Plan Commission Meeting Tonight

Tonight (Wed, 3/15/17), 7pm, Batavia City Council Chambers, the Plan Commission will meet to discuss the design of the 1 N. Washington apartments.

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Last Chance to Comment on Massive Apartment Complex Proposal

Update: The variances passed the Batavia City Council, overriding the Plan Commission’s vote, and clearing the way for the project to be built. Only Alderman Kevin Botterman voted against it.

Monday night, Feb. 20, 7:30pm, the Batavia City Council will vote to finalize Zoning Code amendments to allow Shodeen’s LLC to build their massive, 81-ft tall (at River St), 6-story, 186-unit apartment complex, providing zero parking spaces for their tenants, on over 3/4 of the block at Washington and Wilson in downtown Batavia.

Since they will not hold a referendum to determine whether or not the citizens of Batavia want this built (with the aid of $14 million in General Obligation bonds, backed by your tax dollars), the only way they will know what you want is if you contact them. Please take the time to email your opinion on the project to the Mayor and City Council before Monday night. This is your vote. If you don’t speak up, they will feel justified in voting however they please. The Contact button is at right.

Pictures of the project:

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View looking east across bridge from west side

Plan Commission Rendering

Size at River and State ; current parking deck in corner

Proposed Shodeen Apartments

Developer’s drawings

More information can be found on the City of Batavia website (http://www.cityofbatavia.net/658/Washing…)
and the City Council “Downtown Redevelopment” page at this site.

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Plans to Tear Down Historic Building for Parking Lot

Update: It turns out the pump house at the southwest end of the Larson Becker properties was likely misclassified and has some historic significance, even more so than 124 N. River. Nevertheless, the Historic Preservation Commission voted to tear down all the buildings. Former alderman Kyle Hohmann was the only vote in favor of preserving the pump house.

On tonight’s Batavia Historic Preservation Commission meeting agenda (5:30pm — http://www.cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCente…) is the demolition of 124 N River St. (the green house on River St., the block north of the parking deck). House info: http://search.bataviatownship.com/parcel… ; tax info: http://kaneapplications.countyofkane.org…

The house was built in 1865 and is considered a “contributing historic building”. Its property tax, payable 2016, was $4142.68 and rising, before the City bought it. No evidence was given for its demolition, no estimates for repair obtained, and all reasons cited were based on feelings and “experience”. Their only verifiable justification is that tearing it down will allow them to build a parking lot to subsidize the massive Shodeen apartment complex during construction (and beyond if the Shodeen project parking proves to be inadequate).

There is no contact information for the Historic Preservation Commission. The meeting is tonight, Monday, Feb. 13, at 5:30pm.

According to the agenda document, of the other contributing historic building on the block, 106 N. River (the gray, weathered building with the really neat old sign on its north face): “That structure will remain for now. The City would like to explore possibility of relocating this structure and a COA application will be submitted at a future date.” .

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Committee of the Whole Votes to Approve Massive Apartment Complex

Tuesday night, the Batavia City Council Committee of the Whole sent the 1 N. Washington giant apartment complex, with one no vote (Ald. Kevin Botterman), to the full City Council for approval on Monday, Feb. 20,7:30 pm.

The Plan Commission had rejected the proposal based mainly on the size. They said it was much too big for that location, where City Code limits the maximum building height to 50 ft, and the variance requested by Shodeen was 81 ft. The Plan Commission made the recommendation that if the building were stepped down in height to River St., they would have a good starting point for discussion. During their deliberation, they had also mentioned they liked the good use of color along Washington St. to break up large sections visually. But that would be part of the design review later, which would be discussed further only if Shodeen would make the building smaller or the City Council would overrule their recommendation.

Continue reading

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Plan Commission Votes Against Project, Action Requested

On January 25, 2017, the Batavia Plan Commission, by a vote of 4-2, sent a negative recommendation to the City Council for the massive, 186-unit apartment complex proposed for downtown Batavia. They thought it was too big and recommended against its approval by Council unless it was stepped down in height to River St. in particular, so it would not be so overbearing. They did not think the proposal as presented was appropriate for the downtown, and were not willing to grant the many zoning code variances the developer, Shodeen, sought.

However, the Plan Commission repeatedly pointed out the City Council has the final say and can overrule the Plan Commission’s decision. And there is every indication the City Council is prepared to do just that. That’s why we need a groundswell of people to speak up and ask the Council to represent the will of their constituents, as they were elected to do. Continue reading

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Plan Commission Meeting

Wednesday night, January 25, 7:30pm, is a continuation of the Plan Commission’s hearing and deliberation on the proposed massive Shodeen apartment complex at 1 N. Washington. (Update: video from the 1/25/17 meeting can be viewed here)

A video of the Jan. 4 public hearing continuation can be found here.

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One North Washington Project Moving Forward

Tuesday night, January 17, 7:30pm, the Batavia City Council will be voting on a number of measures that move the massive downtown apartment complex proposal forward, including boring to run new electrical service equipment, establishing the new TIF (Tax Increment Financing) District, approving the plan for the area, establishing a dormant SSA (Special Service Area), etc. Here’s the packed agenda: http://www.cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/01172017-940?html=true

Also on Tuesday’s agenda are the latest bridge sculpture offerings and approval of a contract for branding and identity services.

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Recreational Vehicle Owners Take Note

If you are a recreational vehicle owner (includes all unusual vehicles like campers, boats, jet skis, etc., that you might park in your driveway), or think you might want to be someday, you’ll want to attend the public hearing at Wednesday night’s Plan Commission meeting: Wed, Jan. 18, 7pm, City Council Chambers. Here’s the agenda: http://www.cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/9950?fileID=6069

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Meetings This Week

BPS 101–Tuesday, January 10, 6pm– Special School Board Meeting–agendas: http://www.boarddocs.com/il/bps101/Board…
District Management Council (DMC) consultants will present a proposal to the Board for their services. Bottom line: cost of $180,000 ($60,000/yr for 3 yrs) to make staffing schedules. This is just for discussion only at this time.

Tuesday, 7pm–Regular School Board Meeting–more DMC discussion; discussion of a contract with a touring company at the Batavia Fine Arts Centre for some large dollar amount (number not given in agenda); no significant action items

City Council COW–Tuesday, January 10, 7:30pm–agenda: http://www.cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCente…
The agenda includes a boatload of items surrounding the massive Shodeen apartment complex, 1 Washington Place. Agenda items 7 and 12 to 17 all deal with the project, from up to $178,000 for directional boring needed to provide electricity to the project, to approval of the project and creation of a new TIF district to allow the project to siphon the tax increment from other taxing bodies to the City for 23 years.

If you are concerned about this project, especially if you were one of the many who spoke last week before the Plan Commission, you may want to speak to the City Council Tuesday night. The COW (Committee of the Whole) meetings are the preliminary meetings where all the real discussions take place. By the time they get to the Monday Council meetings for final approval, decisions have largely been made.

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Petitions Filed for Referendum to Remove Home Rule

Update:  The petitions for a referendum to remove home rule were denied ballot access following a hearing before the Electoral Board in response to an objection filed by recently-retired City Administrator Bill McGrath. The 381 signatures submitted were short of the 764 signatures required for a referendum.

Press release:

Today (3pm) petitions were filed to put home rule to referendum on the April 4 ballot in the City of Batavia. Many people, the majority of whom had never circulated petitions before, stepped up to contribute to the effort, which was organized by Batavians for Responsible Government.

This had to be a shared effort, since the past practice for collecting large quantities of signatures–standing outside of businesses on Randall Road–was no longer an option due the corporate policies of the major businesses against petitioning on their property. “If corporate America were more civic-minded, exercising our right to petition the government would be much easier,” commented petition circulator Carl Dinwiddie.

Even the Batavia Public Library denied access to petition circulators before Friday, when the policy banning petitioning was temporarily suspended pending review by the Library Board.

Concerns that resonated with the signers of the petition were the nearly unlimited power to increase taxes that home rule gives, a possible Stormwater Utility, as well as the inability of the citizens to petition for referenda on bonds issued by the City. Many want a voice in the $14 million bonds the City plans to issue for the 186-unit apartment complex proposed as a joint venture between the developer, Shodeen, and the City of Batavia. For other signers, the idea of putting the issue to the voters to decide was reason enough.

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