Over 300 new homes could be built in Woodstock. Neighbors and the plan commission aren’t thrilled

Residents express worry about traffic and aquifers, among other things

A protest sign along Lucas Road near the proposed Riverwoods neighborhood on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024. Many neighbors have opposed the housing development.

Megan Liebetrau’s backyard opens up to a large acreage of undeveloped land. Her view could soon be of a new housing development if a proposed subdivision in Woodstock is approved.

Riverwoods, the proposed development on the southeast side of Woodstock, would bring in nearly 250 single-family houses and 38 duplexes if the plan is fully built out.

The area currently is quiet and rural, with fields and horse farms dotting the landscape.

Liebetrau is among those living in the vicinity of the potential subdivision who have voiced their opposition to Riverwoods.

“A lot of it is environmental,” Liebetrau said about her concerns.

Her worries include the subdivision being built near a sensitive aquifer and flooding, among others.

Dave Brandt, who said he worked in soil science, told the Plan Commission last month about his concerns about building the development at the site. “You will get wet basements,” Brandt said.

Besides the environment, the residents also have concerns about the increased traffic the neighborhood could bring on Lucas Road, especially at the intersection of Lucas Road and Route 47. Currently, Lucas Road drivers have a stop sign, but Route 47 drivers do not.

Megan Liebetrau and Kellie Bucci stand near a field that could become the proposed Riverwoods neighborhood on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024. Many neighbors have opposed the housing development.

A traffic study commissioned by the developer and submitted to the city did not include an analysis of the intersection of Route 47 and Lucas Road.

“It’s not a safe intersection,” resident Jessica Rizza said.

Rizza submitted a letter to the plan commission that also addressed that corner, writing that she has “personally experienced many near-miss accidents and [has] witnessed accidents at this intersection.”

At the December meeting, the Woodstock Plan Commission voted 4-2 against the Riverwoods subdivision. But the City Council will have the final say on whether construction commences.

In response to an inquiry from the Northwest Herald, a spokesperson for Lennar, the Riverwoods developer, requested questions in writing but did not provide answers as of press time.

The plan commission heard a proposal for a development on the site in 2022, and according to city documents, Lennar’s plan did not include townhouses at that point.

However, a revised proposal presented last month include the 76 duplex units. The 17 acres on which the duplexes would be built, just north of Lucas Road, would have to be annexed into Woodstock.

Amber Bauman, of Valley View Acres,  is one of several residents upset with the proposed Riverwoods neighborhood on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024.

Some plan commissioners felt the duplexes didn’t really fit in with the development, with Commissioner Steve Gavers saying when the commission voted on the project last month that they “should be in town,” as opposed to on the outskirts of the city.

Woodstock officials mentioned in their State of the City address last year that the city needs more growth to attract more businesses such as Trader Joe’s and Target. The proposed development would bring in several hundred new residents, and city documents indicate that the development would bring in new tax revenue.

Woodstock has only had one single-family residential development proposal in the last 15 years – the Die Cast property near Clay and Church streets, according to city documents.

”New residential growth is essential to attract new businesses to the City and maintain a healthy, thriving community,” according to city documents.

Mayor Mike Turner said the City Council looks at a variety of things when reviewing developments, such as economic impact, among others.

“It’s multifaceted,” Turner said.

Turner said it hasn’t been determined yet when the plan will come before the council, but said it could be in March.