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Mac - You Hired Gun!

From: Herb Rubin
Category: General Discussion
Date: 22 Oct 2002
Time: 22:42:18 -0400
Remote Name:


Well Mac is certainly skillful in presenting a developer's case. Amazing how developers have staff and associations to speak for their causes while ordinary citizens have to stop their normal work to oppose development.

We do have some questions that need answering: (a) With the exception of really upscale homes, school districts lose money on almost all housing. I highly doubt that Savannah Green is different. The school board's deficit has been increasing while we are developing homes more expensive than those proposed at Savannah Green. I don't buy the numbers.

(b) I've been told that Savannah Green is simply the opening wedge for development to the west and northwest. DeKalb is in the midst of doing a comprehensive plan in which concerns with boundaries and growth limits are being discussed. To approve a large project prior to the completion of that plan (and the public discussion of the values explicit and implicit in such a plan) would simply be irresponsible. (c) The university owns land south of Savannah Green. Internal to the university discussions are underway (I'm sure Mac might differ but I'm on the committees that are having such discussions) about transportation within and to the campus. Traffic generated by Savannah Green would be devastating to an older over burdened road system. (And, Mac please don't tell us about the traffic impact fee; that's to the good, but the only way the fee will be sufficient to build the new roads will be if other projects are developed and that just worsens the crowding situation)

(d) The project needs to await the routing of the west bypass road. We now know where the train crossing will be and no traffic generating development should take place into plans for the west road are firm

(e) Now if you want to interest me in the project, don't take me down to Normal do the following: (i) reduce the density in Savannah Green and put in spaces that would create the subneighborhoods and put up the funds to allow children to walk to a neighborhood school (ii) Put in real parks and don't pretend that the water flow space is really open space (iii) Develop a plan of internal inclusionary housing. Eg. follow the Montgomery County model and have 10% of identically built housing be truly affordable (yes, I did reintroduce the term) (iv) Set up linkage programs e.g. have Mr. S repair (at a profit) matched homes in the older areas of the down while putting in newer homes. DeKalb is not a throw away community for older housing. (v) Spend more time on the internal planning of the project. As a plan commission member I have two hats (i) seeing how well an idea fits with DeKalb in general and (ii) making sure the internal plans etc. are up to par. No matter what my feelings are about (i) and work hard to ensure that internal planning is done well. Once others (and myself) have decided that the project is a 'go'. I switch 100% of my efforts to examining the internal plans. I am really surprised at the preliminary nature of the technical plans we have seen. Supposedly Construx is an experienced developer but the plans I've seen appear to be far more preliminary than those I've seen for other projects. If the city council in its wisdom approves this project (and as you can tell by now I hope it doesn't) the plan commission needs to have many, many technical questions answered. And, these answers have been slow in coming. (And, don't misunderstand I am not trying to delay through demands for technical plans. It is our responsibility to make sure they are in place before the city council sees the proposal. I am comparing your large project with another one (that I voted in favor of because the city council had in the past indicated support for it) that provided almost final plans for the project.

In summary, I do oppose any large project done before we have worked out the overall direction for the future of DeKalb. The press in moving this project forward while concerns with overall development and concerns for school board funding are still up in the air seems to me to be inappropriate.

In conclusion, I only wish that I as a citizen could afford to give people a bus tour, not of Normal but of the areas east of us. In these areas population has grown but the use of land and its destruction has grown even faster.

Thanks for listening

Herb Rubin

Last changed: 10/22/02

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