Just two days after a St. Charles City Council committee outright rejected one housing development and killed a key funding mechanism for another, a task force charged with crafting a guide for the city’s future growth ended its work on a draft comprehensive plan.
The Comprehensive Plan Task Force voted unanimously Wednesday night to recommend its 2013 draft plan to the St. Charles Plan Commission, which is expected to begin its review of the 113-page document. The task force’s action included changes it made as members gave one final review of the draft plan and after they listened to more public recommendations about changes to the proposal.
Key among those were in direct response to residents’ pleas as they related to the Corporate Reserve development, which the City Council Planning and Development Committee torpedoed Monday night, and to the Lexington Club, which suffered a serious blow in a split vote that night by the same committee.
The committee voted against a tax increment financing district for the Lexington project, although city officials noted Wednesday night that the city’s approval in May of the proposed land use for the Lexington Club development still stands, which means the project remains potentially viable if the developer can find a way to make up for the $6 million it had hoped to gain via the TIF for demolition, environmental cleanup of contaminants on the site and for site preparation.
Bothe the Corporate Reserve and the Lexington Club developments face a final vote before the City Council, which could come as early as Monday night for one or both projects.
It was in response to those two committee actions that prompted residents to speak out Wednesday about making changes to the draft comprehensive plant to reflect a change in the situation.
Until now, the task force has been reluctant to propose any suggested uses for the Corporate Reserve and Lexington Club sites. The task force sought to avoid making recommendations for those sites because any recommendations could have been rendered meaningless had the developments been approved before the comprehensive plan was finalized.
But Corporate Reserve may be a dead deal — at least for a full year — if the City Council reaffirms its committee vote this Monday, and neighboring residents asked the task force to recommend an alternative use for the site rather than high-density residential apartments.
The task force, in recommending the draft comprehensive plan, asked the Plan Commission to consider changing the land-use plan for the property to allow for single-family residential development — or even very specific types of multifamily development, such as a senior living facilities or housing to accommodate the disabled, options that residents in the area have suggested in the past.
The task force appeared reluctant to make significant recommendations about the Lexington Club site, if only because the city already has approved the site’s land-use plan.
The task force did react, however, to several requests that the wording used in regard to TIF districts be softened in light of the Lexington Club decision.
Two residents specifically pointed out that the city already owes about $36 million as a result of TIF projects, and that the comprehensive plan should not advocate further use of the funding mechanism.
While the task force did not remove references to the use of TIFs as a funding mechanism for development, it did strike from the plan phrases such as, for example, “should consider” in favor of “may consider” TIF districts.
Task force Chairman Mark Armstrong said the Plan Commission is scheduled to take up the 2013 draft Comprehensive Plan on Jan. 8. The Plan Commission intends to review the document over at least two meetings in January. Once its review is complete, the plan would be sent to the City Council Planning and Development Committee for consideration before it would be sent to the City Council for a formal public hearing and any final changes.
Wednesday’s meeting marked the conclusion of some 18 months of work by the task force, although it members have been urged to remain available to support the process as the draft moves through the Plan Commission and City Council processes.