Johnsburg committee advises against apartment complex

JOHNSBURG – An apartment complex isn’t the highest and best use of space near Johnsburg’s commercial corridor, a Johnsburg committee decided.

The Johnsburg Development and Government Affairs Committee on Wednesday unanimously decided against recommending a proposal by Banner Apartments to build an apartment complex just west of the Walmart on Route 31.

Three committee members were absent.

Banner still can take its proposal to the Johnsburg Planning and Zoning Commission and ultimately to the Village Board. Developers have not decided whether to do so, said Chris Hooker, a senior development associate with Banner.

The village needs sales-tax dollars, said Trustee Rich Janusz, the committee’s chairman. He’d rather see something more commercial, such as a business, on that property, he said.

“The goal [is ... ] to generate the most in not only property-tax dollars but, more importantly, sales-tax dollars in an effort to eventually hopefully reduce the burden of taxation on our residents,” the committee said in a letter to Banner.

“We are disappointed with the committee’s decision and do not agree that retail is the highest and best use for the site,” Hooker said in an email after the meeting.

“We appreciate that the committee has a desire to increase sources for sales-tax generation. However, federal tax credits are available to subsidize our development costs ... where no such money is available for retail development and we are unaware of how such development would proceed in the foreseeable future.”

The letter, which was written by Janusz, also pointed to an additional burden an apartment complex would place on the village’s police and fire departments.

Under Banner’s proposal, Running Brook Farm Boulevard would be continued past Walmart, and three buildings – 72 apartments in all – would be built on the south part of the 21.2-acre lot.

One Banner representative pointed out that retailers are going to prefer a location on the main road. The property under discussion is behind the Walmart, not on Route 31.

Most of the lot would be left undeveloped because Dutch Creek runs through the property, Hooker told the committee during its initial presentation.

The company planned to apply for low-income tax credits, something unusual for Johnsburg, which has only one other apartment complex.

While Hooker told the committee there is a need for affordable housing in Johnsburg, the committee’s letter responded that there is housing available in the area, maybe not in Johnsburg, but just across the village boundary in northern McHenry.

Johnsburg’s other apartment complex on Route 31 near Walmart.

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