JOLIET – Country Club Villas was designed to be a premier, private subdivision until the recession stunted its growth.
Some homes were to be built alongside the golf course at the Joliet Country Club. But construction never got that far.
Only seven homes were built. They are attached homes in two buildings. None are near the golf course. And, the two streets that lead to those homes were gravel for six years.
Now, those streets, which were paved last year, have become an issue, since Country Club Villas residents want the city of Joliet to take over maintenance and plowing.
With only seven homes, they say, the burden of paying someone to plow snow is too much.
“It costs a lot,” said Chris Pfluegner, treasurer of the homeowners association. “But how much would it cost if we had to maintain the street? How much would we pay if they had to dig up the street for a sewer problem?”
Precedent or not?
Joliet city staff, however, are resisting the residents’ case for city street service.
They point to 22 other private subdivisions in Joliet and warn they all could turn to the city for street maintenance if Country Club Villas gets the service.
Staff wants the City Council to reject the request to take on Country Club Villas’ two streets when it votes on the matter Tuesday.
“It certainly seems like it would pave the way – no pun intended,” said City Manager Jim Hock. “How could we deny others if they are in the same situation? There would be additional plowing, additional street maintenance and additional exposure to liability. Why should the city take on the additional liability if we didn’t agree to do it before?”
Some council members, however, have argued Country Club Villas is in a unique situation because the plan to make it a private community was abandoned once the economy could no longer sustain the development.
The matter was reviewed at a council workshop session Monday. Those council members who spoke appeared sympathetic to the Country Club Villas residents.
Noting the failure of the original plan for the subdivision, Councilman Larry Hug said, “I think we as a city have to step up.”
The private developer went bankrupt. The property now is in the hands of the bank that foreclosed on it. The residents don’t expect to see more construction any time soon.
Unfinished but quiet
“We thought this was going to be a huge development going all the way to the golf course,” said Steve Engledow, a resident who also is fire chief at the New Lenox Fire Protection District.
Engledow was one of the first in Country Club Villas when he moved in 2008, and he had hoped to live in one of those golf course residences that were never built.
Still, Engledow and others in the small group of Country Club Villas residents like their unfinished neighborhood.
“We love it,” said Theresa Churilla. “It’s quiet. We love the deer at the back end of the property.”
Country Club Villas is not only quiet. It didn’t even show up on Google maps until a year ago.
“We had delivery people, and they’d call us: ‘We can’t find you,’” Churilla said.
That changed when the streets were paved.
Built to city specs
The residents point out that the city of Joliet was very involved when the streets were built a year ago, and they don’t understand why the city should not take them over.
“They came in and managed all of it,” said resident Randy Bushen. “They managed the construction.”
Bushen told the council on Monday that Phase One of the subdivision calls 24 more homes in five buildings. There are two more phases in the original plan, Bushen said. “That’s farm land,” he said. “Nothing has been done. And, according to the bank, there’s no plan to see it as anything but farm land.”
Attorney Michael Hansen, who represents Country Club Villas, emphasized that the two streets in the subdivision – Augusta Lane and Pinehurst Drive – were built to city specifications, which is not the case in most private subdivisions.
Hock pointed out that four other private subdivisions in the city also have streets built to city specifications.
But Hansen said Country Club Villas will never be a private, gated subdivision.
Country Club Villas, he said, “is a bit different than the others.”