Our view: Residential development should be encouraged in Crystal Lake

The Crystal Lake City Council likes a developer’s proposal for a residential development on about 60 acres of vacant farmland near downtown – and so do we.

Kenneth Rawson presented his plan to the council on Nov. 21 for the land north of the Crystal Lake Business Center on the east side of Main Street. When it first was presented to planning and zoning commissioners, they were concerned about traffic in the area and that the project was too dense.

The land was considered in 2007 as a mixed-use development that later was amended to feature industrial buildings on its east end with small commercial sites closer to Main Street, but 10 years later, it sits empty.

At a time when many residents are leaving McHenry County and Illinois because of high property taxes and opportunities elsewhere, growth in the area should be encouraged.

Bringing development to the property would help spread out the tax burden that residents face. It also could boost business in Crystal Lake – or at least help the city hang on to the retailers and other businesses it already has.

The preliminary plan calls for 360 living units consisting of single-family homes, New England-style row houses and townhouses. It’s aimed at meeting the needs of three different types of homebuyer – the 55-and-older crowd who doesn’t want to live in a senior community, millennials looking for their first or second home, and those looking to downsize, Rawson has said.

The neighborhood would feature common areas, dog parks and water fountains.

Mayor Aaron Shepley said the neighborhood would be close to a lot of amenities, the downtown area and the Route 14 corridor. He also said it could help attract younger, would-be commuters who work in Chicago and want to hop onto the train at the nearby Metra station.

“Overall, I think it would be very beneficial for Crystal Lake on the whole, but downtown Crystal Lake specifically,” Shepley previously said.

The project’s wide appeal to different homebuyers and proximity to downtown businesses and Route 14 makes it a good fit.

The next step at the city level for the project is to go through the process to get annexation and zoning approvals. We hope that the city is diligent in its approval process, and makes sure any traffic and density concerns are addressed.

If it’s done right, the project could be a great benefit to the area.

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