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Illinois’ General Assembly, which had finally approved a budget but failed to act on an amendment regarding property tax freezes, should take a harder look at itself, Barrington Hills Village President Martin McLaughlin said during a recent interview.

“What is ridiculous is the General Assembly that hasn’t had the ability to deliver a balanced budget in years and refuses to address the public pension debacle that is a large contributor to the tax burden are the ones pointing to other entities as the problem,” McLaughlin told the Lake County Gazette.

Barrington Hills Village President Martin McLaughlin

McLaughlin said he has some experience doing what lawmakers in the Illinois General Assembly need to be doing. “As a village president that has reduced our Barrington Hills levy four out of my five years in office I am all for a freeze,” he said.

“However I would prefer a 15 percent reduction from all taxing bodies that make up our property tax bills – school districts, townships, community colleges, library districts, fire districts, abatement districts and others,” he said. ” Elected and appointed officials need to understand that Illinois taxpayers are in serious trouble. We are declining in population as people give up and move out of our state.”

To read the full article in the Lake County Gazette, click here.

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Fifty acres of sunflowers bloomed in northwest Barrington Hills this week to create a unique carpet of bright yellow.

But in addition to providing a vibrant visual along the village’s country lanes, these sun-worshipping plants play a practical role in the conversion of the nearly 700-acre Barrington Hills Farm to purely organic. Among the criteria for such certification is the soil must be found to be chemical-free — and sunflowers are among the species that can help expedite that process, experts say.

J.R. Davis and his wife, Dawn, took control of the farm four years ago and have spent the last three working to purify the soil. They see themselves carrying on the vision of the late Barbara MacArthur, who with her late husband, Alex, ran the Strathmore Organic Farm at the same location on Spring Creek Road in McHenry County. Barbara MacArthur, who died last year, was a passionate pioneer of organic farming, decades ahead of its rising popularity today.

To read the full Daily Herald article, click here.

Editor’s note:  The Daily Herald incorrectly identifies the fields as being in the McHenry County section of Barrington Hills.  Readers will recall that most of the property controlled by the Farm’s trust was de-annexed from the Village during the last decade, and these fields are actually located in unincorporated McHenry County.

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audio_tape_revox_pr99-203Audio recordings from the July 24th, 2017 meeting of the Board of Trustees have been posted. To access the menu of recordings edited by agenda item, click here.

Most of the brief meeting consisted of routine business, but, again, property owned by Barrington Hills Farm LLC (BHFarm) provided the most interesting fodder for discussion.  As we mentioned previously, the owner(s) of the unoccupied property at 2400 Spring Creek Road had been cited for demolition of a residence without a building permit and for removal of two posted Stop Work Order signs. Additionally, many trees and much vegetation had been removed without a permit required under the village’s Heritage Tree Ordinance.

Trustee Colleen Konicek asked Administrator Bob Kosin for an update on the situation.  The issue of the removal of the Stop Work Order signs is currently in the hands of the village prosecutor, and the courts will be left to determine if the violation did take place, and what fines, if any, should be imposed.  Kosin went on to state that the necessary demolition permit had now been obtained, albeit AFTER the fact, and that according to the demolition contractor, none of the work to remove the debris from the demolition of the 2900 sq. ft. home had required an overweight permit.  Trustee Brian Cecola strongly questioned the notion that a residence of that size could be taken down without the need for an overweight permit.  Konicek pressed the issue further, asking Kosin what evidence had been provided that an overweight permit had not been required? Kosin was forced to admit there was no evidence, just the word of the contractor. We wonder how many other residents would be afforded this same benefit of the doubt.

On the issue of the trees that had been removed, Kosin stated that the Village’s tree contractor had been sent out, and he determined that no heritage trees had been lost or jeopardized on the site, again AFTER the fact, and that the property owner had been appropriately billed (and paid ) for the arborist’s inspection fee. Kosin expressed supreme confidence in the arborist’s psychic abilities to determine the species of trees which had been removed, without ever having seen them.  We don’t quite understand how this was possible — perhaps he conducted a DNA analysis of the sawdust residue?

President Martin McLaughlin expressed concern about the objectivity of the arborist, Chuck Stewart, who had performed the study of the property, because Stewart rents office space in a building owned by one of the members of the board of Barrington Hills Farm. Trustee Michelle Maison was also troubled by this perceived conflict of interest and inquired if another independent tree analysis should be conducted.

McLaughlin then brought up the issue of the deannexation request (dated July 17, 2017) for 2400 Spring Creek Road. Back in the fall, the trust controlling BHFarm had expressed interest in annexing ALL of the former Duda property back into the Village during a friendly 2 1/2 hour staff meeting during which the village outlined two timelines to complete the annexation petition process. He found it odd that first they wanted to annex into the village, and now they want to annex out of the village. He also reminded the new Board members about the trust’s previous request for an easement for its proposed HARPS facility (which still has not broken ground).  The trust had wanted an easement, requested it, constructed the legal documents for it, and when the Board agreed to it, the trust wanted the easement out.

McLaughlin described how the Village has gone out of its way to say “yes” numerous times to requests by BHFarm, and explained how the Village has tried to work with the individuals representing BHFarm, only to have the trust change their minds about things that they themselves had asked for.  He likened dealing with the BHFarm trust as doing the Hokey Pokey — they want the easement in, they want the easement out, they want to annex in, they want to annex out. All of it, he said, amounted to much silliness, and in our opinion, wasting of board and staff time, not to mention taxpayer dollars.

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Doing the annexation hokey pokey

Trustee Paula Jacobsen wondered why the village couldn’t have employed a warmer and fuzzier process to inform the property owner of their violation of the cease and desist order, perhaps by placing a personal phone call. Jacobsen was either playing dumb in thinking that property owners’ phone numbers are listed on property deeds, or perhaps she was pandering to BHFarm’s board which is headed by a prominent donor to her recent trustee campaign. Her point seemed to be that the property owner was not being treated in a neighborly manner, despite the fact that the only publicly available contact information is an street address in Chicago. Never did she place any onus on the property owner who apparently assumed that it was okay to knock down a house without consulting the municipal authorities in advance. Maybe she has never heard of the expression “ignorance of the law is no excuse”?

And, if the village had gone to extreme lengths to track down a telephone number in this particular instance, wouldn’t that create a dangerous precedent for the village’s future contacts with other property owners?  AND, does Jacobsen really believe that the contractor(s) who removed the trees and demolished the residence didn’t inform their employer of the Stop Work Order?

Those conversations can be heard here.

Later in the meeting, during discussion of the disconnection petition itself, Village Attorney Mary Dickson described the legal requirements for disconnection and confirmed that the subject property meets all of them. However, the village cannot act on such a petition sooner than 30 days after receiving it, and, as a result, the attorney will prepare an ordinance for possible action at the next Board meeting in August.

Dickson cautioned that any penalties regarding the cease and desist order violation pending in court should be resolved and that any other monies due to the Village should be paid PRIOR to the Board of Trustees taking final action on BHFarm’s petition.

Jacobsen continued to puzzle over the reason for the disconnection request into unincorporated McHenry County, and asked if the petitioner would be making a presentation to the Board explaining the reasons for the disconnection.  Dickson explained that no such presentation is legally necessary.  (We suggest that Jacobsen pick up the telephone a place a neighborly phone call if she wants to quench her curiosity.) Attorney Dickson opined that maybe developmental rights are the reason, and perhaps the best prospects for the owner’s desired development of the property may lie with the county rather than the village. We’d say that Ms. Dickson hit the nail on the head with that assessment.

The disconnection discussion can be heard here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The father of a Barrington High School senior killed in a March crash in northwest suburban Barrington Hills is suing the driver of the vehicle she was riding in when it crashed while avoiding a deer in the road.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court by Randall Soderman as administrator of the estate of his daughter, Rebecca, according to court documents. The family seeks more than $50,000 in damages.

Just after 9 p.m. March 4, Matthew D. Zeek, 21, of Rolling Meadows was driving a 2005 Chevrolet Malibu west on Plum Tree Road when when he saw a deer and swerved to the left and then to the right to avoid hitting it, according to the lawsuit and Barrington Hills police. The Malibu, in which Rebecca Soderman was a passenger, went off the road, rolled and struck a tree.

You can read the full story in the Chicago Sun Times here.

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gmpixafeThe McHenry County Republican Party picked two Barrington Hills men as their choices to succeed Andrew Gasser on the County Board.

But the Democratic chairman of the County Board who has the power to advance a candidate for a formal vote said the two will be treated like every other person who has expressed interest, including filling out an extensive questionnaire.

The county GOP late Thursday announced that it was backing Ralph Sesso and David Stieper to succeed Gasser, who stepped down after winning the April election for the office of Algonquin Township highway commissioner. Gasser, of Fox River Grove, was elected to represent District 1 in 2014, and whoever is picked to replace him will serve the remaining two years of his term and have to run again in 2018.

The GOP’s announcement comes after five weeks of interviews with prospective candidates, party Chairwoman Sandra Fay Salgado said. She said the two “represent the same conservative values” as Gasser and will serve as leaders within the county GOP.

To read the Northwest Herald article in its entirety, click here.

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pavement-marking As construction season starts up earlier than usual throughout the Barrington area, motorists driving through downtown Barrington will have to navigate an ongoing road project to replace a 100-year-old sewer system.

The project is a major one for Barrington officials, who recently started the construction work to replace aging sanitary sewer lines. As the weather warms, officials in nearby Barrington Hills and South Barrington also are looking to start local road resurfacing projects. …

Upcoming resurfacing projects in Barrington Hills could start sometime after May 23 when the list of tentative projects are presented to the Barrington Hills Village Board, said Robert Kosin, director of administration in Barrington Hills.

The list of potential projects include Ridge Road, from County Line Road to Merry Oaks Lane, as well as the entire stretch of Old Hart Road and West Cuba Road, and also the parking lot to village hall at 112 Algonquin Road, Kosin said.

To read the full Chicago Tribune article, click here.

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Announced on the Village of Barrington Hills website today:

“All 4 counties have now released certified results for the April 4, 2017 election. We can now officially announce that President Martin J. McLaughlin has been elected to another term as Village President.

Trustee Colleen Konicek Hannigan was also reelected to another term as Trustee.
The election for the remaining two Trustee positions came down to three Trustees separated by only 4 votes.

The Village congratulates our new Trustees Robert M. Zubak and Paula Jacobsen.
We hope you’ll attend the Special Board Meeting Tuesday May 2nd at 6:30 pm where the elected will take their oath of office.”

The final vote totals for Village President by county are as follows.

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The final vote totals for Village Trustee by county are as follows.

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