DeKalb panel supports rezoning plan to annex 21 acres into Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District

While questions were raised at recent community meeting, a DeKalb panel decided to throw its support behind the Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District and its request to rezone properties to Government Sanitary District.

Aerial drone image of Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District, DeKalb Sanitary District water treatment facility plant at 303 Hollister Ave, DeKalb, IL on Thursday, May 13, 2021.

DeKALB – A DeKalb panel this week backed a request made by leaders from the Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District calling for a rezoning meant to aid a plan to annex 21 acres near Interstate 88 into the district.

The DeKalb Planning and Zoning Commission voted 6-0 to approve the petition to rezone the district’s properties to Government Sanitary district. Commissioner Steve Becker was absent.

The DeKalb City Council will have the final say on the rezoning request at a later date.

Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District is looking to annex a 21-acre “south slope site” adjacent to the Interstate 88 tollway along Annie Glidden Road for potential future use.

Executive Director Mark Eddington addressed the panel, saying the district’s intent is simple.

“Over the years, we’ve maintained several different properties in several different zoning categories,” Eddington said. “We’re seeking to recategorize all our existing properties into one … GS zoning to kind of clean things up.”

In October 2022, DeKalb city leaders authorized an agreement stating that the city and the Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District will serve as co-equal units of government.

That means properties will be treated as a public or institutionally zoned property similar to Northern Illinois University.

City Planner Dan Olson said the rezoning is compatible with the city’s comprehensive plan.

“It will allow the district to function and continue their sanitary waste collection, disposal and all the regulations that they have to comply with,” Olson said.

Eddington said he’s had an opportunity to meet up and address concerns of some of the property owners who live in the Lawnwood and Woodlawn areas at a recent community meeting.

The property owners are neighbors to the Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District’s main facility at 1301 Sycamore Road.

Eddington said in the area converted to native prairies and wildfires, there’s a drainage ditch that goes back through some woods south of a service road.

“In any event, most of this area here is floodway,” Eddington said. “Like I told the folks we met with, we have no intention to do any building here in the future. It’s a floodway. Even if we wanted to build here, it would be very costly and difficult. So, I think, in general, they were very happy to hear we had no designs to build any structures closer to their property than we already are on the site.”

A group of property owners signed a letter of support for the district’s petition only to set forth a list of requests shared after having attended a recent community meeting. They include no future building expansions on the property adjacent to Woodlawn Drive and Lawnwood Avenue; the main facility may be improved; the “south slope site” will not serve entities outside of DeKalb County; the wildflower and butterfly repopulation areas will be reinstated and possibly improved; and the current trucking traffic from the district’s facility is from the local waste management and other DeKalb County communities that carry local waste that needs to be processed.

Members of the planning and zoning commission backed the district’s request.

But Eddington said there are some promises the district cannot make.

“While in generalities we agree with the five tenets of the letter, the reality is the sanitary district is bound by our mission to the [Environmental Protection Agency] and to the environment,” Eddington said. “The things we cannot predict are the future of wastewater treatment as technology gets better, as water quality standards are promulgated. We don’t have any intention of buying more property, but I can’t stand here and make a promise that the district won’t expand its footprint. … That’s not how I characterize the meeting and that’s not a promise I can make now.”

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