Developer pitches year-round ski hill, but some in Round Lake fear it'd be a landfill project
A request to annex 94 acres to Round Lake with plans to build a year-round ski hill and commercial lot for future development is being met with skepticism and concern by some residents.
Among the questions regarding the proposal for the area is who bears responsibility for monitoring the fill material to create the contours of a 200-foot high ski hill and what options the village has in case of potential contamination.
Would-be developer Dan Powell introduced the concept for a destination recreational use a year ago. Village officials said they were interested and directed him to submit plans and go through the formal review process, which is ongoing.
That was news to many in the crowd of more than 50 residents and others at village hall Monday night for an informal committee of the whole meeting.
Among the concerns raised by people who addressed the board were increased traffic, wear and tear on roads, dust, pollution, noise, and potential contamination or depletion of the aquifer. Oversight of material being dumped and recourse for the village if contamination is found or the project isn't built as proposed were other issues.
Powell, owner/operator of CHDS LLC, and property owners Daniel and Leah Light want to annex the property, bounded by Route 120, Fairfield Road, Townline Road and the ComEd right of way, and have it zoned for commercial use.
The 94 acres consists of seven parcels. About 11 acres at Fairfield and Route 120 would be developed in future with no specific plans now.
A year-round ski hill and facilities to be built with fill dirt material in three phases over 12 years is proposed for the remaining 83 acres, according to village documents.
The operation would allow for downhill skiing, snowboarding and tubing with five runs and a roughly 175-foot vertical drop. Powell proposes to use a synthetic snow substitute called Snowflex for what would be the first facility of its kind in the Midwest.
The proposal also envisions a 10,300-square-foot ski lodge building with 6,000 square feet designated as a full-service restaurant. The ski hill would draw 45,000 patrons annually and boost development in the area, per the proposal.
"It's been a long labor of love for us," Powell told village trustees Monday. "This is going to draw from all over."
However, getting to that point would involve years of trucks dumping fill to create the hill.
Attorney Kenneth Ashman said he represents nine clients along Townline Road, the southern border of the proposal. Building the hill would require 150 truckloads of fill more than five days a week for years, he said.
"This alone is enough to put pause on the project," he told the board. CHDS for the past few years has operated a material processing center on village property nearby at Wilson Road and Route 120.
"The (ski hill) project is a landfill project through and through," Ashman said.
The dirt to create the ski hill would come from construction projects in the region, and only materials for construction of the ski hill and site will be brought in, according to Katie Parkhurst, director of economic and community development. There would not be any processing or storage of other materials on the ski hill site, she added.
On June 28, the advisory planning and zoning commission by a 3-2 vote recommended approval of the annexation, zoning, preliminary planned unit development and plat of subdivision.