Development Committee Minutes
VILLAGE OF NORTH AURORA
DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE MEETING
WEDNESDAY, September 20, 2017
CALL TO ORDER
Trustee Guethle called the meeting to order at 8:30 a.m.
Committee Members in attendance: Trustee Mark Gaffino, Trustee Laura Curtis, Trustee Mark Guethle.
Staff in attendance: Steve Bosco, Village Administrator; Mike Toth, Community and Economic Development Director; Cindy Torraco, Exec. Assistant. David Hansen, Administrative Intern, Jim Biibby, Village Engineer; Dale Berman Village President; John Laskowski, Public Works Director;
Others Present: Mark Fields, D R. Horton, Developer; James Griffin Schain Banks, Attorney for Developer; Charles Hanlon; WPK Engineering, Engineer for the Developer
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion: Motion to approve the August 16, 2017 Development Committee Minutes made by Trustee Guethle and seconded by Trustee Gaffino
All in Favor – Motion Approved
1. Fox Valley Golf Course concept plan review by D. R. Horton, Developer
Mike Toth gave a brief overview of the Lincoln Valley on the Fox development concept plan submitted by D. R. Horton. Toth noted this was just a review and not a public hearing, and that the Developer is here to get feedback from the Development Committee. At a future date there would need to be a public hearing scheduled, and the public would be notified. The Public Hearing process would be where the Developer would need to meet the various requirements for any zoning, map amendments, etc.
Toth noted the plan is comprised of 400 units including single family homes, duplex homes and townhomes. Toth noted this is a second plan revision after review by staff, and he noted staff is working with the developer with regard to tree preservation, detention and topographical issues, noting that the plan will be subject to change pending those items being addressed.
Mr. Griffin, legal representative for the developer, introduced DR Horton and the members representing the developer. He explained that D. R. Horton has a contract with City of Aurora for the purchase of the subject property and noted this development is being planned as an age-targeted community, and the plan will require approval from the Village of North Aurora. He noted that Mr. Mark Fields, of D. R. Horton, will provide a brief background on the company and will identify the market and the product they plan to build. Charles Hanlon, engineer for the developer, will review the site plan.
Mr. Fields, D. R. Horton, noted D. R. Horton is the Nation’s largest home builder build and they build under four brands: D. R. Horton (higher end homes), Express (starter homes), Freedom (age-targeted such as they are proposing for this development) and Emerald (higher end). He noted that they are committed to building quality homes. D. R. Horton has had success in understanding the process of putting together developments and have many repeat customers. They are actively selling in 17 communities in Chicagoland. They have previously build under the Cambridge brand. He noted their age-targeted communities are similar to Carillon Communities in Naperville and Aurora. D. R. Horton is also currently building in Windstone Place in North Aurora.
Mr. Fields noted that he grew up in Batavia and parents were residents of North Aurora. He also spent many years golfing at the Fox Valley Golf Club. He noted that the east side has interesting challenges and they are excited to work through them, with regard to the topography and grade transitions, as well as working through the preliminary engineering. We want to provide a concept plan that is supported by the Village and he acknowledged that this was not an easy site to plan and develop.
Mr. Fields spoke on the active adult lifestyle concept, noting this is not an assisted living or health home care development, but rather active buyers who may still be working and looking forward to retirement. He provided highlights of the Fox Valley area that would appeal to this type of buyer including activities and medical facilities. He noted that age-targeted buyers are looking for pride of ownership without obligation to mow lawns or shovel snow. They are looking for an on-site neighborhood lifestyle with clubhouse and activities, with lakes / ponds and open space, along with sidewalks and trails. A community with planned uses for passive areas, parks and open space. He noted they can satisfy a majority of these needs for this market, and keep local residents in North Aurora.
Mr. Fields provided an outline of the three product types they are proposing. He noted this is a blend of detached single family ranch homes, with a mix of walkout and standard basements, and options for a second story that would range from 1600 to low 2000 square feet. The second product would be a duplex product, an attached living environment with a shared wall. This would present a lower maintenance situation, with the materials and construction of the roof and siding, etc. The duplex product would range from 1400 to 1600 square feet. The third product is a triplex or townhome – a mix of 3 and 4-unit buildings that would range from 1500 to 1800 square feet. These age targeted products would allow for owners to easily lock and leave for travel, without any maintenance concerns. There would be a master Homeowner’s Association (HOA) with each specific product line having a sub-association for building maintenance. D. R. Horton is planning a development with a positive appearance that will be well maintained and provide for a nice streetscape. The adult buyer we are targeting will be looking for a builder who prides themselves on this.
Mr. Fields asked the committee if they had any questions prior to reviewing the land plan. Toth noted the Committee should take note that the townhome units are facing inward, and there would only be one curb cut per building, which minimizes the curb cuts in the development and creates a courtyard environment.
Trustee Curtis had concerns with this multi-product development and noted ten years down the road she wondered about the maintenance and upkeep of the development. Mr. Fields noted that the architectural guidelines and HOA requirements would dictate what and how modifications can be done to the home. Curtis also noted that the parcel is too small for 400 units and noted she is not seeing the clubhouse or walking trails on the concept plan. Mr. Fields noted that with the current plan, the majority of pedestrian movement would be along the sidewalks, and as we move into the plan discussion, we can look at asphalt walking paths.
Trustee Guethle asked for clarification on what age-targeted means. Mr. Fields noted that age-targeted is not the same as age restriction. Restricted communities require buyers to be 55 and up where age-targeted is predominantly a profile for a specific lifestyle, such as age targeted for 55 and up generally would not be a buyer with young children. The product would have restricted yard size that would not accommodate the needs of a family with kids, with restricted yard sizes and restricted storage areas. The design and layout would not generally work for family life. An amenity package would be tied to a more active adult community and adult lifestyle. This however, does not restrict a family from buying, however he noted that it occurs, however, it is seldom.
Trustee Gaffino asked about the HOA and maintenance. Mr. Fields noted the builder would subsidize the HOA until a certain number of buyers makes the HOA self-sufficient. The HOA would be responsible for maintaining the easements, sidewalks, yard mowing and snowplowing. With the single-family homes, the home maintenance would be responsibility of home owner but they would be subject to rules of HOA and Architectural review.
Steve Bosco pointed out that main roads would be plowed by the Village, and the HOA would be responsible for driveways and courtyards.
Trustee Gaffino was concerned with the side yard of the townhomes. The townhomes would front each other and create a courtyard, resulting in the sides facing south abutting the buffer area and tree preservation area. Toth noted that the south facing side yard would actually be treated as a rear yard setback, and therefore, require more space than the typical side yard setback.
Trustee Curtis asked about the price point for the various home products. Mr. Fields noted it was early in the plan to know for certain, but estimated that the price could be from the low $200’s to the high $300’s depending on the products. Trustee Curtis also asked about the finished product, noting the type and quality of materials should be at a certain level, noting vinyl floors and laminate counters would not provide the same quality as granite counters and wood floors. Mr. Fields noted that relating to interior finishes, it would be up to the buyers decide how they would spend their money. Some would pick a laminate package, while others would select a higher end granite package. Trustee Guethle noted, if this is an age-targeted community, it would most likely not the first time home buyer and they would most likely opt for higher quality finishes.
Toth noted that the Village does not have any rental requirements in the code and asked if the HOA would address rentals. Mr. Fields noted that typically when an HOA is drafted they don’t put a lot of restrictions on how long a home needs to be occupied and as a builder we try to limit that underlying restrictions for a home owner.
Chuck Hanlon with WBK Engineers provided a review of the land plan and highlighted some of the changes that had been modified after the initial reviews by staff. He noted this was a parcel that is just over 100 acres with an overall site design that can blend with conditions surrounding the property. The developer is seeking zoning changes and variations based on the standards that they have proposed. The plan shows single-family homes to the north, with a primary entrance off of Banbury Road, with landscaping on both sides of road before approaching the single-family lots.
Mr. Hanlon outlined that topography grid patterns, from Elgin to Aurora, are comprised of hills and elevation changes, creating a third dimension which doesn’t come through when looking at gridlines on a plan. He noted that this plan fits right into that. He noted that the comments received from the staff were addressed. Further, he noted a secondary entrance from the south, requires a turn to get to the homes, and this would avoid a raceway and break up the street. Hanlon also noted that they appreciate the input and will address the open space between the single family homes and duplex homes, and could work a trail into the plan with a crossing to the west for access to the Fox River Trail.
Mr. Hanlon noted the plan shows that the townhomes are turned 90 degrees from the townhomes on Ridge Road, which creates the courtyard effect that benefits the current residents to the south. The plan also seeks to preserve the line of trees on the south property line. The storm water management is illustrated in blue and is a concept plan, and the topography report will dictate where the detention or retention ponds would need to be. The plan also preserves open space. The access point on south River Street would lead to the clubhouse with landscaped area as part of the aesthetics.
Trustee Curtis was concerned with the lot sizes for the three areas on the plan and what the current zoning is. Toth noted the landscaped area along Route 25 would have to be preserved as a 50-foot landscape easement. They are looking to rezone to R1, R2, and R3 for each section of the development. Toth noted, we are using Randall Highlands as example in keeping with the zoning for the underlying use of property. Trustee Curtis is concerned that when looking at 40% departure from the use of this land, she doesn’t think it looks right for this parcel. Mr. Hanlon noted the issue is in this market, people don’t exactly want larger lots and said the Village’s ordinance most likely does not address age-targeted development and lot size. Trustee Curtis noted for an active community, there doesn’t seem to be much active space to bring the lifestyle outside. She has seen communities that work and those that don’t work, and feels that this is not the right concept for the Village. She noted the need and understanding for the 55 and older concept, but doesn’t like the lack of open space and the higher density. Further, if the Village considers a variance for the density, she would like to see more open space. Mr. Hanlon noted that they appreciate the Committee’s comments, however, some of the lifestyle aspects are about maintenance downsizing.
Trustee Gaffino asked Jim Bibby about the access on Route 25 and if this would be the only access, there could be issues with traffic and getting in and out without a traffic signal. Bibby noted that everything would need to be studied by IDOT and improvements will need to be made in order to work with IDOT. This development most likely would not have people all leaving at the same time at 7:00 in the morning, and that would probably not add to existing traffic, however will need improved lighting at the entrance, and there might be a 20 second delay to get out. Trustee Gaffino asked about the street size and Toth noted the streets would be standard, with sidewalks on one side and a 60 ft. R.O.W. for a slightly lesser parkway. Gaffino noted that as you get older, you don’t need a large lot, but you still want to have some appeal in the front of the home.
Jim Bibby noted the Village is still waiting for a topographical survey, noting the three storage pond areas that need to be considered, along with the trees around them, which serve an important engineering purpose for natural storm water. Mr. Fields noted they have a consulting firm actively working on the grading and topography plan.
Mr. Fields noted that the preliminary plan is to try and create plateaus from north to south with some of the lots getting larger as you get near the separation between single-family and duplex homes. He envisions a grade separation and storm water along with a pedestrian path noting some of the green areas will be more paths shown on the next plan. Trustee Curtis noted with sidewalks on just one side, and narrow streets, she is not seeing any connectivity, and limited ability to use sidewalks. This is a community where there will be pets and grandchildren, how will that work, with a lack of sidewalks and limited green space. She feels they are cramming a lot into this 100-acre site. Trustee Gaffino agreed with Trustee Curtis’ comments about no walking paths other than the sidewalk on one side of the street.
Mr. Fields noted they are trying to maintain the site characteristics as much as possible, and still satisfy best engineering practices, adding he understands and is here to receive feedback. He noted that as they finalize the storm water and topographic studies, they will look to incorporate some of the existing ponds. Trustee Guethle stated he would like to see the ponds stay. He also asked about parking and if there will be sufficient street parking to meet all the townhomes and duplex needs. Toth noted the Subdivision Ordinance contains right-of-way width requirements that take street parking into consideration. Fields noted they are not requesting any parking variations. Trustee Gaffino was concerned about reducing the ROW from 66 to 60. Toth noted that the Village does not have specific density standards, but instead relies on lot area and width requirements per the Zoning Ordinance. To summarize, Toth noted issues discussed were related to the topography and considerations of the ponds, the grid pattern that makes it dense, and the northern portion of the development that might change visually. He noted the proposed plan listed the lot sizes and the lots get smaller as the go south to Ridge Road. Toth also noted that the east side of North Aurora has more traditional R1 lots as opposed to the larger E3 lots on the west side.
Dale Berman offered his comments. He noted that when the Village first discussed development of the golf course, there was much more curvature to the streets and the design as a whole was much more attractive. He noted that prior to 1970 developments were all linear, but now there are curves in all the more recent developments. He said he thinks the density is too high and he would like to see sidewalks on both sides of the street.
Mr. Fields noted that after the initial concept plan, they tried to take comments and still balance a building concept plan based on the challenges. They will continue to make a best effort to address those going forward.
Toth, noted PUD requirements and flexibility with the topography and detention can all be incorporated into the PUD and include the existing terrain in this plan.
Berman noted this is a beautiful piece of property and the flat plan doesn’t show the beauty and it is hard to visualize looking at something so linear. Trustee Curtis reiterated she would like to see more open space, noting this is a location that can’t be beat. It is close to the Fox River, I-88, and she would love to see it developed, however it is a treasure and she doesn’t want to “give it away” and see 100-year old trees and ponds gone, noting this is not good for the community. She noted the east side is a mix of older homes but she doesn’t want to take this last chance for a great development on the east side to be just thrown together.
Trustee Gaffino and Trustee Guethle stated they are not against development but feel the plan certainly needs some revisions. Toth explained the public hearing process and noted that any plans will go through the public hearing process with the Plan Commission before going back to the full Village Board.
Lynn Ducar, 373 Ridge Road. She asked about the access to the Fox River from Rt. 25 that was referenced, noting there is no access to the Fox River. Mr. Fields noted the plan would incorporate accessibility with the intent to provide pedestrian trails. Ms. Ducar asked if two access roads at Banbury would impact traffic. She noted drivers speed up and down on Banbury as it is and more traffic could be an issue. She also asked how Ridge Road fits into the topography plan and what impact it will have for residents on Banbury. Toth noted that preliminary information appears to be minimal traffic on Banbury with more of an impact on Route 25. Ms. Ducar also asked about the drainage ditch along Banbury Road on the west sides. Toth noted this would actually be less of a maintenance issue for the Village as the scrub brush along the west side of Banbury Road would be removed.
Linda Mitchell, 243 Ridge Road said she was speaking for the HOA board. She stated as a former Plan Commission member and Village Trustee, she is familiar with the process. Mitchell stated they know it’s in transition, and the density is a major concern to all who live on Ridge Road. Mitchell noted their townhome development should have had more greenspace built in, but it didn’t happen and they suffer because of it. Now looking at this plan, they are not seeing that the plan takes into account any of the trees or ponds that are already there and this will affect quality life. This development will also put more of a burden on the Village for our Police and Public Works, and expenditures for personnel. Mitchell also noted she lives in the second building on Ridge Road that backs to golf course coming off of Route 25, which backs to a sand trap that was actually owned by her community, and not the golf course. The builder had a “handshake” agreement with the golf course for this portion of the property. She said this needs to be monitored to determine which our property is ours and which is theirs. She said she hoped the landscape buffer could be more, with many trees. Regarding tree preservation, the Village needs to make sure that the management company is aware of who owns what part of that. She said she hopes to see with some improvement with this plan.
Chris Von Eper, 295 Ridge Road said he appreciates the Committee’s comments about density, but also concerned that the development may not happen or get completed. Asked what guarantee there would be that the development would actually come to fruition. What would the timeline be and how would this impact their quality of life?
Toth noted this property is already annexed in Village, and the developer would be required to post a bond or letter of credit to be sure the work is completed and they will have money to back it up.
Mr. Fields noted this would be a phased development approach with 2 or 3 phases. The challenges of the golf course is the grading. The underground work and street grading would be done in a single phase, and the buildout of the streets would follow in the next phase, making sure everything is in place with the infrastructure. From buildout perspective, looking at market and surrounding areas, we could, in theory, be ready in a year from now to begin development based on approvals from Plan Commission and the Village Board. Our hope is that we are able to present a revised plan, and meet the concerns of the Village Board and Plan Commission. Once we can address concerns and have an approved plan, I could see phasing it appropriately and selling consistently, for a 3 to 4 year build out.
Linda Mitchell asked which of the products will be built first. Mr. Fields noted they would plan on building models for all three simultaneously.
Maureen Joy, 329 Ridge Road, noted she likes that the Committee sees density as an issue, the plan is very crowded and although old neighborhoods are very linear she would like to see more space and more curves in the development. She stated green space and trees are treasures and she hopes they keep the trees. Water management is a concern and putting paths in the green areas, can have an impact on the water because of flooding issues.
Toth noted the Subdivision Ordinance requires a tree preservation plan and they will be required to mark certain size trees, so we will have an analysis and will work through the process. Bosco also noted that the Kane County Storm Water Ordinance requires a certain amount of detention space and we will be sure we have proper storage.
Trustee Gaffino asked about the Citgo gas station on River Road. Toth stated that they recently reopened the business.
Toth noted the My Place Hotel foundation permit will be issued soon.
Staff met with a developer for a Holiday Inn Express at Orchard Commerce.
Starbucks contract has been terminated due to discrepancies in the purchase price and increase in construction costs impacted by the recent hurricanes. With this project on hold at this point, Toth noted if the hotel were to come on site, and with his good rapport with the developer, they may have a better chance to develop.
MOTION TO ADJOURN
Trustee Gaffino made a Motion to Adjourn, seconded by Trustee Curtis. All in Favor.
Meeting Adjourned at 10:13 a.m.
Executive Assistant/Deputy Clerk