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Irongate plan gets first approval

Development still needs DeKalb’s approval on second reading

DeKALB – Irongate, a 1,200-unit housing development proposed for the city’s northside, appears to have gained the support from DeKalb City Council members that it needs, but final approval hasn’t been granted yet.

In a 6-2 vote at Monday’s City Council meeting, the proposed subdivision and its associated annexation agreement passed on first reading and will come back for the final sign-off from the council at its next meeting. Annexation agreements require six “yes” votes.

Third Ward Alderwoman Kristen Lash and 1st Ward Alderman David Jacobson voted against the proposal.

On July 22, when the council last voted directly on the proposed subdivision, which would occupy 458 acres of land located between Bethany and Dresser roads near DeKalb High School, the vote was split, 4-4.

Since then, the project’s developer, Shodeen, has worked with the park district and the school district to address concerns that both had with the plan. On Monday, the City Council reviewed those revisions and signed off with minor changes.

Fourth Ward Alderman Bob Snow captured the sentiment of the majority.

“I think we need to ensure that there is a steady, controlled increase in housing in DeKalb,” he said. “Is it a gamble? Perhaps, but it’s a gamble with the developer’s money – not the city’s money. If there’s any hope of keeping taxes lower ... it provides that steady growth that will help keep taxes down.”

Sixth Ward Alderman Dave Baker previously had voted against Irongate, but owner agreements that
ensure townhomes built in the development cannot be rented out eased his concerns.

Townhomes also cannot be built on the land until 300 single-family homes have been constructed.

“Everything I was looking for is now supported,” he said. “... Hopefully, we got it right this time.”

Lash said she has consistently voted against the proposal because residents have expressed concerns to her about the developer as well as similar developments that have been attempted in other communities and the availability of vacant lots in DeKalb.

“I know I’m going to get a lot of calls and a lot of emails from people ... telling me that they appreciated my “no” vote,” she said.

The latest Irongate proposal includes more park land, 11 acres that could be used for an elementary school and two – down from three – church sites.

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