Sycamore declines growth proposal

By Richard Snowden

Sycamore City Council members have differing opinions as to why the proposed annexation of hundreds of new homes did not pass the council during its Oct. 3 meeting.

Although the plan received generally favorable reviews – all members of the council and some residents applauded the quality of B&B’s past work in Sycamore – council members Alan Bauer (First Ward), Barbara Leach (Third Ward), Grace Adee (Third Ward) and Darren Knuth (Fourth Ward) all said they voted down the proposal because their constituents preferred a slower pace for community development.

The proposal, put forth by Wolf Lake Development, a branch of B&B Development, would have added 738 new homes to Sycamore. Officially, the council shot down 81 homes, and the developer chose to remove the remaining annexations from the council agenda after the negative vote. The additional annexations would have amounted to 397 acres and 657 homes.

With close to 3,000 new homes slated for construction in Sycamore, Bauer also said the timing of the proposal played a role in his decision.

“A lot of people who talked to me about the issue said they felt we needed to slow the growth down,” he said. “The other main reason is the traffic along Plank Road. There’s already a lot of traffic along that route, and the subdivision would probably have made things worse.”

Despite voting against the proposal, Bauer offered a favorable assessment of the development plan.

“These are actually very well-planned subdivisions,” he said. “The developer’s commitment to the city, to our schools and parks, was solid, as well. I just think their timing wasn’t good.”

Alderman Pete Paulsen (2nd Ward), who voted in favor of the proposal, said he has rejected other development proposals in the past but believed this proposal was a good one.

“If we’re going to have development, it should pay for itself,” said Paulsen. “This was the first proposal I’ve seen in five years on the council that would’ve done that. It was nice to finally see a development plan that would provide our tax base with needed funds.”

Wolf Lake Development offered a $3,000-per-residence school impact fee, double the amount of the highest previous offer, which the council approved in February 2004 for the Sycamore Creek subdivisions.

Paulsen said he had concerns about how the proposal’s defeat would affect the area’s economy.

“We certainly want the economic development on the commercial and retail side of things, and you won’t attract businesses unless you have enough residents to work for them,” Paulsen said. “It’s a delicate balance and we take these issues very seriously.”

Sycamore residents’ concerns about the proposed development centered on worries the city might open itself up to too much development too quickly, Paulsen said.

“I think most of the objection was over the city growing too big, too fast,” he said. “The general consensus seems to be that people prefer slow growth.”

The council voted 5-4 in favor of pursuing the project, one vote short of the two-thirds majority required to approve annexations.