Lakemoor pushes for settlement to clear way for Woodman's development

  • Woodman's Food Market Inc. has reached a tentative deal to buy and develop a 74-acre parcel at the southwest corner of routes 12 and 120 in Lakemoor, but village officials say a lawsuit is jeapordizing the plan.

      Woodman's Food Market Inc. has reached a tentative deal to buy and develop a 74-acre parcel at the southwest corner of routes 12 and 120 in Lakemoor, but village officials say a lawsuit is jeapordizing the plan. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

  • An aerial view showing two areas near routes 12 and 120 that have been designated by Lakemoor officials as tax increment financing districts to spark development.

    An aerial view showing two areas near routes 12 and 120 that have been designated by Lakemoor officials as tax increment financing districts to spark development. Courtesy of David Alarcon/Village of Lakemoor

 
 
Updated 3/14/2016 5:07 PM

With a significant development at routes 12 and 120 potentially in hand, Lakemoor officials are appealing to three taxing bodies to settle a lawsuit the village says puts the plan in jeopardy.

In a lengthy letter, Mayor Todd Weihofen asks board members of Wauconda Township, the Wauconda Area Library District and Wauconda Unit District 118 to consider the bigger picture and accept a revenue sharing offer that would allow construction of a 240,000-square-foot Woodman's grocery store and related improvements to proceed.

 

"We need your help, I write today because we are at risk of losing one of the most significant development opportunities this area has ever seen," the letter states.

To sway them, Lakemoor has revived and sweetened what it regards as a generous offer to end the legal impasse.

After Woodman's opens, the taxing bodies would share $100,000 in sales tax each year. Eventually, possibly eight to 10 years, they would get 80 percent of the added property taxes, Weihofen said.

In the letter, Weihofen said he wants to ensure board members are not "left in the dark due to a lack of information, misinformation or political posturing."

"The biggest problem we see right now is the elected officials aren't acting as elected officials," he charged Monday.

The respective boards are expected to consider the matter in closed sessions this week.

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"The offer will, of course, be given careful consideration," District 118 Superintendent Dan Coles said. He declined further comment.

At issue is the village's designation of the 74 vacant acres at the southwest corner of the intersection as a tax increment financing district. In a TIF, additional property tax money that would have been distributed to local governments from the improved value of the property -- typically for 23 years -- instead is used to pay for various development costs.

The three entities took the village to court, saying the farm field does not qualify as a TIF district. That case is pending, and since the recent news concerning Woodman's interest in developing a portion of the property, settling it has become more urgent for the village.

"The lawsuit has nothing to do with agreements or Woodman's. It's just does it qualify as a TIF district," Wauconda Township Supervisor Glenn Swanson said. "I'm very much in favor of Woodman's and seeing the corner developed, but we have to do it the correct way."

Lakemoor officials say the initial development will generate $100 million in annual sales and 220 permanent jobs.

In this case, the extension of sanitary and storm sewers, water, electric and gas, and road improvements to prepare the first part of the site for retail development will cost $9.5 million to be paid with funds from the tax increment financing district. Preparing the entire area will cost $15 million, according to the village.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A key, Weihofen said, is $4 million in intersection and traffic signal improvements. The developer would front that cost, but the village would pay half as a sales tax rebate.

Without the special taxing district, village officials say, nothing would happen at the corner and the taxing bodies would not see any property tax increases. Taxing bodies disagree. The village also designated an area north of Route 120 as a TIF district and the entities had no objection at that site.

@dhMickZawislak

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