Questions raised about property not owned by the village being included East Dundee’s riverfront plan – Chicago Tribune

Richard Storm’s been happy with the East Dundee house he’s called home for 45 years so when he was told anonymously last week that his South River Street property might be in jeopardy, he was upset, he said.

“I came home and found this little note under my door that (said) the village can come take your property away,” Storm said at Monday night’s East Dundee Village Board meeting.

The note referenced the village’s proposed riverfront redevelopment plan so he looked it up on the village website.

Hitchcock Design Group and WBK Engineering created this concept design to show what a new riverfront park could look like if built near the former Haeger Potteries site in East Dundee. (Village of East Dundee)

“On the 20th page, I found my property as a potential redevelopment area,” Storm said. “This caught me as a surprise.”

He wants to know what it means, what timetable the village is looking at and, most importantly, “what does it do to our property values?” he said.

“I was disappointed the village didn’t at least make us aware (of the plan),” Storm said. “To me, that’s not the way it should be handled.”

The village’s Fox River Corridor Riverfront Master Plan was created by Hitchcock Design Group and WBK Engineering. Earlier this month, village board trustees reviewed the proposal, which calls for a “multi-dimensional strategy with incremental implementation actions that build upon the natural beauty of the Fox River while enhancing recreation opportunities, public access, and connections to downtown.”

Under the plan, there are three areas that could be reeveloped: north and south Water Street, William Bartels Park and the former Haeger Potteries site at Maiden Lane and River Street.

The two firms held community engagement meetings, conducted surveys and did interviews to come up with an overall strategy and create a framework for the project.

But the board hasn’t voted to approve the plan or done anything to move forward with it yet, Village President Jeff Lynam told Storm.

“I assure you, there is no (current) plan to acquire anybody’s property,” Lynam said. “This is going to give us an idea of what we can do.”

However, if they do proceed with it, land acquisition will be involved, he acknowledged. Property owners would not be caught by surprise and there would be many discussions before any purchases are made, he said.

The impetus for improving the riverfront stems from the planned removal of the Carpentersville dam, which is going to open up recreational uses on the Fox River, Lynam said.

East Dundee wants to see what can be done along its riverfront, he said, but “this is just ‘what if.’ Nothing is etched in stone.”

Storm countered that that was not the point.

“I’d like to think that if all of a sudden you saw something in (village documents) that your home is in the redevelopment area, you would understand the reason I’m here,” he said.

He added that he’d like the village to remove his home from the redevelopment area so that it doesn’t prevent him from selling the property in the future.

Also speaking about the proposed redevelopment was Jason Solarz, who manages the Warner & Troost Monument Co. on Water Street, which is also included in the master plan.

His business dates back to 1899, and only three families have run it over the course of its 150-year history, Solarz said. Company founders helped shape East Dundee in its earliest years, he said.

He also noted that not only does Warner & Troost handle 45% of the memorial monuments used for graves at Dundee Township cemeteries, it’s made significant interior and exterior improvements to its property over the last few years.

“We love being part of the community here,” Solarz said. “We are excited for the redevelopment we’ve heard about along the river. Our hopes are that we will be included in that future at our current location to maintain our history.”

Gloria Casas is a freelance reporter for The Courier-News.

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