Lakewood approves TIF district at Route 47, 176

LAKEWOOD – A special taxing district centered on the intersection of Routes 47 and 176 was approved following two confused and lengthy meetings Tuesday evening.

The Lakewood Village Board approved the tax increment financing district in a 5-1 vote, wrapping up a meeting that skipped from a sports complex proposed for three parcels located at the center of the district to another special taxing district located in the same area that would generate sales tax dollars.

Much of the opposition at the meeting involved concern that commercial development in the area, in particular the proposed Chicagoland Sportsplex facility at Route 47 and Pleasant Valley Road, would diminish the quality of life for nearby residents while causing the property values of their homes to plummet.

The sports complex developers had requested the three parcels they’re looking to build on be rezoned from a mix of agriculture and business to just business with a planned development agreement.

The village’s three-member Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to recommend the zoning change to the Village Board, which will make the final call at a later meeting.

The developers had asked for the zoning change ahead of a development agreement and preliminary plat request because they needed to move forward with the village’s process but weren’t ready for those next steps, project manager Jack Porter said.

The project’s financiers want to see movement on the village’s side before moving forward, but the village also wants to see the financing get firmed up before making its own move, he said.

A public hearing was also held on whether to annex one of the proposed development’s parcels – 77 acres at Pleasant Valley and Hamilton roads that are currently zoned agriculture.

The Village Board will also consider that annexation at a later date – though both the annexation and zoning changes being finalized are contingent on the sports complex’s approval.

Only the TIF district reached its final step Tuesday evening.

The tool works by effectively freezing the property values local government bodies can levy taxes on and then placing the taxes collected on any added property value in a special fund.

Dollars placed in the TIF fund can be used on a variety of projects, but extending water and sewer utilities to the area is at the top of Lakewood’s list, village officials have said.

Trustee Ken Santowski, the sole no vote on the proposed district, doesn’t see the TIF generating enough dollars to cover the extension of utilities.

Without the TIF, though, the consultants hired by the village don’t see the area developing commercially, something Trustee Carl Davis said the village has been working for in an effort to diversify its revenue streams.

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