“We live here. You don’t.”
What could the table full of developers say to that?
It was clear in Island Lake last night that the days of development companies coming to small towns to sell their visions for improving these communities by giving them gas stations and restaurants, attractive housing for seniors, upscale homes for young families, and a chicken in every pot are over. The curtain has been drawn back and the charade exposed.
As one resident said, “You are here to get the zoning on this property so you can turn-around and sell it and make your money.” (Wow, where was that guy 8 years ago during the go-go land development times?)
Let’s be clear. No one is against someone making money. What people object to is when someone uses someone else (in a less than genuine way) to make their money.
Like the snake oil salesmen of old, the land speculators roll in to town with the supposed cure for all that ails the residents, and leave as soon as the money has been made. And the townsfolk are left with a bad taste in their mouths – and a costly lesson.
Just because the development company paid a lot of money for the former Rimas Lodge property on the shores of Griswold Lake does not mean they are entitled to get to develop it the way they want. There is a public process for determining what development is appropriate for a given area. There are traffic studies to be done, environmental assessments to conduct, groundwater recharge concerns, school impacts, municipal water system capacity to consider and much more.
Well, at last night’s continuation of the Village’s March Planning Commission meeting, the residents of Island Lake made it abundantly clear that they value the natural resources and small town character of their community. They made it clear that traffic in the River Road/Route 176 area is already a mess, and the last thing they need are several thousand more vehicle trips filling the local roads each day.
And besides, as was pointed out, there is no demand for housing in the area, evidenced by the fact that there is already a lot of capacity on the books. For example, the Walnut Glen subdivision in town has just 36 homes built and 228 empty lots. That developer is gone, and it is unclear what will happen with the remaining parts of that subdivision.
On election day, April 10th, the Village residents came out in great numbers to elect a new Village President (who was President until 8 years ago), Charles Amrich, based at least in part on their displeasure with the Rimas Lodge proposed development that the prior administration appeared to favor.
The people who live in Island Lake have spoken. They aren’t in the market for any snake oil.
The Planning Commission will reconvene to continue hearing from the public on May 30th at 7pm.