Proposed senior housing near Krape Park in Freeport makes next step in long process – Freeport Journal-Standard

Todd McKenna  |  Special to The Journal-Standard

FREEPORT — Freeport City Council members heard more debate Monday over a proposed senior housing development near Krape Park before moving the controversial project forward for the next step in a long process.

The council heard the first reading of an ordinance for a map amendment to the zoning of the property at 1601 S. Park Blvd., where the development would be located. Monday’s discussion only involved the zoning aspect of the development and is expected to be the first of many meetings concerning the project.

Park Partners LLC is proposing building 16 duplex units which will be marketed to people age 55 and older. It would be a fenced and gated community and cost an estimated $6.4 million. The development would need roads, curbs, water and sewer mains and storm sewer pipes. A walking path also would be installed to link it with the existing recreation path that goes into Krape Park.

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But any actual construction is a long way off as the project is just beginning to wind its way through the council review process. 

To move the project forward, the council passed a motion to hold a second reading of the zoning map amendment ordinance at its Aug. 2 meeting. If approved, the final plat for the project still would have to be approved.

The final plat would begin its journey through the process at the Freeport Planning Commission level at some point in the future. If the project gets to that point, that meeting before the Planning Commission would be open to the public and residents again could express their views on the proposed townhomes at Demeter Drive and Park Boulevard near the entrance to Krape Park

Several residents attended the council meeting Monday to express opinions both for and against the project. Former Freeport Realtor Jeannine Ohlinger lives near the proposed site and said she doesn’t want the beauty and charm of the neighborhood destroyed. 

“I’ve lived near here since 1986 and (this project) is not acceptable to the neighborhood citizens,” she said. “The proposed retention pond would be a total eyesore next to the roadway, and where is the (homeowners association) going to put the snow that’s plowed in the winter? It’s going to be a scar on this city.” 

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Freeport resident Paul Rampenthal supports the project and said the additional money from property taxes is needed. 

“It’s a well-needed addition to the property tax revenue,” he said. “The city is on a limited budget.” 

He also said the townhomes could spur further development to encourage Freeport officials to link Fairway Drive to Oakhill Drive to allow another entrance for traffic and emergency vehicles into the area to help alleviate potential traffic congestion. 

Alan Nowicki lives in the neighborhood and said council members need to look beyond the dollars the project would generate. 

“This is not a question of more tax revenue. Every other proposed development in the past has promised the same things and many have yet to be completed,” he said. “I’m not against development, just this one. If we’re not desperate, we could hold out for other new developments.” 

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One of the partners in Park Partners LLC is Todd Weegens, who also lives across the street from where the senior townhomes would be built. He told the council this would be an appropriate use for the property and breathe life into a dormant area. 

“This property has been vacant since 2006. We knew there would be opposition and we ask you to weigh that versus the benefit to the whole community,” he said. “It fits precisely with the city’s comprehensive plan. When was the last time a development like this was proposed for Freeport?” 

The Freeport Zoning Board of Appeals previously voted against approving the zoning map amendment while the Planning Commission voted 2-2 with two members absent. 

Council members said much more discussion will be had before any final decision is made.

“We haven’t had this much investment potential in some time. There needs to be more discussion between the city and the developers,” said Patrick Busker, 5th Ward alderperson. “We need to do more homework.” 

First Ward Alderperson Eric Borneman agreed and said Monday’s meeting was just the first step in a long process. 

Todd McKenna is a freelance correspondent