VILLAGE OF NORTH AURORA
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE MEETING MINUTES
Monday, June 21, 2021
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Village Board meeting was conducted live remotely
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Gaffino called the meeting to order.
In attendance: Mayor Mark Gaffino, Trustee Mark Carroll, Trustee Laura Curtis, Trustee Mark Guethle, Trustee Todd Niedzwiedz, Trustee Carolyn Salazar
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 – None
TRUSTEE COMMENTS – None
1. Fairview Development/Traffic Plan
Administrator Bosco introduced the agenda item which pertains to the proposed two warehouse project to the west of the Tinsletown Theater with access to Smoketree Plaza, Fariview Drive and Sullivan Road. The intention of the discussion was to garner feedback on whether or not the Board was comfortable with the Traffic Plan presented to them.
Director Toth explained that on March 15, 2021 the Committee of the Whole discussed the project concept development plans and expressed concern over the traffic patterns. The developer, Ridgeline Property Group, consulted with KLOA, Inc. to perform a Preliminary Traffic Review. The study reviewed the proposed access and circulation system, estimated traffic created by the development and reviewed the truck routes to and from the development. The proposed truck route would have trucks entering from the South on to Fairview Drive off of Sullivan Road and exiting via Smoketree Plaza on to Lincolnway.
Ben Harris with Ridgeline Property Group joined the conversation and stated that at the March 15, 2021 COW meeting Ridgeline had originally proposed that trucks would enter the property from Lincolnway via Smoketree Plaza, to which some members of the Board had concerns. Mr. Harris explained that he hoped that the adjusted truck route was now acceptable to the Village Board.
Trustee Niedzwiedz asked for confirmation that originally the concept had trucks both entering and exiting via Smoketree Plaza, to which Director Toth explained that it had always been part of the concept to utilize Smoketree Plaza, as it is utilized currently by Dart Corporation and their trucks.
There was further discussion regarding the entrance on Fairview and how Mr. Toth does not believe it will affect the roundabout that is located just west of Fairview on Sullivan.
Trustee Carroll stated that he is in agreement with the new truck route concept. He also stated that the still had concerns about the trucks leaving Smoketree Plaza on to Lincolnway, especially with theater traffic.
Trustee Curtis stated she was in agreement with the concept.
Trustee Salazar expressed concern for the potential traffic on Lincolnway with the entrance to the Interstate being just north of the intersection. Director Toth directed the Board to the projected site-generated traffic volumes within the traffic review study. Mr. Toth explained that the two building will also house office space and not solely distribution centers, there could potentially be more passenger vehicle traffic than truck traffic.
Mr. Harris addressed Trustee Carroll’s earlier concern of traffic with movie theater patrons, stating that the trucks are typically passing through during daytime hours while the movie theater traffic was generally in the evening and weekends.
Mr. Harris posed the question to the Board whether or not they would consider allowing truck traffic to exit on to Sullivan via Fairview. Director Toth stated that the truck route as presented has a good flow to it, a deviation from it would have to be further investigated.
Trustee Guethle stated that he is comfortable with the trucks exiting via Smoketree Plaza on to Lincolnway.
Trustee Carroll stated that he was comfortable with the plan as presented and would be not be in favor of trucks exiting on to Sullivan, to which Mayor Gaffino added that he did not believe trucks could pull out on to Sullivan due to traffic.
Trustee Salazar was in agreement with the presented truck route.
Mr. Harris thanked the Board for the positive feedback and stated that the discussion gave him comfort in moving forward with the project.
2. Opus Draft TIF Incentive
Administrator Bosco stated that the intention is to have this issue before the Board for a vote at the July 19, 2021, therefore the intention for the discussion was to assess the Boards level of comfort with the Opus TIF Incentive terms as proposed.
Director Toth reminded the Board that at the May 17, 2021 Committee of the Whole Meeting, Opus presented the request for TIF funding for the work surrounding Building “B” of the I-88 Corporate Park. According to Opus the project would require a TIF reimbursement of 3.9 Million dollars in order to make the project financially feasible. An agreement was drafted between Attorneys for the Village and Opus, including the provisions that the Village Board discussed at the May 17, 2001 COW meeting.
Attorney Drendel stated that while the agreement drafted did match the terms discussed, there were a number of items that Attorney Drendel was concerned about and wanted to bring to the Board to assess their comfortability with them.
The first issue Attorney Drendel had with the document lied within the last sentence of section 6.2: “Notwithstanding any developer default, in no event shall the Village suspend, limit, delay any payments on the Developer Note or seek any remedy which may have the effect of any of the foregoing”. Attorney Drendel stated that while the Village may have some remedies for default of the Developer, withholding payment will not be one of them.
Additionally, Attorney Drendel was concerned about section 6.3 which states “No default under this agreement shall entitle any party to terminate, cancel or otherwise rescind this agreement” which Attorney Drendel felt was taking away leverage the Village may have in the event of a default.
Attorney Drendel stated that after discussions with the developer’s attorneys, section 6.5 was added which allow a Village termination right if the developer fails to substantially complete the project within three years or developer fails to begin grading the property within a year of acquiring fee title to the property the Village may terminate the agreement.
Attorney Drendel went on to explain how these terms will limit the Village’s ability to exit the contract in the event of different scenarios he provided as examples, such as tornado and lack of acquiring a tenant for the buildings.
There was discussion regarding what might happen with the TIF incentive if Opus sold the development.
Josh Bauer from Opus Development was present and spoke about Opus’ motivation to make the agreement work. He stated that if the project did not generate tax increment, per the agreement Opus would not receive incentive.
Further discussion took place in regard to the possibilities of Opus selling the development and what that would mean if the TIF incentive was packaged with the building or the developer.
Trustee Carroll expressed his concern about the agreement eliminating the possibility of the Village’s ability to terminate the agreement in the event the developer did not live up to their end of the bargain.
Trustee Guethle asked if further work can be done between the attorneys to make both parties more comfortable.
Mr. Bauer stated that the agreement is very close to being completed and reminded the Board that the July 19, 2021 Village Board meeting where the agreement is to be voted on is pertinent to the timeline of the project.
Trustee Curtis expressed agreement with Trustee Carroll’s concerns however did not want to see the project delayed. She asked if provisional approval could be offered while this concern was addressed.
Trustee Niedzwiedz asked for confirmation that the developer will only receive the incentive if tax increment is earned, to which Attorney Drendel agreed.
Administrator Bosco explained that the concern is that once the Village’s provisional ability to terminate the contract is expired after three years, if something happens to the building and it is no longer generating increment, there is no possibility of the Village to terminate the contract.
Mayor Gaffino asked what the risk to the Village would be if something happened and the building was not generating increment. Attorney Drendel stated that if the building is not living up to its potential, there would still be tax increment generated. The risk lies in that the increment generated would not be at the level proposed. Per the agreement, the developer will still receive 75% and the Village 25% of whatever funds are generated. There would be no funds derived from residential tax payer funding. Attorney Drendel stated that the risks may not be significant, the idea that the Village will have no remedy should something happen gave him concern.
Director Toth added to the discussion that some of the concerns about possible scenarios can be addressed with code enforcement.
Trustee Curtis stated that if in fact there was minimal risk she would like to move forward with the project.
Trustee Salazar was in agreement with Trustee Curtis and would like to move forward with the project.
Mayor Gaffino was also in agreement with moving forward with the project with positive words about Opus Development.
All Trustees were in agreement with moving forward with the Opus Development Project.
EXECUTIVE SESSION – None
Motion to adjourn made by Trustee Carroll and seconded by Trustee Curtis. All in favor. Motion approved.