Vote delayed on controversial apartment plan
By Janelle Walker For The Courier-News December 20, 2012 3:46PM
Updated: January 22, 2013 6:29AM
SOUTH ELGIN — A planning and zoning commission vote on a controversial 50-unit apartment building on the Fox River was delayed by another month.
Saying they wanted more information before a final vote, commissioners tabled discussion and action to the Jan. 16 meeting.
About 50 people attended a public hearing Wednesday night at Kenyon Wood Middle School to hear more about the proposed building. It was a continuation of a previous public hearing held at the school on Nov. 14.
The Sterling-based Burton Foundation — a nonprofit group that constructs affordable-housing apartments — has partnered with the Association for Individual Development to bring the apartment building to South Elgin.
The proposed development would include one-, two- and three-bedroom units. About half of those would be set aside for people with disabilities, and half are planned for income-eligible residents, officials said.
While almost every speaker — both for and against the building — said they see the need for these units in the village, it is the location opponents said they oppose.
In addition to those speaking against the building, Wednesday’s public hearing included several people who supported the project.
Peggy Fetting and her 35-year-old son, Brian, were two of those who spoke in favor of the development. Brian is developmentally disabled and has been on the waiting list for housing since he turned 21, Peggy Fetting said.
As she ages, Peggy Fetting said, she is unsure what will happen to her son. While he does work bagging groceries, he cannot live on his own, she said.
“We want him in a group home in our hometown,” Peggy Fetting said.
Mike Kenyon, a Kane County Board member, also spoke in favor of the development. There is interest in this project from not only the county board but also Springfield and Washington, D.C., he said.
“Tonight, we are looking at a project that has two aspects to it — affordable housing and housing for those who have special needs,” Kenyon said.
Because 46 percent of veterans make less than $30,000 a year, those are the types of low-income residents who would be attracted to the building, he said. “Would you deny a veteran the right to rent a house in this place? This is a place for people to begin their lives,” Kenyon said.
It is his fear that due to the opposition, the Burton Foundation would “throw up its hands” and walk away, Kenyon said. “We need this housing.”
The building’s developers have made several changes to plans to respond to both community development and neighbor concerns, including moving a Dumpster location, and showing lighting and landscaping plans to shield the building from the street.
They are asking, however, for a variance on parking because none of the AID clients can drive cars. Their clients are also ambulatory and do not need special transportation other than a Pace bus or a bike, officials from AID said.
One opponent listed several other locations of similar lot sizes that could be ideal. Those locations are on busy arterial streets.