VILLAGE OF NORTH AURORA
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE MEETING MINUTES
JANUARY 18, 2021
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 Laura Curtis, Trustee Mike Lowery, Trustee Mark Guethle, Trustee Mark Carroll, Trustee Martinez.
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 below.
TRUSTEE COMMENTS – None
1. Forest Ridge Townhomes
Village Administrator Bosco said the Forest Ridge townhomes were proposed for an unincorporated section of property just west of the Windstone subdivision. This item has come before the board several times, most recently in September 2020, and following comments from both the public and the Trustees the petitioner has made revised plans to now present. , Community & Economic Development Director Mike Toth said Staff has been working with the petitioner on various items, including reaching out to the Fox Valley Park District regarding a pocket park, that will not be pursued due to the minimum 5 acre requirement and the development is only 8 acres total. Director Toth said he was looking for direction from the Board following the updates.
Petitioner Nick Lamagna, with LMN Opportunities, Inc., said they have taken all of the feedback and have worked to create a product that is the right fit for the area and one that everyone will be happy with. He said the largest comment they received was the lack of uniqueness for the units and they’ve worked to give more individualism to each unit by changing tresses, windows, etc. He said each unit will have character and not just look like legos in a row and said the quality should be at or above the level of other subdivisions in the area. End units will have windows and doors and stonework and he said no angle of any building should be an eyesore. Different layouts were incorporated to provide further dynamics and he said they worked very hard with the land they had available.
One such item they tried to pursue was a park as that was resident feedback, but unfortunately it was not possible even when they considered getting rid of a duplex unit. They did remove one unit in the second building to provide additional spacing and stagger the buildings to give them even more individuality. And while the park was not possible, they did put a walking path in that if Windstone selected could be connected to their own walking path.
Trustee Curtis had questions about if the units would have basements, the bedrooms, and the price points. Lamagna said the units will have basements and that end units are 4 bedroom and middle units are 2-3 bedrooms. He said pricewise they were originally looking to market them for $275,000-$325,000 and noted similar town homes that are not as nice are going closer to $375,000 and they’d be aiming now for $350,000 for a quick sale. Trustee Curtis said it was different inventory than what the Village has now and thinks it’s a great concept and fit for that location. She commended Lamagna for the work they have put into it. Trustee Guethle agreed and said he liked they cut down the density, put in the walking path and he was fine with the product. Trustee Gaffino also expressed support and said he liked that the petitioner listened to what the Board and the public had to say. Mayor Berman complimented them for listening and taking their suggestions and coming up with a nicer offering and said he hopes this will be the start of a long term relationship with the Village. Lamagna said he hoped so too. Trustees Martinez and Carroll both also expressed their support and said it speaks well of the petitioner that they were willing to listen to feedback, communicate, and even remove a unit at their own cost to present a better product.
The audience was then invited to speak on this item.
Kristina Neville, Windstone subdivision resident – said one of the units shown drawn in was over a large swathe of mature trees and said those trees are the most beautiful part of the Windstone subdivision and she doesn’t want to see them cut down. She wants to see a reduction in the housing unit at that corner.
Dave Neville, Windstone subdivision resident – also commented on the trees and said it was the only space in the whole development that had those big growth trees. Wants to leave them alone.
Nick Lamagna said he’d be open to a discussion to see what could be done and reached out to his architect, Ray Sikkemma, who explained that the low point in the subdivision is outlot A, which is where the water and drainage pond would need to go and it cannot be moved. He said the only way to save the trees would be to eliminate building one and that would make this project impossible. Dave Neville said he didn’t understand why there was a conversation of preserving outlot A with no trees instead of the trees in the building unit, and Sikkemma explained again that the retention has to be at the lowest point of the subdivision and the water is where it wants to be and it needs to be there or there will be flooding and drainage problems both on and off site. Lamagna said drainage was one of the biggest issues they’d dealt with and unfortunately with the natural land lay they can’t move things around as much as they’d like to. He said they’d do what they can to keep the trees.
Cheryl Stetter, Windstone subdivision resident – Said she appreciates the walkway being added. She had concerns about markers indicating a wetland delineation next to building 2 and a group of pink flags by building 3 indicating a drain tile. Lamagna said they were aware of all the drain items and would make sure they would not be drilling into any wetlands. Stetter also noted about the talk of planting trees and said the trees could potentially be moved to an area around the pond to give some privacy and would be an ideal location.
Kristina Neville, Windstone subdivision resident – questioned why the subdivision wasn’t being pushed back given that there was a large field in front of it. Sikkemma said the simplest answer would be that they do not own that property and the property owner has indicated they are not willing to develop at his time.
Valerie Shoger, 1473 Hearthstone Lane – Wanted to complement Lamagna and his team on the revisions they’d done and said the new buildings look awesome. She also wanted to thank them for the addition of the walking path and that it would be a great feature. She had questions about backyard landscaping and Director Toth directed her to the Village Board packets on the website that had that information and design. Shoger also said that in regards to the trees on the property, while they would all like to conserve and keep them she understands the reasoning and where the detention pond needs to go. She said if anything can be done to save the trees that would be great and thanked the petitioner again for the revisions they had done and for listening.
Sonja Flores-Gomez, Windstone subdivision resident – wanted to thank the board for allowing residents to share their thoughts and also wanted to thank the petitioner for listening to us. She said she’s been on several North Aurora board meetings where there have been builders not willing to listen to the community. She said she’d also love to save the trees by building one, but understands the drainage issues. She also noted there are some coyote dens in the area and asked about relocating. Lamagna said he would look into that.
2. Mid-Year Financial Review
Finance Director Bill Hannah presented an overview the Village’s revenue and other financial information to date. He noted that sales tax revenue is up 14% compared to last year and that such was quite remarkable. He said the reasons for the change were that the North Aurora auto mall was doing very well with sales tax revenue up to $200,000. Cannabis sales were also better than anticipated. Grocery stores and other essential stores also did really well over the last six months. He said there was close to $5.3 million in sales tax versus last year’s $4.6 million, or an increase of 8%. He said there are some micro issues and causes for concern but on a macro level the Village has done really well.
There was negative sales tax in March, April, May but it came back strong in June, July and September. He said the Village was blessed to have such a resilient, robust economy to weather some of the changes endured and that on the whole the trend was a positive situation. Income tax revenue is also up 19% over the first 8 months, due in part from the State changing the filing deadline from April to June, which is the biggest accounting of that variance. The projection is just over $1.98 million versus the budgeted amount of $1.6 million. He said due to this the Village may be overbudget but it should smooth out and level next year.
Building permit revenue was tracking well and projected $300,000 and that number is expected to be reached or slightly exceed. He said the $300,000 amount is going to likely be the projected budgeted figure going forward. The Village adopted a 3% tax for cannabis sales effective July 1 in addition to the regular sales tax. Director Hannah said he cannot share exact data as it is confidential, but can say the initial $600,000 estimate of revenue generated for the Village was a fair estimate and in ballpark. He said video gaming revenue has been down as is the telecommunications tax and off track betting is currently closed rendering it down as well as amusement tax, the majority of which are the result of mitigation efforts. The Village received approximately $1.06 million in CARES Act funding.
Director Hannah said he’s very pleasantly surprised with the base line projects and said next year the economy will assume a gradual recovery. He said when the 2020 census figures are decided in the spring there may be an uptick in per-capita revenues. Overall the Village’s financial position is very good and the Village is maintaining its AA+ bond rating.
EXECUTIVE SESSION – None
ADJOURNMENT TO VILLAGE BOARD MEETING
Motion to adjourn back to the Village Board meeting was made by Trustee Gaffino and seconded by Trustee Martinez. All in favor. Motion approved.
Natalie F. Stevens
Deputy Village Clerk