City addresses growth

By Nina Gougis

Population growth in the school district and local traffic density were two major concerns of the DeKalb Plan Commission as they discussed Wednesday the next update to the comprehensive plan.

The plan will address ways to deal with the district’s student growth and help determine the number of sites allocated to elementary, middle and high schools.

Although all of them have experienced steady growth, there has been a faster increase in enrollment in middle and high schools, city planner Ray Keller said.

Giving more money to middle and high schools could help deal with the significant student growth, he said.

Keller also said he expects three more elementary sites and one to two more middle school sites over the next 10-15 years.

The commission also discussed the possibility of trucks driving through downtown DeKalb to avoid toll increases on Interstate 88.

A significant number of trucks already go through South Annie Glidden and Peace Roads’ toll exits, Keller said. Although the number of trucks going through the downtown area is small compared to the tollway, the smaller space makes it more noticeable, he said.

Any changes, however, are likely to be temporary since the increased time and labor costs outweigh the benefits of not paying tolls, plan chair Rich Fassig said.

“Higher tolls might get people using Route 38 for a while thinking they will save money, but that will wear off,” Fassig said.

In addition, the commission approved the final plat and plan for Gardens of RiverMist Townhomes Unit 2, west of Sangamon Road and north of Spruce Drive.

The commission also discussed a plan for Grand Pointe Homes to build 180 townhomes on the east side of South Fourth Street between Manning and Fairview drives.

The commission suggested the units be spaced farther apart and the residential density be reduced from 12 units per acre to 6-8 units per acre.

This will help improve aesthetic quality of the development, which is important since it would be located near a state highway, Fassig said.

Rick Zirk, vice president of Grand Pointe Homes, said the landowner will need a certain number of units to raise a reasonable profit.

“We are trying to balance the needs of the landowner with the needs of the community,” Zirk said. “There is a way we can make it work.”

The next plan commission meeting will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 13 at the DeKalb Municipal Building, 200 S. Fourth St.