Batavia aldermen Tuesday gave preliminary approval to put 80 apartments in the historic Campana building.
They voted 9-5 to advance the request to a council vote Monday. Mark Uher, Marty Callahan, Michael O'Brien, Elliot Meitzler and Scott Salvati voted "no."
Alderman Dan Chanzit said the "basic question" was this: "Is mixed-use residential appropriate at this property? We have been telegraphing this to the development community (with its zoning.) Guess what? We got one."
"I don't know if residential is a good re-use for it," O'Brien said. "I would like to see more effort put into it to make it more retail."
The Evergreen Real Estate Group's proposal calls for 64 apartments designated for people using government rent subsidies.
Nearby residents, including the Allendale neighborhood to the west and the Holmstad retirement community to the south, have said putting residences in the building will exacerbate traffic problems.
Many people consider the intersection of Fabyan Parkway and Batavia Avenue to be dangerous. If Campana users are restricted to right turns in and out of the property's Fabyan drive, Holmstad residents fear others will use their parking lot for U-turns.
"The Holmstad does not look at this lightly and for ourselves," Holmstad resident Guy Prisco said, as he presented more petitions opposing the plan. " ... They are not against subsidized housing for people in need. The location and building are harmful to potential residents and the neighborhood."
Salvati worried that because a sidewalk on the Fabyan edge won't connect to Allen Drive, children will walk on the road to get to Western Avenue Elementary School, even though Evergreen will provide a shuttle in the morning and afternoon to the school.
Batavia resident Robert Vaughn said children will also try to cross Batavia Avenue to get to the Fabyan Forest Preserve. "Kids will have a tendency to go where recreation is most abundant," he said.
Aldermen put in a requirement the developer immediately build stormwater detention facilities that normally would only be needed if the site were to have the 301 parking spaces required by code. They agreed to let the developer start with 206 spaces, adding the rest if the city determines they are needed.
Geneva resident Joseph Kefer urged aldermen to delay their vote until after the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Illinois Housing Development Authority, Kane County and other government agencies have completed reviews of the developer's plans.
State and federal agencies have yet to OK the windows and adding a sidewalk along the property's oval drive.