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Huntley residents raise concerns with proposed commercial, residential complex

Huntley residents concerned about traffic, density caused by development

HUNTLEY – Dozens of concerned residents showed up to Huntley’s Plan Commission meeting Monday for a public hearing on a controversial development at the northwest corner of Route 47 and Mill Street.

Mike Skala, a Huntley businessman and McHenry County Board member, wants to develop a commercial and residential complex on a long vacant 17-acre site.

Current plans call for three apartment buildings, four 16-unit townhouses, eight single-family homes and four 76,000-square-foot commercial office buildings.

Residents are worried about traffic, density and whether the site is a good location for a complex of the proposed size.

Neighbor Kurt Blanken said he also was concerned about losing the space and potential effects on groundwater.

“It’s not the development itself,” he said. “It’s the location. That empty field is the crown jewel of green space for Huntley.”

Blanken said he had reservations about the length of time the complex could take to build.

Skala intends to build the development in eight phases, and there isn’t a current timetable he must stick to.

The first phase would include one 36-unit apartment building and its parking and stormwater management, the second would include two commercial buildings and parking.

Phase 3 would include marketing and building the singe-family homes.

Phase 4 would include a 54-unit apartment building and its parking. Phase 5 would include the construction of a third commercial building.

Phases 6 and 7 would complete the housing with the addition of a 42-unit apartment building and the townhouses, and Phase 8 would complete the project with a final commercial building, according to city documents.

Skala said he has lived in Huntley since 1989, has seen the village grow and wants to continue to work toward revitalization.

“I feel the community has continued to grow and move in a positive direction,” he said. “My vision is to continue that.”

Skala said that he has spoken with residents about their concerns and tried to make changes accordingly.

“Have we met everything they asked for? No,” he said. “And quite honestly, we can’t. We would have a blank piece of property if that were the case.”

The complex fits into Huntley’s comprehensive plan, Skala said.

“After I bought this property, the village and I sat down and looked at the comprehensive plan,” he said. “We tried to meet the comprehensive plan, and I believe we have met it exactly.”

Resident Ed Allison said that he supported the project until he saw a traffic study, which showed the effects the proposal would have on already heavy traffic routes.

“There are a lot of dire, dire implications here,” he said. “We understand about the retail and the stuff. It looks beautiful. But I ask you to look at the nitty gritty and the details of the traffic study.”

Commission members didn’t take action Monday, and the matter will return before them in June. Once commissioners make a decision, their recommendation will be forwarded to the Village Board for final approval.

Commission member Darci Chandler said she agreed with several points that residents made.

“You are [proposing to] add 300 people to this area,” she said. “That is quite the jump and a big change. ... You are trying to put too much in, and it is not going to work.”

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