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Irongate housing proposal tabled until after election

Published: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

DEKALB – The proposed Irongate subdivision won’t be discussed again until a new DeKalb City Council is seated to debate the 1,273-home proposal.

On Monday, council members postponed another vote on Irongate, which would sit on about 458 acres north of DeKalb High School, to their May 28 meeting.

Outgoing DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen was a vocal supporter of the development during Monday’s public hearing. He said he hoped other council members would see the benefits Irongate will bring to the city.

“We do not have a market here for those higher-end homes, so I do hope the City Council has a vision to move forward,” Povlsen said. “While we need to address some of these issues, it’s prudent to address these issues, that we keep an open mind and think of the future rather than the immediacy of today.”

Annexation agreements for developments require six affirmative votes. Kristen Lash and Monica O’Leary, of the 3rd and 7th wards, respectively, stated they are not supporting Irongate, and they are not up for re-election this April. That means all the other members of the council need to support the proposal for it to pass.

The majority of the candidates for City Council – Stephen Clark and Bill Finucane for the 2nd Ward, James Mitchell and Bob Snow for the 4th Ward – and mayor – Mike Verbic, John Rey, Jennifer Groce and David Jacobson – expressed skepticism about approving Irongate in its current form.

Jacobson presently is the 1st Ward alderman, so he will vote on the proposal either as mayor or as an alderman. Jacobson said if ShoDeen President Dave Patzelt can answer all of the questions the council has, he would vote for the project.

“The market is going to decide the demand, and when and if those homes are ever purchased, and I am OK with that,” Jacobson said.

Finucane expressed similar sentiments. If the developers address concerns such as drainage, he could see himself voting for the project.

All of the mayoral candidates plus Mitchell, the 4th Ward alderman candidate, said they want to see a plan of action for the National Bank & Trust Square, a commercial development ShoDeen was supposed to build along Lincoln Highway, next to Walgreen’s, 100 W. Lincoln Highway.

“I think ShoDeen could benefit from focusing on the NB&T property,” Rey said. “They’re bringing a new product with the community – a community within the community – but I am not seeing evidence that ShoDeen is paying attention to the larger community around that community.”

Groce said even if ShoDeen were to come back with a plan that fully met the council’s needs, a larger conversation on the project is needed.

“The question for me is: ‘What impact would this development have on our market?’ ” Groce said. “I think we need to take this time and ask what would happen to our existing housing stock.”

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