Maplewood study looks less likely in Cary

CARY – Because of the parameters presented by School District 26, a proposed study for the vacant Maplewood School property looks less likely to happen.

The village proposed a $38,000 study and market analysis, the cost of which would be split between the municipality and the school district, to help market the property. The study was proposed when the district was having trouble finding a buyer.

However, the district has a potential developer, who has not been publicly named, and proposed its own conditions on a potential study: The district would contribute if the district and the potential developer are involved in the process, the study is done in 45 days, the property sells within six months of the study being completed for what the study revealed, and that the property sells for at least $2.2 million, which is the minimum asking price set by the district. 

Village Board members said they are interested in doing the study and splitting the cost, but with no conditions from the school district.

“Our staff has taken time to do all this, and we’re doing all of this, and it’s not our property,” Trustee Karen Lukasik said. “Now they don’t want to split it with us, unless we meet their terms. ... We have too many other things that we need to get done ... we’re spinning our wheels with them when they’re not going to agree to split the bill.”

Village staff members said the study would need a minimum of 60 days to complete. It would include input from surrounding neighbors and the community, and eventually would lead to a plan for the property that would be adopted by the Village Board.

Having a plan or study in place would help attract a specific kind of developer.

“If the board has already approved a plan, and my vision meets what that plan is, I’m excited, I’m going to do that project, and I might be willing to pay more money to get that done,” said Chris Stilling, the director of community and economic development. “I don’t necessarily want to draw up $30,000 or $40,000 worth of drawings, go through a process, get my head beat in by 50 residents coming out there, and then not knowing what the outcome is going to be.”

Staff members are preparing for the possibility that a development proposal will come to the village.

“We’re forecasting the day will come when a development proposal comes in and will go through the formal process,” Village Administrator Chris Clark said.

Any proposal most likely will require a hearing in front of the board of Zoning, Planning and Appeals, notices to sent out to nearby residents, and ultimately approval by the Village Board.

“Unless it’s a school [that’s] there now, they have to come to us for anything else,” Stilling said. “The board has the complete total control over what the best fit and best interest for the village of Cary, in meeting certain parameters, certain guidelines, and things such as compatibility with the neighborhood, goals and objectives of the village.”

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