Developer urges county to back property tax settlement

Says District 427 stands to lose revenue if closing date passes

Shown is the vantage from a proposed active-adult community at the southeast corner of Mt. Hunger Road and North Main Street, across the street from Sycamore Middle School.[]

SYCAMORE – A developer who plans to build a 48-unit active-adult community in Sycamore wants a DeKalb County judge to order county officials to sign a property tax agreement needed for his project to proceed.

Brian Grainger said the agreement negotiated with Sycamore School District 427 would allow Grainger’s company, Old Mill Park LLC, to pay 75 percent of the $150,000 the county is owed by property owner Keven Dahl. Grainger plans to buy about 27 acres of property at the southeast corner of Mount Hunger Road and North Main Street from Dahl.

In his motion, Grainger said Old Mill Park will pay off $112,500 of the taxes owed in annual installments of about $15,000 by Dec. 30, 2024. The taxes are owed from tax years 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to court documents. Dahl has disputed the tax bills for the property in those years.

Grainger said DeKalb County State’s Attorney Rick Amato and county Treasurer Christine Johnson have not signed off on the settlement, and that the project hinges on a closing on the property scheduled for Monday.

Amato’s lawyer, Chris Scherer of Griffin Winning in Springfield, appeared in DeKalb County court on his behalf Friday, and the case was continued until Wednesday, according to court records. Amato spent most of his week prosecuting the first-degree murder trial of Sycamore man Christopher “C.J.” Gerken. The trial concluded with a guilty verdict Thursday.

Grainger said he plans for Old Mill Park, across the street from Sycamore Middle School, to be a 55-plus luxury community, which will not add to the school’s enrollment, and will boost property values. The Sycamore City Council agreed in 2016 to change zoning on the property, which is across North Main Street from Sycamore Middle School, from commercial to residential use.

“The county needs to come alongside the school by signing the agreement, or Rick Amato will flush $720,000 per year in new annual income for Sycamore School District 427 down the toilet,” Grainger said in an email.

Both Amato and Johnson said they couldn’t comment on the issue because it is in litigation.

Court records show that a special use permit for about 8 1/2 acres of the property for Grainger’s project was approved Dec. 19, 2016, by the City Council.

Grainger has built more than 400 homes in DeKalb County, according to the website of his company, Solid Construction Services.

It was not clear how much tax revenue other bodies in the county would stand to receive.