All four candidates running to retain their seats on the Spring Grove Village Board have some commonalities.
They all have served on the village’s Planning and Zoning Commission previously. Three out of the four were originally appointed to their seats after either the resignation or death of a previous board member.
There are three four-year seats and one two-year seat up for election on April 4. All four candidates are incumbents running to retain their positions.
The biggest issues facing the village now, they said, was continuing to expand the village’s water system and in turn using that system to attract more businesses.
Mike Gajewski was appointed to the Village Board eight months ago when Trustee Kelly Popelka was named the new village clerk. Before that appointment, Gajewski was the Planning and Zoning Commission chairman.
For the past two years, the board has been working to expand the village water system and water infrastructure overall. “It will allow us to grow and develop property that was not connected to water” previously, Gajewski said.
A majority of existing Spring Grove homes are on 1-acre lots, as mandated by village ordinances, and on well and septic.
That will not change, said Katie Fitzgerald, also running for one of the four-year terms. She served on the architectural review committee and the Planning and Zoning Commission before being appointed to Trustee Thomas Sanders’ seat after his July 1 death.
“Right now the water supply is gong to commercial properties,” Fitzgerald said.
The board doesn’t currently have any plans, she said, “to put existing homes on the water supply or force future homes” to connect to village systems.
That does not mean that if a developer came to Spring Grove seeking a multi-family townhome or similar project, they could not consider connecting those to the water system, said Mike Lee, who is running to fill the open two-year seat.
“I don’t think there is anything the village shouldn’t be look at it. Saying no before (a developer) comes to down isn’t a good strategy for me,” Lee said.
He hears from older residents who might not want to continue maintaining an home on a one-acre lot but want to stay in Spring Grove, Lee said. “Younger residents, they want a smaller place to live.”
Jeffrey Letzter agreed that different types of housing may be needed in Spring Grove. “A lot of the board members would be wiling to look at nice, upscale, higher density (units). Empty-nesters would like to stay in the village and not be burdened with maintenance ... as we age in place.”
Letzter was appointed to the Village Board in 2015, then ran for a two-year term in 2017 and was reelected in 2019. Again, he served on the Planning and Zoning Commission prior to 2105.
Expanding water and sewer services for Spring Grove had a large price tag and takes a lot of work, Letzter said. Payoff for the work is seen with the addition of a Casey’s convenience store and a Walgreen’s.
“Having water available really helps the corridor, to bring (buildings) up to date,” Letzter said.
CORRECTION: This article has been updated to clarify the Spring Grove Village Board’s position on requiring existing and future homes to hook up to the village’s water system. The board doesn’t currently have any plans, Trustee Katie Fitzgerald said, “to put existing homes on the water supply or force future homes” to connect to village systems.