Apartments on church-owned land rejected by Crystal Lake council despite downsizing

Council members would like to see Immanuel Lutheran property be single-family homes

The 15 two-story buildings will hold 312 apartments with a mix of one, two and three bedroom units at 295, 345 and 395 Pathway Court. The complex also proposes to have a clubhouse with an outdoor pool, fitness area, community room and a dog run.

The Crystal Lake City Council has rejected a plan to construct an apartment complex on Immanuel Lutheran Church land near downtown Crystal Lake even after developers downsized their proposal by 40 units.

The city council denied the rezoning request and development plan in a 3-4 vote Tuesday night. That was despite the fact the revised proposal dropped from 15 buildings with 312 apartments to 13 buildings with 272 units. The apartments were planned to be a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units at 295, 345 and 395 Pathway Court, according to city documents, with a clubhouse with an outdoor pool, fitness area, community room and dog run. Rents would range from $1,750 to $2,000 a month, Three Leaf Partners Chief Development Officer John Ford said.

Last month, the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission gave the project a thumbs down in a 4-2 vote against recommending the rezoning request. The city council requested a continuance earlier this month asking developers to decrease the density.

The property, north of the Crystal Lake Jewel-Osco, surrounds and is owned by Immanuel Lutheran Church. The church partnered with Three Leaf to develop the property, Ford said.

Developers had requested that the 24-acre site be rezoned from R-2 single-family residential to R-3B multifamily. They also requested a density variance from the maximum of nine units per acre to 11.4 units per acre, which dropped from the original 13.1 units per acre request. Removing the two buildings also increased the buffer to the north single-family homes from 50 feet to 386 feet.

The project was estimated to generate $1.15 million annually in tax revenue for the city, Three Leaf Partners Vice President of Development and Acquisition Jordan Michalkiewicz said.

Many residents showed support for the project at the meeting by wearing Immanuel Lutheran shirts. Michalkiewicz said he asked for supporters to not speak at the meeting since they already shared their views at the May 7 meeting.

But the project was also met with opposition, with many residents voicing concerns on increased population, traffic. Resident Sara Joswiak said she wants to see developments to stay within the single-family residential zoning.

“I think that our zoning laws are here for a purpose and that purpose is not to make money,” she said “I am scratching my head to understand why this project is moving through like a bulldozer even though all the neighbors in the surrounding area overwhelmingly do not support this.”

No developers approached the church to build single-family homes in the 20 years the land has been for sale, Immanuel Lutheran Senior Pastor Larry Tieman said. Senior housing, low-income housing and an entertainment venue were projects proposed to the church, but were all turned down because they didn’t seem “viable” to the land, he said.

With the 99-unit apartment building Enclave and the developing Water’s Edge complex, Mayor Haig Haleblian said he would like to see how successful those projects are before going forward with this proposal, though he did vote in favor of the rezoning.

Council member Brett Hopkins said he liked the project, but ultimately worried about how the rezoning could impact neighbors.

“This is a land use issue,” he said. “It just doesn’t seem like this is the right use for this property.”

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