Channahon pondering housing issues
BY JEANNE MILLSAP Correspondent October 4, 2013 11:12PM
Updated: November 7, 2013 6:21AM
CHANNAHON — One big question facing Channahon village leaders is whether to go all out to market their town for residential development or just let it happen as it’s going to happen.
Residents long have desired more retail in town, but trustees have been told over and over the village needs more residential “rooftops” to attract more retail. The village board and the planning and zoning committee met last week to discuss whether they want to actively market the town to developers and new homebuyers.
A representative of Metrostudy, a real estate research and analysis company, told those present that the housing market is very slowly coming around, and that Channahon should market itself primarily to “millennials,” or those ages 18 to 37, if it wants to boost development.
Channahon, like the rest of the Chicago area, was hit hard by the recession. From 2002 to 2005, the village issued more than 200 combined residential, commercial and industrial building permits each year, with a peak of 314 in 2005. By 2006, that number was cut almost in half, and only 20 were issued in the last three years combined.
Channahon has 1,032 vacant lots ready for housing development. There are 5,082 lots within a 10-mile radius, which includes Minooka, Shorewood, Elwood and southern Plainfield.
Channahon’s homes traditionally have been higher-end, and the village’s minimum requirements for home and lot sizes are larger than those of many towns. The thought was that growth needed to be curbed to prevent schools and other municipal services from being overburdened. But some at Monday’s meeting said maybe homes should be priced lower in this new climate.
Mayor Joe Cook said the days of the “McMansion” are over. It’s very difficult for young couples and first-time homebuyers to afford a house in Channahon, he said.
“The question we need to ask ourselves,” Cook said at the meeting, “is, ‘Do we want to still be a bedroom community ... or more of an active community with more retail?’ We need to decide if we want home growth, and if we do, what kind? Are we willing to support the $150,000 home?”
Cook and others on the board and commission agreed one problem with that is that there are several subdivisions with only a handful of occupied high-end houses whose owners would not appreciate the reduction in lot and house sizes next door to them.
Planning and Zoning Chairman Karen Ciarletti asked how to know what the right price range is for homes in Channahon today. The Metrostudy representative said a variety of housing would allow people to “age in place,” meaning they could start out in a smaller home, buy larger when they have children, then maybe downsize in their later years.
Trustees and commissioners decided to meet monthly for the next few months to focus on those decisions. Meeting dates and times are to be posted on the village’s website or its Facebook page. The meetings will be open to the public.