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Hunter Properties special service area opposed by residents, DeKalb council vote 'to be determined'

DeKALB – Opponents of a proposal that could mean the city’s largest landlord Hunter Properties pays additional property taxes that would go toward city public safety costs near the Annie Glidden North neighborhood submitted a petition to DeKalb city officials Thursday afternoon.

In order for the petition to be rejected, there needs to be at least 51% of residents or properties within the boundaries of the proposed Special Service Area who oppose it. DeKalb City Manager Bill Nicklas said Thursday as of 2 p.m. no one opposed it, however, around 4 p.m., he learned his office had received a letter in opposition to the proposal, though details for that petition aren’t yet known.

“We have to see whether the number of property owners is the issue or the number of electors [residents] is the issue,” Nicklas said.

The DeKalb City Council initially was expected to vote on the proposed SSA during the council’s Monday meeting in the Yusunas Meeting Room at the DeKalb Public Library, 309 Oak St. Participants may attend in person following public health guidelines or watch live via Channel 14 or zoom.

Nicklas said city attorneys are going to check validity of names on the petition, which allegedly includes the name of one of the owners of Hunter Properties, and whether those names are of electors in that area. He said city officials are expected to present the petition during the Monday meeting.

Nicklas affirmed part of the settlement agreement that spurred the proposed SSA was that Hunter Properties could not voice any opposition to the agreement.

Nicklas’ comments come after Pastor Joe Mitchell of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church expressed concerns during an October public hearing about whether imposing the taxes to the landlord’s properties and the one city property would become a cost that will be passed to Hunter Properties residents by the landlord increasing rent.

Steve Bauer, attorney for Chicago law firm Meltzer, Purtill and Stelle LLC, now representing Hunter Properties, had requested the October public hearing to be delayed and called it premature. He also had raised objections about the public notice for the hearing being inadequate and part of the settlement agreement involving Hunter Properties waiving any objections to the SSA.

Nicklas wrote in Monday City Council meeting documents those objections “were heard, considered and rejected by the City Council at the October 12, 2020 public hearing.”

The proposed SSA only would apply to Hunter Properties – specifically properties near Edgebrook Drive – and the now city-owned and vacant Edgebrook Manor Apartment Complex, 912 Edgebrook Drive, which is expected to be demolished soon and turned into a park. If the SSA is approved, Nicklas had said the city expects to get $100,000 per year from Hunter Properties, which could go toward security cameras and other public safety measures for the area.

Nicklas had said enforcement officers, fire prevention officers and other city officials have been paying visits to properties owned by the landlord in response to more than 500 unresolved code violations involving Evanston-based Hunter Properties LLC and its subsidiaries, some dating back to 2017. He had said fines issued to the landlord totaled about $500,000 in 2018 alone.

Hunter Properties manager Tiffany Meadows declined comment to Daily Chronicle on Thursday.

Nicklas wrote he recommends that the City Council approves the ordinance on first and second readings. He said he anticipated the ordinance being approved on first and second reading on Monday, but there might be a change of plans now with the filed petition opposing the SSA.

“To be determined,” Nicklas said.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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