'This is an all-Bloomingdale issue': Hearing on Indian Lakes draws hundreds of people
A developer looking to build houses on a shuttered golf course in Bloomingdale wants to have a community conversation about the proposal.
Judging from the crowd that packed a public hearing Tuesday night, that discussion is going to take a while.
More than 700 people crowded into the auditorium at Lake Park High School's East Campus in Roselle to learn about K. Hovnanian Homes' plan to transform the former golf course at Indian Lakes Resort into a neighborhood for empty nesters.
"This is an all-Bloomingdale issue," said Dan McGuire, one of the organizers of a group opposing the redevelopment. "If you look at our petitions, they are from across Bloomingdale."
No residents were able to address the planning and zoning commission because K. Hovnanian officials spent most of the four-hour meeting presenting their proposal. Public comment is expected to begin when the hearing reconvenes on May 7.
"I can assure you that we will continue to hold hearings on this matter, so as to allow anyone that wishes to speak the opportunity to do so," said Leonard Jaster, commission chairman. "Our sincere desire is to hear from members of the community as to the suitability of this project."
First ILR LLC, which owns the 223-acre Indian Lakes property along Schick Road, permanently closed the 27-hole golf course and a conference center in late 2016 to preserve the hotel.
Now K. Hovnanian Homes is seeking village permission to redevelop the roughly 191 acres of former golf course land into an "active lifestyle" community for residents 55 and older that would be called Four Seasons at Indian Lakes.
Ultimately, it will be up to the village board to decide whether to approve the plan. But K. Hovnanian isn't requesting a vote right away.
The developer first wants to have a public discussion "about building a better Bloomingdale by repurposing, reinvesting and reconnecting Indian Lakes to the community," said Russ Whitaker, an attorney for the project.
Whitaker said the goal is to educate and receive feedback from residents and plan commissioners.
"With that feedback, it is our intent to regroup as a team to work with village staff and consultants and to ultimately understand how to move forward with respect to the property," he said.
Under K. Hovnanian's plan, Four Seasons at Indian Lakes would feature 535 ranch-style houses and a clubhouse. It also would offer roughly 70 acres of open space and more than 2.7 miles of walking paths.
"We believe the proposed plan is a reasonable and responsible plan forward," said Stephen Schwartz, a managing member of First ILR. "The proposed resort-at-home community is in harmony with the existing land use and provides a reasonable transition, along with a well-landscaped buffer, between adjoining neighborhoods."
He said the development would enhance property values and increase Bloomingdale's tax base.
"I firmly believe Bloomingdale deserves better than a closed golf course," Schwartz said. "The economic impact study of our proposed plan demonstrates this plan will unlock tremendous economic and fiscal benefit for Bloomingdale and our local governments."
The neighborhood would generate roughly $4.4 million in annual tax revenue for area school districts.
While the public hearing is only dealing with the project proposed by K. Hovnanian, there are other plans for the remaining resort land.
According to documents, the roughly 31 acres along Schick Road could someday become the Commons at Indian Lakes.
If built, the project would include the Indian Lakes Hotel and an existing restaurant. It also could include two new restaurants, two medical office buildings, and two buildings with retail and office space.
Bloomingdale officials have said First ILR would need to file a separate application for that development.
Whitaker said it would be "a fools' errand" to pursue the commercial component "without some productive use" of the former golf course property.