Developer asks school fee cut for apartments : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Developer asks school fee cut for apartments|
|School district board members question projections; no vote taken|
|by Lyle R. Rolfe|
Several years ago, a proposal was made to construct 906 apartments at the northwest corner of Orchard Road and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway track, north of Mill Road in Oswego but it never got off the ground.
This week, it re-appeared before the Oswego School District Board when Attorney Richard M. Guerard of Wheaton, who represented property owner Don Morris, asked that various development fees be reduced so the project could become a reality.
The project would occupy about 69 acres of land. According to the proposal, 50 acres would be for the light manufacturing and 18.6 acres for the housing units.
Guerard said Morris has submitted a concept plan for the project to the village.
Project plans call for the construction of 299 one-bedroom apartment units, 516 two-bedroom units and 91 three-bedroom units.
In a memo to School Superintendent Dr. Matthew Wendt, Guerard said, "A few years back, prior to the current village board, school board, and administrators, we believe an unofficial agreement was reached regarding the fees for the proposed 906 unit apartment project."
He said they had agreed on a fee structure of $7,200 per unit for water fees, and $1,400 per unit for Fox Metro fees for a total fee of $8,600 per unit.
Also at that time, the village was interested in purchasing 15-acres of the land adjoining the railroad tracks from Morris to be used for parking for a future Metra commuter train station. The purchase price of the train station land was to be approximately $4.5 million (based on an appraisal) and was to be financed by a municipal bond issue, Guerard said in his letter.
He added that the apartment developer was satisfied with the $8,600 per unit fee, and entered into an agreement to purchase the land from Morris subject to completion of the rezoning to multi-family. But, because of a weak economy, and lack of sufficient support from the village board, that contract expired and will now need to be re-written once there is a firm commitment relating to the fees, he said in his letter to Wendt.
Guerard also noted that the apartment developer is still interested in pursuing the purchase of the land for the apartment project. Late in 2012 the village board advised Morris that they were now in favor of the project moving forward, he said.
As an incentive to the village to reduce the fees, Guerard said Morris agreed to transfer, at no cost to the village, up to 15 acres of land for the train station.
Guerard said they need the support of the school district to keep the fees as low as possible. As fees increase from $8,600, it will become more difficult to finalize a sale to the apartment developer, he said.
He wrote in his letter, "We understand that it will be difficult, or impossible, for the school board to waive 100 percent of the usual fees. Therefore we would request that the fees be reduced to $906,000, or $1,000 per unit.
Monday evening, Guerard first appeared before the school district's Citizens Advisory Finance and Operations Committee before moving into the regular school board meeting to make the same presentation to board members.
In his presentations, he contended the project would more than pay for itself. It would have a large positive fiscal impact for the school district, he said.
He noted that if occupied by 121 school-age children the project would produce a net revenue above expenses of just over $2 million on an annual basis. With 60 school-age children, it would produce a net revenue of $2.5 million on an annual basis, he added.
"If the project can be developed sometime in the near future within the existing zoning, it will produce a net revenue above expenses of $616,836 on an annual basis," he said.
At its current use of farmland, the property produces an annual revenue of less than $5,000, Guerard said.
He also said the waiver of impact fees would, during the next 20 years, result in a net revenue increase for the school district of $38.6 million.
Guerard said "the project would create jobs and would have a multiplier effect increasing tax revenue by new households and local spending for much needed commercial support of Oswego businesses."
However, Lee Hoffer, a former school district board member and current finance committee member, said many of the older studies are no longer realistic.
He said the single-family housing market has fallen off so people are moving into apartments meaning the number of children coming from them would be much higher. It could reach several hundred children who would have to be educated in the school district, reducing any revenue the school district would receive, he said.
Greg O'Neil, committee and school board member, said the projections "are all over the board."
"They can range from the numbers they're talking about up to two or three kids per apartment, depending on what city, what area, and the economy,"_he said. "There's a whole lot of factors that go into that and now that people can no longer afford home ownership in Kendall County, things have changed."
He noted that the American Planning Association stated that over time, it's highly probable that the student population in these apartment houses will increase dramatically.
O'Neil asked if the school board would have any discussions with village officials on the project.
Board President Bill Walsh said they would not but added that the district's legal counsel said the district should have their own discussions with the property owners. He said they could hold the discussion in closed session if the board wants to.
The committee or school board made no decision or recommendation.