McHenry continues the debate on whether to reduce its impact fees to spur residential development in its stagnant housing complexes.
City Council members last week had mixed opinions on a plan to reduce impact fees by 50 percent for two years to jump-start development in at least two housing complexes where homebuilding has stalled since the economic downturn.
McHenry’s Community Development committee approved the plan at its last meeting, but not all aldermen are convinced the plan is a good one.
“It’s an indirect hit to the taxpayers,” Ward 2 Alderman Andrew Glab said.
He added that when the city expanded its water treatment facility it was in anticipation of increased development.
“These facilities were expanded for the development of the homes we are talking about right now,” he said. “This was planned 20 or more years ago and fees were set to help pay upfront for the investment the city made. I don’t think it’s in the best interest for the average resident of McHenry to reduce those fees.”
The conversation comes on the heels of a request from national homebuilder D.R. Horton, which plans to buy 86 lots and build houses in the Oaks of Irish Prairie subdivision if a 50 percent reduction of fees can be locked in.
Other developers have requested similar deals, City Administrator Derik Morefield said. McHenry has a total of 344 empty lots in its unfinished housing complexes, including Legend Lakes, Patriot Estates, Lincoln Hill, Liberty Trails and the Oaks at Irish Prairie, according to city documents.
Neighboring municipalities, such as Woodstock, Spring Grove, the county itself, Huntley, Richmond and several others, have reduced building fees in some form.
Ward 7 Alderwoman Geri Condon – who also is on the community development committee – said that while she didn’t want to see a long-term fee reduction, she favors the two-year, 50 percent reduction.
“While I appreciate the fact that 50 percent is huge, it is better than nothing and that is what we will get,” she said.
“There is such a value to our community to get these developers in and spearhead the development that we haven’t had in a decade or so.”
The council is expected to continue its discussion at its Sept. 24 meeting.