Elwood Village President Doug Jenco released a statement Tuesday that revealed some insight into how village officials essentially ended discussion on NorthPoint Development’s proposed Compass Business Park.
“As [village president] of Elwood, I want people to know that everyone involved with the vetting and negotiation of the NorthPoint project ... followed an established village process for evaluating the proposed project and did so in a highly professional manner,” Jenco said in the news release.
A NorthPoint-sponsored open house was held in June 2017, and an opposition group soon organized a campaign to stop the project.
“Many unfounded accusations were leveled by the group who opposed the project,” Jenco said. “This included personal attacks on village staff and elected officials, false statements about the proposed agreement, unfounded accusations by local area officials and absurd claims regarding the developer’s team.”
During the process, former Village President Todd Matichak and three members of the Planning and Zoning Commission felt the need to resign.
Village staff offered on several occasions to meet with those opposing the project, and there were few takers, according to the release.
When the Planning and Zoning Commission considered NorthPoint’s proposal, about 100 people presented their views during about 16 hours of testimony. The commission fulfilled its role and determined by a majority vote it was an appropriate use, despite extreme criticism during the hearing and after its decision, Jenco said.
Jenco said staff spent hundreds of hours creating a draft annexation agreement with NorthPoint that was very favorable both to the village and residents.
“The process was accomplished in a professional manner, and the job done by our team was outstanding,” Jenco said.
The board evaluated the draft annexation agreement to determine whether it was in residents’ best interest. While it was a very positive agreement, the majority of the board was not in favor of moving forward with the proposed development, Jenco said.
Village of Elwood staff, elected officials and their families endured constant criticism in person and at board meetings, Jenco said. They were the victims of personal attacks on social media during the process.
“It is appropriate and necessary to voice your opinion on a project, but it is unfortunate when disrespectful behavior occurs,” Jenco said. “I commend the village’s team ... for the outstanding job they did on this project. I am also certain that our small village of 2,400 residents will heal.”
Jenco canceled a pivotal public hearing on NorthPoint’s project April 17 and said he would not reschedule it unless he was instructed to do so at a public meeting of the board of trustees.
The cancellation meant the deal would not go through because the village is required to hold a public hearing on the matter to approve the agreement.