Wheaton City Council voted 5-2 Monday to recommend city staff prepare changes to the Courthouse Square development plan to allow for on the property.
At a public hearing, representatives of the developer, Courthouse Land Development, LLC and the city said the proposed amendments to the 2005 development plan would be legal and in conformance with Tax Increment Financing (TIF) requirements.
Councilman Todd Scalzo said he thinks residents at existing Courthouse Square properties should understand Council’s recommendation does not expand nor limit the developer’s rights.
“The question tonight is, ‘Can this be done?’… And the answer to that is, ‘Yes,’” he said. “It does not answer the ultimate question which is, ‘Should it be done?’”
In 2005, City Council approved the “Courthouse Redevelopment Project Area Plan and Program” (CRPAPP), establishing a redevelopment plan and TIF for the Courthouse Square property. The plan called for redevelopment of the area for condos and townhomes. When market conditions changed with the onset of the recession and housing market distress in 2008, only a portion of the plan had been executed, according to a letter city consultant Steve Friedman wrote to Council March 28.
Michael Laube, representative for the developer, said the proposed amendment does not significantly change the original plan, “except maybe changing and affecting the general land uses.”
Councilwoman Evelyn Pacino-Sanguinetti and Councilman Tom Mouhelis voted against the recommendation. Pacino-Sanguinetti said she does not believe the proposal is consistent with the city plan.
Mouhelis said he was not in favor of the change, as residents who bought property at Courthouse Square were “promised a certain aspect” of the remaining development—which did not include senior housing.
Councilman Phil Suess motioned Council’s recommendation to staff. “This moves it on to the next step,” he said. “…We have a proposal in front of us. It’s the only proposal in front of us.”
Wheaton Mayor Mike Gresk said while he regrets the current state of the economy and that home values have plummeted, “This is a legitimate plan.”
City staff will prepare an official ordinance amending the TIF plan for Council's future consideration.