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Sugar Grove officials address talk of ‘secret meetings’ with Crown Community Development, recording

Several residents voiced concern at Tuesday’s meeting of the Sugar Grove Village Board of Trustees, questioning officials for the way they are handling their continued communications with Crown Community Development.

Crown Community Development is the company behind the controversial mixed-used development that was withdrawn earlier this year in connection to approximately 760 acres near the Interstate 88 and Route 47 interchange.

Sugar Grove resident Fred Morelli said he takes issue with “the secret meetings being held to avoid the requirements of the Open Meetings Act.”

Crown Community Development is in the process of preparing a proposal for the village to consider.

“Three or four meetings ago, the village let the public know that meetings were scheduled with village board members,” Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger said. “It’s a mischaraterization to say it’s a secret meeting. At a public meeting, it was announced the intent was to allow Crown to present changes to the plan in response to the community and the village board. Crown hasn’t said what the changes are. The village board told Crown that a similar proposal with changes isn’t enough. It won’t get support.”

Eichelberger said the village wants to work with Crown Community Development to find a mutually beneficial project for residents, Crown and the greater community.

Sugar Grove resident Judie Childress took time to read a statement at the meeting on behalf of Vicki Friedrich who is a Romeoville resident.

“I have seen many articles of your impending decision to allow a development featuring warehouses in your beautiful town,” she read. “I would like to encourage you to vote no to a development such as this. Living in what I now call ‘The land of warehouses,’ I can honestly say it will be a huge decision that will lead to the destruction of your lives as you know them.”

In her statement, Friedrich goes on to cite concerns for traffic, safety and the environment.

Several residents also took time to comment on the way the village board meeting minutes are presented. They said issues arise when people speak on Crown Community Development.

Sugar Grove resident Millie Molitor said this is an issue of concern to her.

“I’m not making the comment because I am the resident whose comments were eliminated, and I’m not making the comment because I feel like I want my name in the minutes, or because what I was speaking about was so impressive that they should’ve been written,” she said. “… The issue isn’t what I was saying, it’s that I spoke and that whether my name is indicated or not, the comments should be listed in the minutes.”

Molitor spoke in opposition to Crown at a recent public meeting, and believes her comments were eliminated from the minutes.

“This is not a criticism of [Village Clerk] Cindy [Galbreath] at all,” she said. “We’re living in the 21st Century. Most towns around us are audio recording the board meetings. And while we’re saying that our minutes are not meant to be verbatim, I understand that but I’m speaking as a resident whose comments were omitted.”

Morelli shared similar sentiments, saying that his comments at a recent village board meeting were misconstrued as reported in the minutes.

Several residents have said they want to continue to stand firm in displaying their opposition to Crown Community Development and its proposal as the company’s communications continue with the village.

Molitor brought up the idea of the village recording audio at its board meetings to ensure that accurate and complete record is maintained.

Several officials said they would look into either audio or video recording.

Sidewalk program 2019

In other developments, village staff sought direction from the board regarding how to proceed with the 2019 sidewalk program.

Typically, Sugar Grove budgets $10,000 annually for sidewalk improvements.

The village has received requests for $12,200 of added work to address trip hazards and Americans with Disability Act (ADA) ramps.

Officials came to a consensus that it is best to wait until the board’s next meeting. At that point, the village will have audit information to help inform any action taken to pay for the added costs.

Open burning regulations amended

Also at the meeting, the village amended its open burning regulations.

Municipal code stipulates that recreational fires and outdoor fireplaces are allowable from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. The rules also limit the open burning of leaves, diseased trees and tree debris to occur between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Members of the village board last discussed this topic at their July 16 meeting. Violators are subject to penalty.


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