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updated: 5/21/2020 7:46 PM

Sugar Grove de-annexes site of controversial warehouse plan near I-88

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Sugar Grove has de-annexed much of the land near I-88 and Route 47 where a developer proposed building a controversial business park.

The owner, a Crown Community Development company, requested the deannexation of about 600 acres of the 760-acre site in February, Village President Sean Michels said. The village board approved it Tuesday.

Crown was allowed to do so under the terms of a 2013 annexation agreement. Company officials felt it was not going to get village approval for the needed zoning changes.

Crown bought the land between 2001 and 2006. When it was annexed in 2013, the village zoned it as "estate residential," which allows just one house per acre.

But in 2014, the village amended its comprehensive land-use plan, calling for the area to be used for business.

Crown's $645 million plan called mostly for business uses. The first phase of construction would have been 4 million square feet of warehouses and industrial buildings. It said the site was ideal for e-commerce distribution centers.

But hundreds of people attended plan commission hearings in January and February 2019 to protest, citing concerns with traffic, emissions, noise and disruption. The developer withdrew its application.

Afterward, Crown met with individual trustees to discuss the development.

"Every single board member that is on this call wants to work with Crown. We want them to develop their property," Trustee Heidi Lendi said May 5, during a village board meeting conducted by telephone.

Lendi opposed the development. Two write-in candidates, who ran because of the project, won election in April 2019, along with Lendi.

As part of the annexation agreement, Crown paid $625,000 toward converting the Route 47 interchange to a full interchange.

"It (the annexation) was a success to bring in the interchange," Michels said.

After striking out in Sugar Grove, Crown approached Elburn about annexing the land. Elburn President Jeff Walter said the village would not consider it as long as the land was still in Sugar Grove.

To connect to Elburn, Crown would have to get owners of a small residential subdivision, some larger residential parcels and some farmland to annex so the Crown site would be contiguous.

On Thursday, Walter said Crown officials have not spoken to him or Elburn village staff members recently, nor has any request been submitted to the village.

There's always the possibility Sugar Grove could revisit the issue.

"We're hopeful we can find a development that would bring Crown back," Michels said.