Developer of 100 home subdivision for homeless people narrows choice down to Sycamore or Waterman
comments: 3 addendums: 0
Now that I have your attention, I shall begin my rant.
There is no developer, I know of, who is seeking to build a subdivision for homeless people in Sycamore or Waterman. A developer can't get an affordable housing project approved for median income DeKalb County residents much less a population of homeless people. Would it fly in your neighborhood?
This November 2nd, voters in Waterman will be asked to decide the following referendum question:
Shall the citizens of the Village of Waterman, County of DeKalb, State of Illinois direct the Village Board of Waterman, IL to slow growth in the Village of Waterman by adopting an ordinance to limit the number of building permits issued to more than fifty (50) each year for new housing and to deny any future annexations of land for subdivision for new housing developments, except housing for the physically challenged, homeless or senior citizens, for a period of fifteen (15) years, to abate the impact on the Village of Waterman and the Indian Creek School District of the recently annexed Deerfield Crossing Subdivision and Green Ridge Subdivisions. (YES or NO)
If this referendum reads like the one that passed in Sycamore in the primary elections this Spring then consider that members of Sycamore's CARE group advised Debra Sproston, founder of Waterman's REAL group, on strategy.
Sproston, a recent transplant into Waterman, says she does not want the village to become like her previous residence in a Fox Valley community. After all, she moved to Waterman to get away from all that growth. She has assumed a leadership position in shaping the future of Waterman.
Stepping up and getting involved in community affairs is a good thing. Every community needs more Sprostons to ask questions and demand answers. But those who step up from that role into community leadership should hold themselves accountable to a minimum of at least conducting and concluding unbiased research on the issue they take issue with. That is what we expect from our elected and appointed community leaders. That is what Sproston accuses the Waterman Village Board of not doing.
Sproston is mimicking or acting on advice from members of the Sycamore CARE group. Her primary academic source of research is the book, Better Not Bigger, authored by Eban Fodor. The book has become an action guide for anti-growth activists across the country.
In his book, Fodor cites study after study from across the 50 states as background material to suggest that a few greedy developers have coerced local governmental units into suburban sprawl by subsidizing growth at the expense of existing taxpayers. The only real winners in growth, contends Fodor, are industries, landowners, developers, mortgage bankers, realtors, general contractors, subcontractors, building material and furnishing suppliers, architects, engineers, lawyers, consultants and retail businesses, etc.
Add up the number of employees of the aforementioned "winners" and subtract them, plus the number of government employees, from the population. Guess what? There is no one left. Fodor fails to complete this argument. And that is a very real argument here in DeKalb County as more than 25% of our entire workforce is employed by the government.
Fodor believes urban revitalization is better than urban growth. I agree. I think most do. But urban revitalization requires tremendous investment often from public sources such as CDBG and TIFF grants. Public investment is mandatory in residential revitalization if affordability is even remotely considered. Fodor fails to complete this argument as well.
Waterman is not an urban community. Debra Sproston did not live in Waterman when it had its own school district as did the other communities in the Indian Creek Consolidated School District. Waterman, Shabbona and Lee lost their own school districts because of declining or stagnant population and an eroding commercial/industrial tax base.
Sproston has publicly attacked the integrity of the members of the Waterman Village Board. She accuses them of pandering to those greedy developers and ignoring the best interests of the residents. She implies under-the-table dealing between Mayor Roger Bosworth, board members and the developers. She has claimed that Kennedy Real Estate, developers of the Green Ridge subdivision, would have sales models open for business this November. Its November and Green Ridge is still farmland.
In the first Waterman Growth Summit, an initiative of village board member, Mark Todd, Sproston participated as a representative of REAL. It was apparent to anyone in attendance that Sproston came to the meeting to promote her agenda. Before the meeting was over she was complaining that most of the rest of the committee were biased towards growth.
The Village of Waterman accepted the County of DeKalb's help in formulating a comprehensive plan. Part of the process are public hearings held to get citizen input. None of the active members of REAL, at least those in attendance and participating in the Growth Summit Committee meeting, attended one of the public hearings. Waterman is not an urban community. A concerned citizen can easily find out what the village board is up to.
At the Growth Summit meeting representatives from the fire district, township, school and library districts, and the village board, all talked about how they, when tax cap laws were put into place, chose not to "gouge" tax payers by going after maximum tax rate levies. That would suggest that the residents of Waterman are served by caring and responsible government leaders.
I about fell out of my chair when the Indian Creek School District superintendent said that his district has a five year plan. Imagine that, DeKalb tax payers, a school district with a five year financial plan! :-)
If Growth Summit sounds familiar to DeKalb residents, well, as a member of that committee, I highly recommend, should you want to shut down residential growth, reading Eban Fodor's book. Try to get every local taxing unit to attend a series of meetings and reach a consensus conclusion and you'll kill a lot of time. By the way, since DeKalb's Growth Summit there has not been a major residential annexation even attempted.
Of course, my dear friends at the Daily Chronicle covered this meeting with their usual ineptitude. The school superintendent was badly misquoted as were others in their front page news story. I understand that calls were made and the Chronicle printed a retraction somewhere in a subsequent edition. I must have missed it.
Sproston and her REAL group have not considered some very relevant "what ifs" to their referendum question.
What if parts of their "ordinance" is illegal? Have they asked for legal advice? Who would pay to straighten it out?
What if the proposed subdivisions fail to sell? Will Waterman be restricted from approving another subdivision and therefore again be subjected to stagnate or declining population and tax base?
What if economic development experts are right and the commercial/industrial entities Waterman, like all other DeKalb County communities, are trying to attract need more rooftops than Waterman has now?
What if the REAL referendum passes? Will property taxes go up or down?
What if the various governmental units that will receive from $150 to $5,000 from each building permit issued at these subdivisions need the money?
What if village board members are telling Waterman residents the truth about aging infrastructure problems the community is facing and how, without the new developments, repairs could cost existing tax payers $5,000 more in additional taxes?
What if the referendum passes and a developer decides, based on the wording of the referendum, that a majority of tax payers would support a subdivision for homeless people?
Here's hoping that the voters of Waterman examine the wording and ramifications of the REAL referendum more carefully than those in Sycamore did.
Date: Thursday October 28, 2004
Time: 10:21 AM -0400
As a 12 year resident of Waterman I am voting no on Nov 2. For all the reasons listed by yourself, the Village reps and the Builders themselves. I am a carpenter and have built homes for Kennedy homes and not only do I feel that they are high quality but my wife Robin and I cant wait to see them so we can decide if we are to stay in Waterman. You see, we want to buy a new home and the choices are very limited in town. I also have considered opening a fast food place myself, but it cant happen without growth. Also, in the future the village board can restrict builders with a # of permits in the contracts if we need that. I feel our village board has done a great job here. I don't always agree with them but after attending meetings and listening to the answers, I feel that they were prepared and did a respectable job. Those who don't believe so should run for office this spring. We have 3 board spots open as well as village president. Thanks see ya at the polls on nov.2. Feel free to use my name.
J. Keith Goins
Date: Thursday October 28, 2004
Time: 09:26 AM -0400
I missed that retraction you are talking about, too. I thought the superintendent sounded rather unintelligent when he said that ANY further growth would quadruple enrollment. How does he figure that? I'd also like to know how he thinks its smart to cut $150,000 to prepare for growth.
Editor's note: Those are two of the misquotes I was referring to. The superintendent said that the construction of new schools could quadruple capital improvement costs. He said the district has made some hard cuts, I believe last year a total of $150,000, due to a deficit budget brought about by slow but steady decline in enrollment. The Chronicle regrets the error, according to them.
Date: Thursday October 28, 2004
Time: 7:24 AM -0400
I appreciate your honesty in discussing this important issue. As a lifelong resident of Waterman I remember fondly the great rivalry between Waterman and Shabbona high schools. I also remember a livelier downtown.
Date: Sunday October 31, 2004
Time: 11:09 AM -0500
Growth is a necessity for every community. The costs to run the services people require continue to escalate. The only way to keep things as they are today and pay these bills is to increase taxes, period. The smart way to do this is to allow growth but to be responsible with how that growth is planned. City boards should not always take every project that is out there. City boards should understand what the needs are for the community and what will be needed in the future. This means needs for education but also not forgetting sewer and water needs, streets, police and fire, parks, and library. When a developer approaches a community about developing in that the community, this is the time that the community should lay out on the table what is going to be required of that developer if he is to build here. Impact fees do little but to pay misc. costs and most of the time, wages. Most districts are not using the impact fees in the correct way that they were intended thus meaning that in most districts, the impact monies are useless when truly needed. Annexation agreements up front when the developer is planning the project is the time to get what the city needs. Be it a new grade school, additions to police and fire departments, infrastructure work in the ways of sewer and water, storm water retention, and roadways. The developer is always more anxious and willing to meet up front demands in order to get their development going, but we must also remember that the city must be reasonable with their requests so that they do not lose the proverbial "goose that lays the golden eggs".
All communities need to increase their tax base. Houses cannot do this alone. Businesses are needed to help this goal. The most important thing is that business cannot survive unless there are roof tops so that there are people to patronize those businesses. When people spend dollars in the community that they live in, they help make that community stronger by keeping those dollars working day in and day out. Businesses pay real estate taxes and also sales taxes. They also give jobs to people who in turn start the whole cycle over again and spend those dollars within the community. It a never ending cycle but it is a cycle that must be started.
Growth is a good thing in a community as long as it is done responsibly. Yes people make money with these developments but they do spend a lot of money within the community during the development.
Unfortunately, most of the real complainers today about growth is from the people who in recent years moved here from another community. They found their "heaven" and now they'll be damned if anyone else is going to have a piece of it. Greedy and selfish is all I can say of these people. I have had the pleasure over the years to meet many people from Waterman. These people are not like the new breed represented by these anti growth groups. They are people who have pride and roots in their community and wish to stay there. Survival of a small community today truly does require growth. What is next for Waterman if they do not allow growth? Isn't it bad enough that the schools were forced to merge? What is next Waterman? Tuesday starts the answer.
Builder and developer