VILLAGE OF NORTH AURORA
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE MEETING MINUTES
SEPTEMBER 21, 2020
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Village Board meeting was conducted live remotely
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Berman called the meeting to order.
In attendance: Mayor Dale Berman, Trustee Mark Gaffino, Trustee Mike Lowery, Trustee Laura Curtis, Trustee Mark Guethle, Trustee Mark Carroll
Staff in attendance: Village Administrator Steve Bosco, Finance Director Bill Hannah, Community & Economic Development Director Mike Toth, Village Attorney Kevin Drendel, Public Works Director John Laskowski, Police Chief Dave Fisher.
AUDIENCE COMMENTS – See comments in discussion item #2.
TRUSTEE COMMENTS – None
1. Petition #20-05 I-1 District Text Amendment for Red’s Garage
Community & Economic Development Director Mike Toth explained the Village Board had previously issued a temporary use permit in August to Red’s Garage to allow them to operate while they looked at zoning options to allow them to operate a motor vehicle and service repair in the I-1 district. There were several available options, and Red’s Garage ultimately chose to pursue a text amendment, which would allow them to operate in the I-1 District by right. The Plan Commission unanimously recommended the text amendment at their September 1 meeting.
Trustee Laura Curtis brought up her concerns once more of an issue of a business opening without proper zoning happening again and how to prevent it. Toth said the business registration form has been modified to include a required section for new businesses to contact him for their exact zoning, which could at that time confirm if their zoning was allowed in that district. He said it was not perfect, but the Village was doing what it could to circumvent this issue from happening in the future.
2. Petition #20-04 Forest Ridge Townhome Development
Community & Economic Development Director Mike Toth spoke on the proposed Forest Ridge Townhome Development that was brought before the Plan Commission on September 1 on a total of 8 acres of land that would need to be annexed into the Village at a later time should the development behind Windstone Subdivision move through. The development would consist of five residential townhome buildings of six units each and are being billed as luxury townhome units. Toth said he would like to focus the meeting tonight on the development of the property as shown on the site plan.
He noted one item that had come up at Plan Commission was the concern of parking, and that the petitioner did prepare a parking map that showed an estimated 101 on street parking spaces in addition to each unit having a two car garage and a driveway that would fit at minimum two additional vehicles. Mayor Dale Berman said he had been concerned about the parking, but felt there was adequate parking now.
Several Windstone Subdivision residents, of which the town homes would back up to their subdivision, spoke during the Committee of the Whole to express various concerns about the development. Resident Valerie Shoger said she was still concerned with parking as the townhomes would not have basements and that many residents would thus be using their garages for storage instead of vehicles. Resident Cheryl Stetter expressed concern over the appearance of both the townhomes and the view they would be blocking of the subdivision’s pond and the cornfields, as well as the trees being removed. She said the proposed townhomes would level the landscape and create a blank wall of houses that would be the first thing seen coming into the area. Community & Economic Development Director Mike Toth did note that while there are no current plans for the cornfield there has been interest in developing apartment units as well as industrial warehouse units. He also said a condition of the development was a tree survey to preserve as many good quality trees as possible. Resident Sonja Flores-Gomez also spoke that the townhomes would block the view of the pond and suggested the developer remove one of the townhome buildings that bordered the pond. Developer Nick Lamagna said the development is already low density as compared to most and they had already taken out several units. Community & Economic Development Director also noted that the units would be set pretty far back from the eastern property line (by the pond) and shifted to the west as best as possible.
Windstone Residents also said they did not feel the properties exuded luxury and were not attractive. Architect Matt Haylock with the developer said they looked at surrounding properties for ideas and while the colors are modern he feels that the design presented is traditional and classical with a lot of rich ornamentation. He said they would address the gables to vary their heights and make it more appealing. Engineer Ray Sikkema said he understood a winding road would look better, but that collector roads are also needed and that a winding road would constrain the shape of the property and that they had to line up this road with other already established roads.
Trustee Lowery said he did not feel the project was very aesthetically pleasing and Trustee Gaffino said based on resident commentary it does not feel that as currently designed and described that this development fits well in that area. He said he wants to be business friendly but it has to work with North Aurora and he does not see a lot of upside to this proposal.
3. Village Clerk
Former Village Clerk Lori Murray resigned in July as she moved out of state and the position is currently up for election at the April 2021 election. However, Bosco noted that the majority of the Clerk’s duties are being done by staff internally and this would be a good time to approach the Board with the future of the position. If so, a referendum would need to be added to the 2021 election.
Village President Dale Berman said that fifty years ago having a Clerk was important as the Village did not have the staff it currently does. He also noted that there was a period of time where the elected clerk did not meet the standards they had hoped and with an election process there is no guarantee that the best person is selected for the position. He noted it felt like a waste of time to have someone run for office that is not involved in any decisions or the voting process, as well as the cost of paying a clerk when the function of the Clerk is something that Village staff could take on.
Trustee Mark Carroll had concerns in the event of an election dispute and said the purpose of having an elected Clerk is that they are independent to the Board and there is then no conflict of interest. Trustee Gaffino said eliminating an elected position bothers him as it is the right of the people to vote someone in. Trustee Curtis asked what the difference would be between an appointed Clerk and how members of the Plan Commission are also appointed rather than elected. She said she would be in favor of a Clerk being appointed with the consent of the board.
To put the item to referendum, it would need to be submitted by January 16, 2021. Applicants for the open Clerk position will be accepted from November 16 – November 23, at which point the Village would know if there was any interest in someone running for the position.
EXECUTIVE SESSION – Motion to adjourn to Executive Session made by Trustee Carroll and seconded by Trustee Gaffino. All in favor. Motion approved. See Executive Session minutes.
Motion to adjourn made by Trustee Guethle and seconded by Trustee Curtis. All in favor. Motion approved.
Natalie F. Stevens
Deputy Village Clerk