Is Kane County Board member's zoning deal fair?

Editor's note: This story has been updated to say an Elgin resident complained in 2008 about Kane County Board member Drew Frasz's five-acre property in Elburn, which includes his home and excavating business.

An organization funded by construction contractors said Tuesday that special zoning for a Kane County Board member's private business gives him an unfair advantage over his competition.

But it didn't seem to sway a preliminary vote in favor of the board member's request.

Elburn Republican Drew Frasz's Siteboss excavating company operates from and stores equipment on a five-acre parcel that also includes his home. The heavy construction equipment, office trailer and gravel piles on his property are not permitted under the zoning for Frasz's property.

That generated a complaint from an Elgin resident in 2008, and Frasz sought and received special permission allowing him to continue business as usual for four years.

When that deal expired, the county board extended the interim use another four years in 2013. The time is now up on that agreement.

Frasz came to the county board's development committee seeking another two-year extension with the promise that it would be the last request.

"No one wants to move out more than I do," Frasz said.

He has a plan in place that would create a new industrial park in Elburn. The village is about five meetings into its consideration of the plan and pending annexation of the property Frasz bought a couple of years ago.

The plan involves breaking ground on a new headquarters for his business in the spring of 2018, leading to a move from his current site in the spring of 2019.

To do that, Frasz needs to maintain the status quo at his current site. Kara Principe, an attorney for the Indiana, Illinois, Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting, said Frasz's deal is a "clear violation of Kane County zoning ordinances that has gone on for far too long."

"This (deal) creates an unfair advantage over competing businesses because he does not have to follow Kane County zoning laws," Principe said. "And there is no intention of being in compliance, it appears."

Principe's group has a number of union members on its board and staff. Frasz is a nonunion contractor who has voted against the prevailing wage multiple times as both a county board member and a forest preserve commissioner.

The county code limits interim special uses to five years. But that is a recent change in the law that came on the books in the middle of Frasz's current deal. County staff members said it would be reasonable to grandfather Frasz in under the old rules, which didn't set a specific time limit on interim uses.

The granting of the interim special use puts Frasz into compliance with county code.

Frasz reminded his colleagues on the board that the county has never cited his business for any violations.

"If you drive by, you would think it's a horse farm," Frasz said. "We've been very open that we needed this special use until we got through the recession. Most of my competitors have gone out of business. We have flourished in the last year. And now we are in a position to do what this organization has asked us to do."

The committee approved Frasz's request. The full county board must still vote before the deal is final.

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