Sycamore council approves annexation

By Justin Gallagher

The scene at Monday’s Sycamore city council meeting was the same as two weeks ago, but the outcome was very different.

Both meetins consisted of heated exchanges over whether the city should annex a 740-home, three-part subdivision. This time, it passed.

It was a matter of vision and what the city is to become years from now. Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy cited the results of eight focus groups as proof that the council made the right decision – proactive “aggressive annexation” is what residents said characterized Sycamore growth. A 7-2 vote sealed the deal for B&B Development’s ambitious subdivision plan.

Those following the issue will remember the 5-4 vote that defeated the plan two weeks ago. Legally, for the ordinance to come back, an alderman that voted nay had to announce his or her reconsideration – First Ward Alderman Allan Bauer was that person.

For Bauer, the revised plan had two key points: Much of the development’s construction timeline was pushed back until 2010, and the proposed middle-school development will stay on schedule.

The subdivision is unlike most others the city is presented with, Mundy said. For one, 26 percent, or 103 acres of the 430, are slated “green,” either as park, pond, or recreation areas.

The single-family homes will be phased in over 10 years beginning in 2008. Of the 201 lots originally planned for the 2007-09 period, 121 will still be built before 2010 under the new plan.

But that wasn’t enough for Fourth Ward aldermen Darren Knuth and Grace Adee, Third Ward city council member.

“We ought to start taking care of our farm land,” Adee said. “It’s the richest in the world, and we really need to save it.”

Sycamore’s history is steeped in agriculture, she said, and the council’s decision disregards that history.

But many argued change is imminent and it’s the direction the council chooses that ultimately defines the fate of Sycamore, not history.

“What you vote for today will affect our children,” Sycamore business owner Michelle Schulz said. “Don’t ruin what is a good thing – let’s get on with the future.”

Sycamore resident Greg Taylor narrowed his opinion a bit more, saying the council’s decision would send a clear message to prospective businesses. He said without evidence of stable, consistent growth, commercial interests may be discouraged.