The Oswego 308 school board voted unanimously to collect
fees for the proposed Orchard Road 906-unit apartment complex, known as the
Morris property, at the current ordinance rather than offer a fee reduction.
At a previous meeting, Rich Guerard, an attorney representing the owner of the properties, Don Morris, asked the school board to consider a reduced impact fee of $1,000 per apartment unit, or $906,000 instead of the approximate $2.6 million that would otherwise be required.
The decision followed a lengthy earlier public comment, where nearly 10 residents spoke against allowing any fee reductions to the complex.
“It’s precedent setting,” said resident Maureen Sanchez.
“You should not allow any discounts to developers, especially those who bring in more residents,” said Jan Alexander, speaking on behalf of the Kendall County Property Tax Group. “New businesses and new construction need to pay full fees and taxes to support our educational system and our community services that we all contribute to as taxpayers.”
Multiple residents also commented on the proposed 121 students the developer’s study said would be produced from the 906-unit apartment complex, many of which would have 2-3 bedrooms.
“Does that smell right?” asked Wayne Hershberger.
Fox Chase parent Chuck Corbett said he didn’t know where the developers do their math and that the complex would have many more students than suggested. “What are we going to do, start putting bleachers in the classrooms?”
Superintendent Matthew Wendt acknowledged all the comments made and said if the developer hadn’t approached the district to make this request, it would not even be an issue.
“The last thing we want to do is continue to be involved in specific projects. We want to set the fees, [have] people pay them and move on,” said Wendt.
Board member Greg O’Neil said he believed that fee negotiations are “standard protocol” for developers moving to the area. “I think he’s [the developer is coming whether he gets the $2 million [in reduced fees] or not. I think he will eventually work it out.”
O’Neil also felt that 120 was a low-balled number for proposed students.
Wendt pointed out that the district’s demographer estimated there would be between 140-150 kids in this complex, and that that number, along with other developments being planned, are all factored into the enrollment numbers for the future.
“I’m not concerned about not having the capacity for the students in the system,” said board president Bill Walsh of whatever number of students entered the district. At the previous meeting it was said the district had ample capacity and didn’t expect to need any new buildings for at least five more years.
Board member Brent Lightfoot said he was not in favor of any reductions, but would be willing to negotiate how the developer structures the payments. “Until those buildings are occupy-able, there will be no children,” he added.
Walsh put to vote the motion to collect fees at the current ordinance of 100 percent and it passed unanimously 7-0.