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Sugar Grove trustees discuss zoning for data centers

Amid some concerns raised by residents, Sugar Grove trustees discussed an effort to make the village more attractive to data centers by allowing them as permitted uses. Trustees discussed the topic, among others, at the village board meeting Nov. 19.

Trustee Jen Konen questioned if the village board is examining the idea of allowing data centers as a permitted use, specifically as it relates to the Crown Community Development Property located off Interstate 88 and Route 47.

The property is currently zoned for E-1 Estate Residential District use.

“That would be part of the discussion because that’s the property identified by a potential user,” Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger said. “I think as part of this process, we would at least want to explore are there other viable sites that may make sense to permit it or allow it.”

Some people expressed concerns, requesting that more information is provided.

Resident Fred Morelli asked if the village could identify the company that’s prompting the board’s discussion of data centers as a permitted use.

“We’re concerned this might be a back door for Crown to get in,” he said.

Village President Sean Michels responded, saying “they are not at this point in time.”

The village is not actively considering any proposals for data centers, officials said. A company, whose name wasn’t disclosed, expressed interest to the state of Illinois in setting up shop in town only for the plan to fall through.

“Who was it that recommended a weakening of the zoning ordinances or the procedure to amend the zoning ordinances?” Morelli asked. “Because that’s what I see here.”

Eichelberger wanted to be clear this is not a weakening of the zoning ordinances. He said future action by the village board does not preclude or entitle requests for warehouses to advance thereafter.

Staff is recommending the village board give some thought to taking steps toward allowing for data centers as a permitted use. There are different ways to accomplish this aim, whether it’s through rezoning or a special use permit.

Eichelberger said Sugar Grove could make for a good fit for data centers.

“To our knowledge, the impacts on our community are really small and there’s a lot of positive benefits, we believe, but we have to go through the process to determine that,” he said.

The village board directed staff to look into this topic further.

Tax levy discussed

In other developments, a public hearing was conducted for the village’s 2019 tax levy.

The village is looking to request an estimated $1,757,379 , which is $42,205 or 2.46% more than last year’s levy extension, according to village board documents.

Some people took time to discuss this topic at the meeting, citing concerns for increasing property tax bills.

Trustee Rick Montalto tried to lessen the concerns.

“It’s prudent to have some kind of tax levy just so we can maintain the services the community expects from us,” he said.

Trustee Jen Konen shared a differing viewpoint, saying the property tax increases never seem to end.

“We need to increase our business traffic in town,” she said. “We can’t just keep burdening the residents, the people that are here and the stakeholders, here, in Sugar Grove to fund everything. It’s hard. There’s families that are moving. They’re No. 1 moving out of state or No. 2 they’re going somewhere else where their property taxes aren’t as high. I get that it’s not all village. I totally get that, but at the same time, that’s what we can control.”

A vote on the tax levy is expected at the village board’s Dec. 3 meeting.

Hankes Road bridge update

Also at the meeting, staff provided an update to the village board of improvements to Hankes Road bridge.

Trustee Sean Herron described the improvements underway as “putting a Band-Aid” on a wound and asked how long the project is expected to last.

Currently, the holes in the bridge are being filled and covered.

Public Works Director Anthony Speciale replied, saying through the winter.

The village believes the road is under the purview of the Sugar Grove Road District or the Illinois Department of Transportation, officials said.

“We feel very comfortable that the village has zero responsibility for that bridge,” Eichelberger said. “We talk about all the time that we have plenty of roads that we know are ours that we’re not able to maintain them to the level that we’d like to. Other than relaying concerns to IDOT and the township road district, I don’t know that there’s a huge role for the village to take.”

Years ago, the village filed a lawsuit, which was dismissed, in an attempt to get clarity on the issue only to find that IDOT’s pleadings indicated the village is not responsible for the bridge, officials said.

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