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St. Charles Shocker: Council OKs Lexington Club

But the vote on the contentious issue was divided, and Mayor Donald DeWitte cast the tie-breaking vote on each of the five measures.

A deeply divided St. Charles City Council on Monday night reversed course on the Lexington Club development, pushing through five ordinances that clear the path for the developer to proceed on a project that has proven contentious both for its scope and for its reliance on tax-increment financing.

Aldermen voted 5-5 on each of a series of motions, with Mayor Donald DeWitte casting the tie-breaking vote on each. As mayor, DeWitte seldom votes on issues — typically, the mayor and chairmen presiding over City Council committee meetings vote only to break a tie.

DeWitte said after the meeting his record on the Lexington Club project is well-established and that his vote should not have surprised anyone.

Those voting in favor of the five measures were 1st Ward Alderman Jon Monken, 2nd Ward Aldermen Clifford Carrignan and Rita Anne Payleitner, 4th Ward Alderman James E. Martin and 5th Ward Alderman Ed Bessner.

The council’s divided vote reflects not only how contentious the Lexington Club proposal has been, but reaction to it also indicated that the already politically charged issue will continue to be a factor in the 2013 Consolidated Election on April 9.

Monday night’s meeting was packed to a nearly standing-room-only crowd, but not all were there for the Lexington Club votes — a sizable contingent represented the Tri-City Chargers, whose team of 9- and 10-year-olds from St. Charles, Batavia and Geneva on Dec. 7 won the United Youth Football League’s national championship in Tampa, Fla. The City Council passed a resolution honoring the team for its accomplishment.

But the City Council Chambers still were crowded when the team left and aldermen began taking action on the Lexington Club ordinances.

The City Council on Dec. 10 voted 7-2 to reject the TIF for the Lexington Club project, with several members expressing dissatisfaction with a repackaging of the project to provide it with additional TIF funding, considered a linchpin to financing the project, whose cost is estimated between $40 million and $45 million.

Revisions to the Lexington proposal had increased the developer’s request for TIF funding reimbursements from $5.25 million for demolition, environmental remediation and site grading to $6.29 million — a level which aldermen rejected in December.

But in Monday, the developer returned with a revision knocking the TIF reimbursement request to $5.6 million.

The council approved three measures — one creating the Lexington Club TIF district, a second approving a TIF redevelopment plan for the site, and a third approving the TIF funding agreement with the reduced reimbursement proposed by the developer.

The City Council then formalized its May 2012 Planning and Development Committee vote by approving two ordinances related to the adoption of the planned-unit development and development agreement for the project, clearing the last hurdles for Lexington Club.

Twofold Opposition

Opposition to the project has fallen primarily on two fronts — one related to the TIF element, the second related to the land-use plan for the project.

Some residents had opposed the use of a TIF to support the project, fearing that despite St. Charles officials’ assurances to the contrary, that the city could end up shouldering an additional debt, as occurred with the 1st Street Project. City officials, however, have said that the TIF monies generated by the Lexington Club development cannot be reimbursed until after the work is done and the property has begun generating additional property tax revenue, ensuring the development would not saddle the city with additional debt.

Later in the evening, aldermen advanced a proposal to issued $27 million in general obligation bonds to refinance the debt on that project. The bond issue cannot proceed without formal City Council, which could come before the end of the month.

Perhaps the greater area of criticism of the Lexington Club development has come from those living in the area who had opposed the number of new homes planned at the site — about 100 two-story townhomes, as well as 27 single-family detached homes. Neighbors complained the number of homes was too high and should be scaled back or have other uses considered for the site.

Related:

  • Jan. 7, 2013: Lexington Club Vote Sparks Anger
  • Jan. 7, 2013: Review Jan. 7 Live-Blog Coverage of St. Charles Council
  • Dec. 10, 2012:

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Thomas Keating January 09, 2013 at 01:13 AM
As this is a done deal, I'd like to express some concerns re: traffic in the area of the development. If 120 more families are going to use 2nd Street as a major route to and from their subdivision, something has to be done about the congestion at 2nd and Main Street. Left turn lanes have to be added to that intersection. It's like something designed for Mayberry RFD right now, not a large and expanding town like St. Charles. There are properties on the NE and SW corners of the intersection that could be acquired for the purpose of adding left turn lanes. Consideration should also be given to adding a light at N 2nd Street and Timbers Trail (across from Boy Scout Island). It's hard enough right now to turn left onto N 2nd Street from Timbers Trail; this subdivision will only make matters worse.
David Amundson January 09, 2013 at 03:05 AM
Ted - Very much interested in meeting, and unless I'm missing something, statutory reasons do not impact the fact-finding I was able to do. I firmly believe that the existence of this TIF will result either in incrementally higher property taxes for everybody in town or it will result in governmental bodies being forced to make cuts to their services. I talked to enough folks in enough places (including the CFO of D303) to feel confident of this claim.
Craig Bobowiec January 09, 2013 at 03:24 AM
Thomas, I agree with your concerns, now think what our neighborhood streets which were never designed 80 years ago to accomdate street parking and two directional traffic. It barely can handle the current traffic and festival traffic. All these 120 families first have to get in and out of the neighborhood before they can even add traffic on 2nd St and Main St. How the council stuck the residents with these issues without a formal resolution that truly dealt with the traffic is beyond me and a failure of their duty to do so. In fact any street improvements which are minimal at best will not be funded by the developer until 1/2 the development is built out. For me that is a little late to then tear up streets furthering the problems while the improvements are installed which always take months. Again what were those who voted to approve this mess thinking????
Craig Bobowiec January 09, 2013 at 03:28 AM
Ms. Klinkhamer hit the nail directly on the head in her final statement "There is a much bigger story in relation to this project than meets the eye." It wasn't about right or wrong good or bad at all. The answers lie much deeper.
Steve Swanson January 10, 2013 at 01:38 AM
Although it will not help the residents near the former Applied Composites site now, the lame duck Mayor showed why it is a good thing that he will be leaving office. Can you imagine him actually staying in office if his actions reflect the following mind-set: screw the residents of the area who wanted a more appropriately sized development, disregard the petitioners and people who testified at hearing, completely disregard the City's 2012 Priorities Survey, which showed that residents did not feel that more housing was appropriate, and disregard the opinions of the Aldermen whose Ward includes the site. No wonder nobody wants him around anymore.

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