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Oswego OKs Orchard Rd. senior apartments : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Oswego OKs Orchard Rd. senior apartments
Village president casts tie-breaking vote after board deadlocks

by John Etheredge


A second three-story apartment building for senior citizens will be constructed off Orchard Road in Oswego as a result of action taken this past week by the village board.

Village President Brian LeClercq cast the tie-breaking vote on the motion to approve the preliminary and final development plans for the second phase of the Diamond Senior Apartment project along the south side of Lewis Street, just east of Orchard Road.

Board members Gail Johnson, Judy Sollinger and Pam Parr cast ballots in favor of the plans, while board members Tony Giles, Terry Michels and Scott Volpe cast the negative votes.

Oswego Senior Apartments LP (limited partnership) is the project developer.

According to information presented to the board by Rod Zenner, the village's community development director, the 63 unit apartment building will be constructed on a 2.76 acre parcel immediately south of the existing 60 unit apartment building constructed as part of the project's first phase three years ago.

Like the existing building, the new apartment building will be clad in three toned bricked and siding and have a gable roof. The building will have a total of 65,809 square feet and include 50 one-bedroom apartments and 13 two-bedroom apartments.

A parking lot with 93 spaces will be located immediately west and north of the building, according to project plans.

Dan Kramer, a Yorkville attorney representing the developers, said the building has an estimated construction cost of $15 million.

As with the existing building, the developers are seeking federal tax credit financing for the project through the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), the state's housing finance agency. This financing method serves to reduce the debt that developers have to borrow. As a result of the lower debt, the developers can offer lower rents to qualified tenants. Developments, financed with tax credits, serve households earning 60 percent or less of the area median income. However, rents are restricted so they don't exceed 30 percent of household income, according to the IHDA.

Kramer said his clients are currently seeking IHDA financing for the second building.

Prior to voting, board member Tony Giles questioned the developer's request for a $1,000 per unit reduction in the village's water connection or "tap on" fee.

LeClercq confirmed the developers were requesting that the water tap on fees for the apartments be reduced from $7,200 to $6,200 per unit.

LeClercq noted the board agreed to the same reduction when approving the construction of the first building three years ago.

He said the village raised its water connection fees from $6,200 to $7,200 while the plans for the first building were under review.

"I think for a single tap on fee for the village to charge some $300,000 is probably the highest that is going to be charged in the state of Illinois," LeClercq said.

Giles noted that the village typically does not reduce water tap on fees for subdivisions that are developed over a period of many years.

Referring to LeClercq's comments, Giles said, "That sounds like more of a philosophical issue. How much should we charge for a large complex like this?"

Sollinger said she supported the fee reduction request.

"My position is that since this is the second phase of the project it should probably be $6,200 (per unit). That was the rate when they (the developers) brought their plans to the village."

"I understand," Giles said, "But why don't we take care of these things at the appropriate time? Why aren't we told that we're looking at a (multi) phase plan and this is what we're looking at the for the fee structure?"

"That's a good question," LeClercq said.

Volpe said he had met with residents of the existing building and they have had issues with water, heat and a lack of parking spaces.

Volpe noted residents are concerned about the shortage of parking spaces, especially for handicapped individuals near the building.

He questioned whether the board had to approve the plans that evening or if they could wait to allow the developers to address the residents' concerns.

"It just doesn't seem like this whole process has been well thought out," Volpe said.

Kramer told Volpe his clients were facing a deadline this past week to file paperwork for their financing with the IHDA.

He also noted that all public hearings on the project plans had been posted on the site and legal notices for those hearings had been published in the Ledger-Sentinel as required under state law.

Concerning Giles' comments, Kramer said his clients had not requested a reduction earlier in the water connection fees on the second building due to the uncertainty over the availability of the federal tax credits.

Responding to Volpe's comments, Kramer said the limited parking at the existing building has been an "eye opener" for his clients and they have increased the size of the parking lot for the second building by 25 spaces to a total of 97.

In a memo to the board Rod Zenner, the village's community development director, said village staff supports the proposed parking plan for the second building, noting that it should help alleviate the existing parking space shortage.

Referring to the developers, Zenner explained, "Their previous project to the north provided 45 parking spaces for 60 units...Staff estimates that another 13 vehicles park in drives and adjacent streets to gain access to the existing building. Establishing this observed ratio as a guide, the parking demand would be 58 spaces for 60 units, or a demand of 0.96 (vehicles) per unit. For the proposed 63 unit building, the parking demand would be 61 spaces.

"The proposed 99 parking spaces would accommodate the parking demand of the proposed building (61) and the overflow parking of the existing building (13) and still have 25 available parking spaces. Therefore, staff would recommend approval of the proposed parking supply," Zenner concluded.

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