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DeKalb City Council to take up Irongate development talks today

Two aldermen, mayor have changed since last discussion

Published: Monday, July 22, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – The DeKalb City Council will once again discuss annexing the proposed Irongate development at today’s meeting, the first time it has done so in four months.

City staff members have been working on various issues related to the 1,273-unit development since March, interim City Manager Rudy Espiritu said.

“Overall, I think staff is looking at this as a positive development for the city,” Espiritu said. “The housing study, done in conjunction with the Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University, identified a need for higher-end housing. This development will provide that.”

The City Council could vote on the annexation agreement if at least six aldermen are present. Annexation agreements require six aldermen voting “yes.” Monday’s meeting will be the first time Mayor John Rey, 2nd Ward Alderman Bill Finucane and 4th Ward Alderman Bob Snow will discuss it as members of the council.

If approved, ShoDeen Construction would build 1,273 homes on 458 acres of land located between Bethany Road and Dresser Road. City officials estimate that the buildout would occur over about a 20-year period. The houses would vary in size between 50-foot lots and 80-foot lots, with each lot being 125 feet long.

In addition, 123 town houses would be included, as well 350 units for a senior housing development located within Irongate. There also is land set aside for commercial development, parks and a possible elementary school site.

Aldermen at past meetings have voiced skepticism about the project, particularly about the need for new houses when there are about 300 lots available for construction in other areas. City officials believe an improving economy will absorb Irongate and these lots.

There’s also a fear among some aldermen that Irongate could become another rental community. As it stands, there’s nothing in the annexation agreement preventing homeowners from renting their properties, said Derek Hiland, the city’s principal planner.

“The code does address ... it has these thresholds that, prior to any town house being constructed or a 50-foot lot ... 350 of the 60-, 70- or 80-foot lots need to be constructed before a town house or a 50-foot can be built,” Hiland said. “Assuming the rate of growth, it could be 10 years or more before we see one townhouse constructed in the Irongate development.”

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