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Cary's draft comprehensive plan under review

Plan focuses on economic, residential growth while maintaining small-town feel

CARY – The area around Jack’s Channel could include boat slips, a hotel and a convention center, according to a vision for the village’s future.

That same vision includes an adjusted alignment of Route 14 in the downtown area, and residential development at the site of the vacant Maplewood school.

And as the village develops, it should preserve its small town character.

The ideas are part of Cary’s draft of the comprehensive plan that will be reviewed over the next two months. The process of updating the village’s comprehensive plan began in October of last year.

The draft comprehensive plan is scheduled to be presented at an open house; at a public hearing by the Board of Zoning, Planning and Appeals; and at a Village Board meeting.

When the comprehensive plan is completed, the guide document will drive long-term land-use decisions in the village, as well as future growth and infrastructure improvements, said director of community and economic development Chris Stilling.

The comprehensive plan also gives developers an idea of what the village wants to see in certain areas of town, and to see if their visions match those of the community’s, Stilling said.

“It makes their life easier when making decisions on that big investment,” Stilling said.

The plan will serve as 20-year guiding document, Stilling said.

Among the items listed in the draft plan are goals and objectives. One of the objectives says Cary should preserve its small town character while thriving economically.

Village Hall and the police department should be relocated to a new, centrally located facility, according to one of the draft objectives. The village has started setting aside money for the potential new village hall and police station.

The plan calls for maintaining and expanding high-quality housing opportunities that cater to residents at all stages of their life, including seniors, young professionals and new families.

Among the housing objectives included is encouraging new multifamily housing in and near downtown, and around the village. It also calls for promoting more intense transit-oriented developments, including a mix of residential and commercial uses in areas that are within walking distance to downtown and Metra stops.

The draft objectives for downtown include working with the Illinois Department of Transportation to look at an alternative alignment for Route 14 and Main Street to enhance vehicular and pedestrian flow and safety.

The village should also work toward improving wayfinding signs downtown and increase the number of festivals and special events downtown, the draft plan says.

The draft plan calls for the village to work with Cary District 26 to assure responsible redevelopment of the vacant Maplewood School with a combination of single-family attached and multifamily housing. The plan recommends tearing down Maplewood, unless a desirable adaptive reuse of the vacant school can be found.

In hopes of seeing economic development, the village should encourage the location of retailers, service providers and eateries along Three Oaks Road, west of Route 14, the plan says. The village also should facilitate development of the Jack’s Channel area as a destination featuring a mix of commercial development, a hotel, convention center, entertainment and marina.

There also is potential for retail development on Route 14 close to Jandus Cutoff Road, according to the draft comprehensive plan.

The draft plan calls for working with Metra, the Union Pacific Railroad, IDOT and property owners to relocate the Metra station to the west side of the railroad tracks. Stations are usually located on the inbound side of the tracks, but Cary’s station is on the outbound side.

It also includes statements on studying the potential for an additional river crossing to reduce the reliance on Route 14.

It suggests the village work with the Regional Transportation Authority, Pace Suburban Bus and McHenry County about examining the potential for a fixed bus route service in Cary.

The village also should establish a loan or grant program to provide assistance to businesses in making enhancements to their properties, the plan says.

The village hired Houseal Lavigne Associates for $99,000 to put together the comprehensive plan, and conduct public workshops and online surveys.

The consultants provided an outsider’s perspective and helped come up with ideas that residents and business owners may have envisioned themselves, Stilling said.

Stilling said the comprehensive plan would be a “living, breathing document that [is] constantly being evaluated.”

“One of the tasks, once adopted, is we should constantly be making sure we’re implementing and always going through and evaluating how we’re performing with implementing the strategies identified,” Stilling said.

Comprehensive Plan review schedule

• Oct. 16: Steering Committee and Public open house

• Oct. 30: Public hearing before the Board of Zoning, Planning and Appeals

• Nov. 6: Second public hearing, if necessary

• Nov. 18: Village Board Committee of the Whole

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