Public outcry leads developer to drop plans for warehouses in Sugar Grove
Crown Community Development has withdrawn its request to build 4 million square feet of warehouses and distribution centers on 760 acres near I-88 and Route 47 in Sugar Grove.
The company cited "widespread public opposition" to the $645 million proposal in its notification to the village on Friday, according to President Sean Michels.
"It (a proposed business park) shouldn't have been a surprise (to residents)," Michels said. The village designated the area for such a development when it changed its comprehensive plan in 2014, he said, "but maybe the overall scope of the project was a reality check."
Crown has not said what it now will do with the land, which it bought between 2001 and 2006.
Sugar Grove annexed about 600 acres in 2013 and gave it "estate residential" zoning. That zoning allows one house per acre and is the most restrictive zoning classification available in the village. Towns commonly give land their most restrictive zoning when approving annexation agreements, even if another use is contemplated.
The annexation agreement contains a provision for de-annexing the land, Michels said.
The withdrawal means the plan commission's public hearing on the matter, scheduled to resume Wednesday, has ended. Several hundred people attended each of three sessions, with most expressing opposition to the plan.
A Feb. 21 public hearing to consider an amended annexation agreement also has been canceled.
Crown is still obligated to make a $650,000 payment toward the cost of building a full interchange at Route 47 and I-88, Michels said.
The village also has to pay $650,000 for that interchange. Construction is due to start this spring. Michels said the village likely will borrow the money.
If the Crown land was included in a tax-increment financing district, the money could have come from that, Michels said. A consultant is studying whether the Crown land is eligible to be put into a TIF district -- in which property tax payments to government bodies are frozen for up to 23 years and any additional property taxes generated are used to pay for improvements that make the site more valuable, typically infrastructure such as roads and utilities.
Residents complained at the public hearing about the change in the comprehensive plan and questioned how the village developed it. They said the warehouses and distribution centers would have unacceptably high truck traffic and feared emissions from trucks would pollute the air.
They also were concerned about the effect on the aquifer in that area; many draw their drinking water from it.
Michels said there are no plans to update the comprehensive plan. He said it would cost the village about $100,000 to do so, given it hires consultants to conduct the process that requires public hearings.
"It's a process. It's not something we do overnight with a couple of residents," he said.