Neighborhood News & Events

LaFox shows how it's done
Kane County Chronicle, February 25, 2007

What a difference teamwork can make.

Six years ago, LaFox residents vehemently fought against a proposal 1,600-home development between Geneva and Elburn. Residents put up signs protesting the planned Grand Prairie project and rallied together to form the Concern LaFox Area Residents.

Unhappy residents foreseeing plenty of problems with such a development being shoved upon them got support from Kane County Board members and others and were able to get the developer to pull the plug on the proposal before it ever got off the ground.

Although strong and vocal enough to win the battle, residents also were smart enough to realize that next them they might not be so lucky. Time passed, and after one development team walked away from the project, another one stepped up.

Residents easily could have brought out the signs again, along with a not-in-our-backyard mentality. They could have rallied the troops and refused to budge.

But they didn't. They decided that instead of just giving a thumbs up or down to what was presented, they would have an impact. They started to talk with the developer about how the housing development could compliment the existing community. The new developer could have drawn up plans based on what it wanted, discounting residents' concerns and feelings, and taken its chances getting municipal support for the project and snubbing the residents. But, to its credit it didn't.

Residents and the development team showed a great spirit of cooperation in working together to make the development, Settlements of LaFox, a reality. The resident-development partnership means 325 fewer units will be built; impact fees will be collected for roads; residents will help establish a homeowners association for the 12-neighborhood development; and the development's sales office eventually will be turned over the residents' group for use of a public building.

While the first subdivision plan failed with a majority of the town being against it and St. Charles shooting it down, the second development team did not repeat past mistakes. The project blossomed into one that gained the approval of a Kane County committee without a dissenting vote.

It is a credit to both the developer and residents for creating a community the proper way- with resident input and planning. Other resident groups and developers shoudl take note of how cooperation can achieve more and they could keep this scenario in mind when other developments are being mapped out.

There is much that still needs to be decided for the development - possible assisted living facilities, Habitat for Humanity homes and creating access to the Metra station. A cooperative effort involving the residents, developer and affected municipal governments much continue if this project is to be a positive impact on the village and surrounding areas.