South Elgin planners OK Water’s Edge project
By Janelle Walker For The Courier-News January 17, 2013 2:08PM
Drawing of proposed River's Edge apartment building in South Elgin for disabled and income eligible residents. The village board approved the controversail project on a 5-1 vote.
Updated: February 19, 2013 3:01PM
SOUTH ELGIN — The planing and zoning commission has put its stamp of approval on plans for a controversial 50-unit apartment building that would bring special-needs and income-eligible residents together.
On a 4-2 vote, the commissioners approved the preliminary development plan for The Water’s Edge of South Elgin. 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 on the Fox River along Center Street would include 26 one-, two- and three-bedroom units for people with disabilities. The balance of units are designed for income-eligible residents, official said.
Following two public hearings held at Kenyon Woods Middle School — to accommodate large crowds of supporters and opponents of the building — the planning commission vote was held Wednesday night at village hall to a significantly smaller crowd.
The final design put in front of the commission on Wednesday included changes to the west elevation — the design features facing the Fox River and to the west.
“We wanted to address being visible from the river and across the river,” said Eric Pepa of Allen Pepa Architects, the project’s designers.
Brick and stone features were added to the west side along the river to make the building more attractive from that vantage point. Even though that is not required by village ordinance, it was requested by neighbors at the public hearings, Pepa said.
“We thought that it would be an appropriate compromise since the west side wasn’t considered right of way at all,” he said, meaning roadways the public would see the building from.
The brick and stone means that 61 percent of the building is wrapped in those products, Pepa said — not including stone wrapping the inside facade of its alcoves.
The two commissioners voting against the project — Leo Metz and Joe Cluchey — said it wasn’t the project they were against but its location.
“Location, location, location,” Metz said. “The changes and everything that you have made are very good and very responsive. The only thing I have reservations about is where it is placed … it should have been placed somewhere where you have more services for it.”
Cluchey said he felt a lot of building was going onto a very small spot.
“I have nothing against the project, other than there is so much in such a small and shrinking area,” Cluchey said.
Due to the need to add one sidewalk and widen Center Street to accommodate the project, the building’s actual acreage shrank, Cluchey said — increasing the building’s unit-per-acre density.
However, village staff noted, its density is actually lower than the nearby River Crossing condos, which have 45 units on one acre of land.
The village board is expected to hear the proposal at its Feb. 4 meeting, with a final vote at a subsequent meeting. To override a decision made by the planning commission, the board would need a super-majority vote, officials said.