what is called for in a proposal to create a tax-increment financing district.

The land use plan is what city officials believe is best suited for land throughout town. Changing it doesn't change the current zoning of parcels. The Shady Hill site is zoned for housing lots of at least 14,000 square feet, or about one-third of an acre.

The plan commission recommended the land use plan call for five to eight units per acre, such as townhouses.

"It is in the middle of a (single-family) neighborhood. To me, that doesn't make a lot of sense," Alderman Susan Stark said.

"We have to be very considerate and thoughtful of existing neighborhoods when we do these infill pieces," Alderman Dave Brown said.

One resident cautioned that, although city administrators repeatedly said the comprehensive plan doesn't change zoning, the plan sends a signal to would-be developers about what the city might find acceptable.

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"We are setting the stage today for what could happen in the future," said Walnut Street resident Cory Clark.

The plan commission also recommended designating the former MasterCast foundry site on First Street for five to eight houses per acre. It was razed after a March 2014 fire.

The aldermen for the area -- Marty Callahan and Alan Wolff -- disagreed. Wolff favored following the plan commission's recommendation. He said he doesn't believe commercial businesses will want to locate along First Street, given it is not a busy street. But the other aldermen favored designating it for small stores and service shops, perhaps with apartments above them.

Aldermen will take a binding vote Monday.

A consultant estimated that it could cost about $20.9 million to improve the neighborhoods to halt a decline in property value.

The district is roughly encompassed by Wilson, Walnut and Lincoln streets, and Van Nortwick Avenue. It is about 27 acres, with 85 parcels of land and 51 primary buildings.


Property taxes paid to local governments would be frozen for up to 23 years. Any extra property tax collected would go into a special fund controlled by the city. That money could be used to help pay for improvements to existing properties and public infrastructure, such as streets and sewers, or to assemble properties in packages for redevelopment, among other things.

The city will convene a joint review board of affected taxing districts at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 8. It will have a public hearing about the proposed TIF district at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3.

At the end of the TIF term, the taxing districts would start receiving property taxes based on the updated value of the property.

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