The Sugar Grove Village Board of Trustees at its meeting Tuesday took a close look at development options for the Cope property, carefully considering the possibility of building a senior living community.
Bounded by Galena Boulevard, Route 30 and Sugar Grove Parkway, the Cope property is 133 acres of unincorporated, vacant farmland. Officials describe the site as the town’s center.
Past plans to develop the property were shelved when the real estate market collapsed in 2007.
Ron Cope, the owner and a managing partner for the Cope property, presented two concepts with variances for the board to review.
One scenario involves laying the groundwork for an industrial use.
Cope suggested the buildings could be architecturally satisfying, provide thousands of jobs and stir economic activity in the community.
The other concept, dubbed the Villages of Sugar Grove, would set up a senior housing community with an opportunity to develop a town square with mixed commercial uses.
Cope brought up the idea of constructing six to eight residences per acre, and wanted the board to advise and give consent as to which concept to explore further.
Several officials said they can get excited about the idea of developing a senior housing community with a town square.
Trustee Jen Konen said she has one reservation about the concept, with it only serving senior citizens ages 55 and older.
“I don’t know if there’s a way within the land use to segment it where you do create that, but what keeps the aging population youthful is the youth,” she said.
Cope tried to explain.
“If you want mixed-use that is mixed ages, that presents more of a difficulty,” he said.
Konen questioned if Cope is prepared to start development of both the residential project and town square simultaneously.
Cope explained that unless the village can demonstrate that its population would gravitate to the new developments, the people who develop retail aren’t going to pursue those opportunities immediately.
Konen said her fear is the town square part of the concept may not materialize, if both components are not developed simultaneously.
Village President Sean Michels shared that sentiment, saying a burden could be created if commercial uses do not come on line.
“As you add the residents, you’re adding services,” he said.
Cope said the idea is to bring on line something different, and the senior living community could be a catalyst for further development.
The board came to a consensus recommending the village look into developing a senior housing community with a town square comprised of mixed commercial uses.
Project leaders have several required steps to make the development a reality. That includes annexation and zoning hearings and the submittal of development plans.
Cope said he plans to share input received from the village board with Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis (CBRE) Group, a real estate firm, and is aware there are a few senior housing communities that may have interest in the property.
Traffic signal update
Also at the meeting, the board authorized a professional services agreement with EEI for phase I engineering for a traffic signal at Park Avenue and Sugar Grove Parkway.
“I think another limiting factor is the urgency to get this done because of the severe accidents that have occurred at this intersection,” Michels said.
Sugar Grove is looking to pay for the full costs for phase I engineering.
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is required to sign off on a potential traffic signal installation, and traffic counts are currently under review.
“Why not wait until we have that green light and then vote?” Trustee Ryan Walter asked.
Village Engineer Michele Piotrowski said the process of setting up a traffic signal could take three to five years.
The agreement stipulates EEI will receive $66,627 from the village, which is unbudgeted, but could be paid for using unrestricted reserve fund balance available in the infrastructure maintenance fund account.
Tobacco sales regulations discussed
In other developments, the village is looking to update its rules regulating tobacco sales.
Sugar Grove has 30 days to take a look at its ordinance to comply with the new Tobacco 21 rule passed by the state of Illinois. The law limits sales to those age 21 and older, and the village now has to look at its rules regarding fines, suspension and revocation.
The village wants to make sure its rules are business-friendly by giving retailers a rolling 24-month period to reset the clock should two or more offenses occur.
A motion was passed approving an intergovernmental agreement between the village of Sugar Grove and the city of Aurora related to the Aurora Municipal Airport. The new, combined agreement replaces two prior pacts focused on potable water and airport operations and extends the time period for an additional 20 years.