In 6-4 vote, Geneva aldermen grant delay to warehouse applicant for Geneva Farms North project

Hruby: ‘To make this request at this hour I think is unacceptable’

GENEVA – The applicant for Geneva Farms North, a proposed 278,000-square-foot distribution facility along the east side of Kirk Road, was given a delay Oct. 4.

The Geneva City Council now is scheduled to vote on the application Oct. 18.

Aldermen voted 6-4 on Oct. 4 to allow a ruling by Mayor Kevin Burns to grant a delay to the applicant.

After aldermen objected to taking up the issue on a school holiday Oct. 11, attorney Peter Bazos said the applicant accepted the later date.

The applicant also accepted terms that aldermen sought on behalf of their constituents that any updated or changed plans be filed by Oct. 11 so the public would have adequate time to prepare.

Before aldermen voted on Burns’ ruling, city attorneys Scott Fintzen and Ron Sandack conferred with attorney Charles Radovich, who has a law firm in Geneva.

“What [Radovich] said is that historically … if a petitioner has asked for time, we have always given the petitioner time. We haven’t forced them to go forward,” Fintzen said. “And that has been the practice of the council.”

However, the petitioner does not have standing to delay the action. So the three attorneys determined that the chair – Burns – made a ruling based on what the city has historically done, Fintzen said.

“The petitioner can request this and it can be granted,” Fintzen said. “There will be a debate amongst the council as to whether or not that objection to the ruling of the chair would stand or not stand. For it to stand requires a simple majority vote.”

Third Ward Aldermen Dean Kilburg and Becky Hruby challenged Burns’ ruling.

“I understand that we have recognized extensions in the past,” Kilburg said. “I’m just saying that … attempting to ask for an extension a few minutes before the beginning of a meeting after the official agenda of the meeting has been posted I think is a disservice to the public. And the extension should not be granted on those grounds.”

Hruby added the petitioner had 11 days since the last Planning and Zoning Commission meeting to change the proposal and ask for an extension.

“To make this request at this hour I think is unacceptable,” Hruby said.

First Ward Alderman Michael Bruno cautioned that the process will be more convoluted if officials do not approve an extension.

Fourth Ward Alderman Amy Mayer said she supported giving the applicant more time.

“I did have some questions submitted at noon today. I did not get all the answers yet,” Mayer said. “I felt rushed. I know that’s not what everyone in here wants to hear, but I’m an architect and I had to look at all the plans and there were some that were fuzzy and there were some that weren’t clear. I think that it’s fair to continue it.”

First Ward Alderman Tara Burghart said in six years on the council she can’t remember an applicant asking for a continuance or delay after the meeting has started.

Second Ward Alderman Bradley Kosirog said he thought the applicant wanted the delay so the plan could be reconfigured to make it more acceptable to the community.

Those voting to support Burns’ decision to allow a delay were Bruno, Kosirog, Mayer, 2nd Ward Alderman Richard Marks and 5th Ward Aldermen Craig Maladra and Robert Swanson.

Those voting to overrule Burns’ decision and not grant a delay were Kilburg, Hruby, Burghart and 4th Ward Alderman Gabriel Kaven.

Hruby continued to object, saying the applicant “has been pushing and pushing for a vote at both Planning and Zoning Commission meetings.”

“For eight and a half hours, I can’t count how many times I heard them say, ‘Can we vote?’” Hruby said. “They didn’t want to answer questions. They didn’t want to talk about things. They just wanted a vote. And now we’re here, we’re ready to discuss and ready to vote and you’re telling us you’re not ready? I’m sorry, I do not agree with the idea that this is even a possibility.”

Looming over the proposal is this question: Is Amazon the applicant?

Residents living near the site said there is no question that the mammoth e-commerce conglomerate is the entity planning to establish the facility, which is expected to generate more than 500 truck trips leaving the property every day.

The unnamed applicant is represented by Matt Kurucz, managing director of Crow Holdings Industrial in Chicago.

After the Sept. 23 Planning and Zoning hearing, when asked directly if Amazon is the applicant, Kurucz refused to say.

The Planning and Zoning Commission did not approve one of the nine standards for a special use zoning – that the development would have “an adverse effect or change the character of the area” – citing the noise and traffic they said would be generated by the facility.

Agenda items skipped in the Oct. 4 meeting will be on the agenda for Oct. 18, including a public hearing on the request for annexation of the land for the proposed facility to the city.