Fox River Grove is moving forward with a developer’s plans to build a 110-unit apartment neighborhood near Route 22 even though the planning and zoning commission said the petition should be denied.
On May 17, Fox River Grove trustees listened to a presentation by Redwood Apartment Neighborhoods, then asked village staff bring appropriate ordinances and documents so the project could be approved at an upcoming meeting.
The preliminary plat calls for 110 units with each single-story home having two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a two-car garage and a back patio, said Kellie McIvor, Redwood’s vice president of acquisitions.
The site plans also call for 60% open space, most of which would be on the south portion of the site where a wetlands is currently located, McIvor said.
“it’s a really good fit for this location,” McIvor said. “The area is really well situated for a medium density neighborhood.”
McIvor described the aesthetic, which is consistent across Redwood homes, as providing “an attractive warm neighborhood streetscape” that would also be visible to drivers along Route 22.
Redwood’s expects the neighborhood would appeal to empty-nesters and those looking to age-in-place in Fox River Grove and the surrounding area, McIvor said. McIvor noted that the average age of a Redwood renter is 51 and 70% of the company’s renters never had children or no longer have children living with them.
Redwood’s projections of the neighborhood demographics and the low number of kids who’d be added to the school systems is based on a sample size of over 14,000 homes within Redwood’s portfolio, McIvor said.
Several residents spoke during Tuesday’s meeting, asking the trustees to either reject the proposal or take a more rigorous approach before approving the plans.
“I want to see the village grow,” said Fox River Grove resident Chris Gantz. “But Fox River Grove is just not ready. There have been numerous failures of planning and oversight on recent projects, and that requires the village to take a step back.”
Gantz asked for more village resources — the village current has a part-time building and zoning service — for expanded guidance and enforcement of codes for new building projects such as Redwood.
“We keep compromising, and for what gain? If we follow minimum standards, we will get a minimum result,” Gantz said.
Gantz added that he was not against Redwood building a neighborhood, but that he wanted it to be “best we’ve ever had in Fox River Grove” as there is limited space within the village for further growth opportunities.
Another resident, Ken Witek, said he did not believe Redwood’s projection for eight children in the new neighborhood to be accurate, and wondered how the neighborhood would affect local school districts and increase local property taxes.
McIvor defended Redwood’s ability to manage traffic issues by saying that safety was important to the company and it had faith in the Illinois Department of Transportation’s ability to recommend appropriate road improvements.
Redwood’s proposal also comes at a time the village is dealing with controversy around another residential project: a partially-constructed apartment building at 401 Algonquin Road has sat idle since January and a contractor is now claiming the developer won’t pay them. Several residents have also contended in recent months that the existing structure was not reviewed by the local fire department.
Additionally, plans for a mixed-use proposal along Route 14 have raised questions over whether the town acquiring the property was an appropriate application of eminent domain.
The majority of the village trustees evidently thought the developer had sufficiently addressed concerns for the time being or expressed support outright.
“I fully support this project,” village president Marc McLaughlin said. “We need this. It’s something we don’t have and it will be an excellent asset.”