By Dave Fidlin


Efforts to bring new development near the intersection of highways 83 and 20 are continuing as Village of Waterford officials initiate a new round of discussions with residential developer Bielinski Homes.

Last fall, concerns arose as Bielinski representatives indicated plans for a 32-acre site known as the Park Meadow Planned Community Development District were not coalescing as initially planned 15 years ago.

Since then, newly installed Village Administrator Zeke Jackson said he has actively been involved in discussing the future of the site, which is adjacent to the Cotton Exchange, 345 Hickory Hollow Road.

As 2018 progresses, Jackson said he has been meeting with John Donovan, acquisition manager with Bielinski Homes, about the future of the area. Jackson in a memo to the Village Board described the dialogue as “a productive conversation.”

“The revised plans I discussed with John Donovan should feature 61 single-family homes and leave approximately seven acres for future expansion of the Cotton Exchange, or another commercial enterprise,” Jackson wrote in the memo, which was reviewed at a Village Board meeting Jan. 8.

Amid his discussions with Donovan, Jackson said he has been laser-focused on the village’s comprehensive plan for the area, which was first drafted in 1998 and underwent a review in 2008. With another 10-year mark approaching, the document is set for a refresh.

“Some weeks ago, I met with two investors, as well as Dan and Kathy (Prailes) of the Cotton Exchange to discussion acquisition of the (7-acre) site for a future wedding venue,” Jackson said.

He added, “I believe this type of business use in this area is consistent with what I have seen in the village’s comp plan, as well as its present zoning and use.”

The recent proposals surrounding Park Meadow are a modification from plans Bielinski submitted in October.

At the time, the developer had approached the village with a proposal calling for 43 single-family homes and 12 two-family condominium-style homes on land along Buena Park Road. The plans were a shift away from the mixed-use proposal that called for intermingling commercial uses into the site.

Donovan in October touted Bielinski’s plans for site, saying the housing developments, as proposed, would bring an estimated $15 million of valuation to the community, equating to $300,000 in new tax revenue that would be distributed to all taxing authorities.

But a number of residents and business owners within the community criticized Bielinski’s plans last fall, asserting the company had not made a concerted effort to solicit commercial developments.

Jackson, in his memo, said he has been working with Donovan and others within Bielinski to ensure areas within Park Meadow targeted for sale are done so equitably and fairly in the interest of ensuring development eventually transpires in the area.

“I believe that the village should have the expectation that the site’s value for commercial development should be based on nearby comps, not a assertion by either party on what they believe it to be worth,” Jackson said.