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Kane begins its pitch for entertainment venue along Fabyan

Updated: March 23, 2012 8:14AM

BATAVIA — Overall, aldermen responded favorably to recreational-entertainment concept plans for a 758-acre tract of land bordering Geneva and Batavia, although they did express concerns about adding traffic to Kirk Road and Fabyan Parkway.

A Kane County “Fabyan Utilization Study” suggests a variety of “end-uses” that incorporates the old Midway Landfill and closed Settler’s Hill Landfill and its 18-hole golf course, as well as the old Kane County jail property on Fabyan Parkway.

Kane County Board member Mike Donahue, R-Geneva, presented the preliminary plans to the Batavia City Council Monday night.

The preliminary plans have the potential for as many as three music venues, including a Ravinia-style outdoor concert venue near Fabyan Woods off of Route 25. The drawings incorporate a hotel and resort center, mountain bike trails, cross country track and observatory from the peak of the geographic landscape.

“I for one am interested in the music venue — it is close enough to my house to walk to. On the other hand, I am nervous about traffic,” Alderman Jim Volk said.

Volk said he thought the internal circulation for the proposal was attractive, but he would encourage roadway improvements, specifically on Kirk and Fabyan.

Land use planner Chris Lannert said they have not yet developed an in-depth traffic plan, but the concept plans show how traffic patterns can be better dispersed.

“There will be increased traffic,” Lannert said. “The beauty of this is to (attract) end users to take opportunity of the economic potential here. Until we get people coming here it is just a lot of open space.”

Mayor Jeff Schielke, who serves on a county task force on redevelopment of the area, said he expects noise and traffic concerns from residents will be repeated themes as the plan is refined.

Lannert said the music venue originally was envisioned further south, but it has since been moved north and the orientation now faces east.

“We are still looking at trees, topography and the ability and/or desire of doing this,” he said. “We know (the outdoor music venue) is a hot button that has been identified as one of the concerns. We certainly will be paying attention to it.”

In the hallway outside of the council chambers, about a dozen people viewed the renderings of the proposed development.

“If a music venue goes in that location, it would be far enough into the woodlands to respect the natural topography and minimize the impact on existing trees,” Lannert said.

Virginia Babcock, a Batavia environmental advocate, said she is concerned about preserving the oaks in Fabyan Woods.

“I don’t want to see any development in the stand of white oaks. The huge oak trees are like beacons to guide birds in flight,” Babcock said. “ ... I personally think the people of Kane County should be able to vote on this in a referendum.”

Lannert said a mountain bike venue is also suggested on the west side of the property adjacent to Route 25 with trails winding through the wooded area and along the west edge of the golf course. A privately built resort is proposed for the former jail site.

Lannert said the concept plans save an existing limestone house and bring in other historic houses to the area to create another destination. Another amenity is an observatory at the highest point of the land form to give people views as far as Chicago to the east.

“We have talked possibly of having a re-creation of Stonehenge,” Lannert said.

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