Geneva aldermen, mayor unanimously vote down distribution facility annexation

Distribution facility tenant withdraws from Geneva project but applicant still sought annexation

GENEVA – Hours after the tenant of a proposed 278,000-square-foot distribution facility withdrew its interest, the Geneva City Council voted 11-0 against the 54-acre annexation agreement.

The vote, which included Mayor Kevin Burns voting, was met with cheering and applause from opponents of the project who packed the council chambers Oct. 18.

Residents of Chesapeake Commons and Fields of Geneva East subdivisions and 3rd Ward Aldermen Becky Hruby and Dean Kilburg were opposed to the plan as too intense with too much truck traffic.

Though it was never officially acknowledged, it was believed that Amazon was the applicant for the project proposed for the southeast corner of Division Street and Kirk Road in Geneva. The civil engineering firm for the of-record applicant, Crow Holdings, inadvertently had included the Amazon logo in its filing with the city.

“At 4:34 this afternoon, I received a phone call from the tenant of the proposed facility, otherwise known as Geneva Farms North. That tenant indicated to me that they are no longer interested,” Burns said to a response of wild cheering and clapping from a standing-room-only crowd.

However, Burns said he received a second phone call at 6:27 p.m., which informed him that city officials received confirmation from applicant Crow Holdings that it still wanted to have the public hearing on the application.

Burns said the public hearing was required under statutory and city ordinance.

Approval of the annexation agreement would include all aspects in Crow Holdings’ application to which residents had objected.

“Let the record show that if this is approved … this City Council would have very little, if any authority, to vote no on either the zoning or the PUD (planned unit development) or any other issue related to because in the annexation agreement, with an affirmative vote, we’re saying, ‘All that is contained therein, and related to, we approve,’ ” Burns said. “A no vote tonight – hypothetically speaking – means that we have discharged any consideration of those other items and have no need to address them.”

Burns said anyone else with an interest to develop that land would have to start over.

Burns also said there is no chance that St. Charles or West Chicago could annex that land and allow the development of a warehouse facility.

Several members of the public asked the council to vote against annexation, including Hendryk Riech.

“I ask you to vote no,” Reich said. “That way we can clear the path for something new and something better.”

Hruby praised the way the community came together to oppose the development.

“With what we have heard tonight, your voices have been resoundingly heard,” Hruby said to the crowd. “You guys have done an amazing job on research and showing dedication and caring about your community. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been so rewarding to see everything come together and everyone come together. So thank you.”

The City Council’s vote against the annexation agreement follows a recommendation to deny the applicant.

On Sept. 23, the Geneva 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 noise and traffic it said would be generated by the facility. All nine standards are required for the commission to recommend an annexation and rezoning application.