News - DeKalb County

DeKalb panel backs comprehensive plan update despite some residents’ concerns over land use

DeKalb panel backs comprehensive plan update despite some residents’ concerns over land use

DeKALB – Despite concerns raised by some residents about land use, the city of DeKalb could be poised to move ahead with adopting a comprehensive plan update meant to help steer future development.

The plan is compiled in a 70-plus-page document generally used by municipalities for planning purposes to help steer and guide community leaders.

At Monday’s DeKalb Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, commissioners backed the comprehensive plan update in a 4-0 vote. The DeKalb City Council will need to have the final say on whether to adopt the measure, with its next regular meeting set for Aug. 22.

City Planner Dan Olson said the city has received a lot of written public comments from residents interested in providing feedback on the comprehensive plan update.

Since the initial open house in June, the city has strengthened the affordable housing language – as it’s presented in the document – along with encouraged smaller lots sizes and smaller homes.

Among those expressing support for the comprehensive plan update was Paul Borek, executive director for the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation.

“The plan and its land use map and its goals and objectives provide an excellent blueprint to guide future development in the city of DeKalb,” Borek said. “The land use maps designation of additional industrial areas, industrial sites on the city’s southeast side is most welcomed and timely. Investors, industrial businesses and international corporations are attracted to shovel-ready sites near the Peace Road interchange. … Again, these sites are very much in demand.”

Borek spoke of four major projects in the past three years in DeKalb, including Ferrara Candy Company, Meta DeKalb Data Center, Amazon and a yet unknown food and beverage facility. He said the four projects have contributed to development increases more than doubling over the past year.

But some residents had some reservations about the idea of the city moving ahead with the comprehensive plan update, as is.

DeKalb resident Keith Nyquist takes issue with the old Northern Illinois University art annex site that is currently eyed for a mixed-use development. He said potential development of the site could impact he and his neighbors’ property values for the worse.

The property in question located along Sycamore Road has been sold, to date.

Nyquist said he would like the panel to consider a land use map amendment.

“I understand a lot of work has gone into it,” Nyquist said. “But this would be a small amendment that would not affect the overall plan in front of you.”

Dave McCleary said the old NIU art annex site is directly adjacent to both he and Nyquist’s homes.

“We’re going to see a lot of issues with additional traffic [and] with lighting,” McCleary said. “It used to be that that was very, again, a secluded kind of dark very nice residential area. We now have a significant amount of light pollution, and again, additional traffic.”

But McCleary acknowledged that not all development is bad and said some of it has been positive.

“The neighborhood that we’re in has been directly affected in some ways good, in some ways not so good by the development that has taken place along Sycamore Road,” he said.

Olson said the city intends to make sure that any incoming project is compatible with surrounding uses.

“We’re going for mixed use – residential above, commercial at the bottom,” Olson said. “Or it could be all commercial or all residential. It’s going to require rezoning, so it requires notification to surrounding property owners to 250 feet, but that’s our recommendation for the land use.”