Jerome Township decided to move forward on the Rolling Meadows housing development.
In a 2-1 vote cast Tuesday evening, the township trustees approved the resolution that would allow the residential development to go forward.
The move came after several weeks of hearings dating back to May 26 and after an initial recommendation to approve the project from the Logan-Union-Champaign (LUC) Regional Planning Commission in February.
Trustee Joe Craft was the single vote against the measure citing the developer’s use of green space as his primary concern.
“The LUC had questions about the golf course as open space. It also appeared that maybe 15 acres of trees would be clear-cut and this is supposed to be conservation,” Craft said. “They’re keeping the golf course which is not natural and I don’t think it should be used as open space.”
Virginia Homes, the developer eyeing the land, is proposing a 210-acre residential development around the Rolling Meadows Golf Couse on Industrial Parkway that would use the existing course as required opened space.
The township zoning code lists a 20% requirement for open space for developments and although the developer is increasing that to 40%, Craft said the inclusion still doesn’t give residents what the code claims: free and open space to the public.
“I feel we’re setting a precedent that I feel may not be what we want for the township on this open space,” he said.
The issue had been a sticking point for all three trustees throughout the process. Trustee CJ Lovejoy mentioned at a previous meeting that if the board had to make the decision sooner, he might’ve voted against it.
“Ultimately, it was LUC-approved, it was zoning approved and it was for land use so I felt comfortable with it,” he said.
Trustee Ron Rhodes had a similar feeling but said that with the zoning application being in compliance with the township zoning code, there was little to no reason to turn it down.
“Everything that came back to us has been proper,” Rhodes said. “It fit the parameters of our zoning.”
Although the project will now be moving forward to a final development plan, the approved resolution didn’t come without stipulations. Trustees passed the measure with five additions:
There have to be 40-foot setbacks for lots with shared driveways.
At least five lots on the southern part of the property have to be removed.
Additional language has to be included to ensure the golf course is open to the public at all times in the future.
The developer has to pay a $500 per lot zoning review fee.
An optional contract has to be made so that if the golf course ever closes, it would go into the township’s possession first.
Some residents attending the meeting weren’t happy with the trustees’ decision.
“I’m disappointed in your decision to approve the Rolling Meadows project and respectfully request a copy of the resolution for the purpose of filing a referendum,” said Barry Adler, a resident and business owner in the township. “I stood here a couple of years ago and made the comments that I thought the trustees were supporting development without regard to residents. Your actions the last couple of years have basically shown how true that is.”
A resident has 30 days from the date of approval to file a referendum to change the decision—which, if 10% of the residents who are registered voters sign it, will then go to the township fiscal officer.
Adler said he plans to have the referendum ready by the end of the month.
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