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The Forest Preserve District of Cook County cannot evict the former owners of Horizon Farm in Barrington Hills, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday, citing an appeals court order from August that essentially sent the sale of the 400-acre equestrian estate back to the legal drawing board.

The land, which features four miles of trails for hikers, bicyclists and horse riders, has occasionally been open to the public since 2015.

The August order voided the sale of the property, which leaves the district with no right to evict the former owners, the court ruled Tuesday.

Richard Kirk Cannon and Meryl Squires Cannon argue the county unlawfully acquired the property through a $14.5 million foreclosure sale with BMO Harris Bank back in 2013.

The court’s latest opinion reverses a previous circuit court decision to award the district possession of the property and puts the eviction issue on hold pending resolution of the foreclosure case.

“We hold that the reversal of the foreclosure judgment voids the sale of the property to the FPD,” the opinion says. “If the circuit court, following trial, again awards a foreclosure judgment in favor of FPD, the court will need to hold a new foreclosure sale, and the purchaser at that sale will acquire the property owner’s rights and duties under the lease with Royalty Farms (if Royalty Farms has a valid lease).”

The full text of the Daily Herald article can be accessed here.

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IDOT IL 62 Study As state transportation officials brainstorm ways to address a bottleneck along Route 62 in Barrington Hills, they’re inviting area residents to learn more about the issue during an upcoming open house.

The event comes as officials with the Illinois Department of Transportation begin a four-year study examining possible upgrades and widening options to Route 62, between routes 25 and 68 in Barrington Hills.

Currently, the four-mile stretch, also named Algonquin Road, narrows to one-lane in each direction, but the roadway expands to two lanes in both directions before and after routes 25 and 68, said Kimberly Murphy, who heads the consultant studies unit for IDOT.

Traffic along that stretch of Route 62 also is over capacity, she said.

“There’s a lack of continuity between 25 and 68,” Murphy said. “It’s sort of a bottleneck.”

The upcoming open house for residents lasts from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Barrington Park District, 235 Lions Drive, Barrington.

During the event, IDOT officials said representatives will introduce tentative roadwork plans, listen to public feedback and answer residents’ questions. IDOT also is taking applications for a new community advisory committee on the project that would feature Barrington-area residents, motorists and stakeholders, Murphy said.

To read the full Barrington Courier-Review article, including comments by Barrington Hills Village Administrator Robert Kosin, click here.

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 “NO TRESPASSING” signs have been posted at the entrances to the largest new forest preserve in Cook County.

“Forest Preserve of Cook County does not have possession & has no right to enter this property or permit others to do so,” the warning reads on a locked gate at Horizon Farm, a rolling, 400-acre horse farm in Barrington Hills.

The notice was posted by Rich and Meryl Squires Cannon, who assert they are the true owners of the land after they won an Illinois Appellate Court decision in a long-standing legal battle over the prized property.

The court ruled that there is a legitimate question as to whether the Cannons were fraudulently pressured into the mortgage that led to foreclosure of their property. As a result, a lower court must reconsider whether the Forest Preserve District can foreclose on the property.

The shutdown is the latest development in a yearslong feud between the couple and the district. It could be years more before the dispute and the fate of the land is resolved.

To read the full article in the Chicago Tribune, click here.

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AR-170529561Efforts to save a coyote pup whose six siblings were found dead in a burlap bag on Cook County Forest Preserve District property near Barrington Hills continue.  Forest district  spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis said the May 11 incident remains under investigation by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Lukidis said Tuesday it’s not known what occurred before a man fishing at Penny Road Pond reported seeing the animals in the burlap bag, which was in the water. The pond is by East Penny and Old Sutton roads near Barrington Hills.

She said a forest preserve officer found what later was confirmed to be seven coyote puppies, but only one was still alive. The officer brought the coyote to Golf Rose Animal Hospital in Schaumburg.

You can read the entire Daily Herald article here.

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PlumFarmAerial Momentum may be shifting against the proposed Plum Farms mixed use development at the northwest corner of Higgins and Route 59 after today’s Village of Hoffman Estates meeting of the Joint Review Board (JRB). The JRB, composed of representatives of taxing bodies and parties of standing, is tasked with hearing and determining if a tax increment financing district (TIF) should be established for the property. If approved, it could mean $22.5 million of incentives for the developers.

The JRB does not have any planning or zoning authority and is limited in scope to making a decision on the TIF qualifications only. JRB members present at the meeting represented Elgin Community College, Barrington Township, School District 220, School District 300, with Cook County attending via telephone.

Also present were Barrington Hills Village President Martin McLaughlin, South Barrington President Paula McCombie and Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod. In addition, a number of board members from D220, D300, South Barrington, Barrington Hills and Hoffman Estates attended, as did 50+ members of the public. Of note, McLaughlin along McCombie were not invited to the table to be seated nor were they allowed to make any statements, as neither village has legal standing as previously noted due to the disconnection of the land in 2010.

The developer’s attorney made a presentation describing why they believe the project fits the conditions to qualify as a TIF. Attorneys for D200 and D300 disagreed and said that it does not apply by not fulfilling the criteria established with regard to agricultural land, vacant land and chronic flooding.

The definition of vacant land for a TIF is land that has not been used for commercial or agricultural purposes in prior years, or land divided into 3 or more parcels that could be deemed as subdivided.

Both sides differed on if the land had been divided, over the amount of agricultural usage and if there is chronic flooding of the property. The issue of a gas pipeline traversing the property which would restrict further residential development was also raised.

The property needs to be subdivided into three lots if they want their application to be strengthened, but that hasn’t happened yet. The subdivision application was submitted in October, but no decision has been made yet, and this has to occur before TIF can be considered.

The discussion dissolved into a “he said, she said” exchange.  And, obviously these matters will likely be taken up in court, as usual, by overpaid attorneys, with the taxpayers on the hook no matter the eventual outcome.

But President McLaughlin was given the opportunity to speak on behalf of Barrington Hills and entered his opposition based upon the offer from Hoffman Estates of $22.5 million, as did South Barrington’s McCombie. Trustee Fritz Gohl and candidate Bob Zubak attended but chose not to speak.  A representative of a D220 taxpayers’ group also spoke.

The Joint Review Board voted on two different motions on the TIF, with the bottom line being that the majority of the board disapproved of the TIF.

There will be no business on this matter until 30 days pass. The next meeting is scheduled for April 18th.

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Recently the Observer published links to some of the websites for candidates in the upcoming April 4th village election. In reviewing those sites, we noticed some glaring omissions and dare we say it – “lack of transparency” about their community involvement and their positions on some of the most important village issues.

Let’s begin with a look at Elaine Ramesh, who is seeking “re-election” as Village Trustee, although she has not been on the Board since 2013. Her choice of words already comes across as a bit deceptive.560_brookdaleopen2

  • EXPERIENCED LEADERSHIP/EXCELLENT RESULTS?  Ramesh’s Facebook page displays her credentials and governmental involvement, obviously focusing on her time as trustee four years ago. Despite the list of “excellent results” and “eye on the bottom line” that she includes, readers will recall that she routinely disregarded input from residents and tended to view issues only from her personal point of view. She rarely spoke up in discussions during Board of Trustees meetings, and members of the Board and audience were routinely surprised by many of her votes, given that she seldom gave any rationale for her decisions. Ramesh’s lack of explanations did a disservice to both her constituents who deserve accountability from their public servants, and to her fellow board members, whose opinions on various topics might have been swayed if she had offered her personal insights publically. It is because of this reticence that some have labeled her “the Silent One”.
  • “I’M NOT RUNNING ON ANY PLATFORM”  “Basically, I’m not running on any platform, but just offering myself as a volunteer to serve my community,” Ramesh said of her current campaign. (Barrington Courier Review March 8, 2017)  As we have previously stated in our article Ramesh repeat? We hope not, Elaine seems to have intentionally omitted mention of her extensive involvement in the equestrian community, instead focusing on her membership and support of conservation groups. It’s hard to understand why someone who clearly loves horses and the equestrian way of life would omit ANY mention of horses in her campaign. On her campaign site, she shows off her adorable cat and dog, and is pictured jogging in the village or volunteering with the Girl Scouts. But there are no horses, ANYWHERE? Strange. We would call that a lack of transparency.elaine  But Elaine is not just a competitor in hunter/jumper events with her own horses, and isn’t just a member of numerous equestrian organizations (Riding Club of Barrington Hills, American Horse Council, Equine Land Conservation Resource and the United States Equestrian Federation). To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with owning horses and enjoying them – it is a wonderful part of the fabric of our Village. But Elaine Ramesh has held, and currently holds, significant leadership roles in several high profile equestrian groups with very narrow agendas which she is not being forthcoming about. Here’s just a partial list:
    • President of the Riding Club of Barrington Hills, 2015
    • Founder & Chair of the Equestrian Coalition of McHenry County, a regional organization to unite various local equestrian groups to pursue common goals regarding equestrian land use.
    • Past Board Member Illinois Equine Research and Promotion Board, whose mission statement is is to enhance the Illinois equine industry through self-funded programs, projects and activities. http://www.iepb.org/index.html
    • Second Vice President of the Horseman’s Council of Illinois http://www.horsemenscouncil.org/leadership  HorsesFirst_HCIHere’s a graphic from the Spring 2016 issue of the Horsemen’s Council of Illinois Courier newsletter that should give you an idea of their mission statement.
  • COMMUNITY ACTIVISM  We’d also like to remind readers of Elaine’s talk presented to the McHenry County Horse Club in March 2012, entitled “Community Activism — Equestrian Style.”
  • “DEFENDED ESTATE CATEGORY OF ZONING IN McHENRY COUNTY ” We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge Ramesh’s participation in advocating for the inclusion of the Estate Category of Zoning in the McHenry County Unified Development Ordinance and for opposing “conservation design” as the county’s only model for future subdivision development. Those are important elements to help preserve the natural ecology of the county and to help safeguard against dense small-lot housing as being the norm for the county.  But Elaine herself is remiss when she does not also mention her strong defense of the equestrian heritage of McHenry County and her desire for promotion of the equine industry in the county in the same document.

 The Village’s 2010 press release on the topic included Ramesh’s entire submission to McHenry  County, which can be seen here.  We would like readers to pay particular attention to how she signed her remarks.

RameshEquestrienne

…Equestrienne…

Readers will have to judge for themselves if Ramesh is, in her own words “not running on any platform”, only seeking “to help protect our healthy outdoor lifestyle, pastoral viewscapes and heritage”.  Or is she an equestrian activist with a hidden agenda that she doesn’t want voters to know about? We think the facts speak for themselves.

(In case you’re curious to see Elaine’s campaign platform from 2009 when she first ran for trustee, click here to see the PDF.  At that time she said that “she works to help preserve the residents [sic] rights to participate in all equestrian activities”.

 

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BHPDThe Barrington Hills Park District Board of Commissioners will be holding a special meeting on December 12th at the district riding center located at 361 Bateman Road at 6:00 PM.  The sole topic for discussion, and possible vote, is a “Use Ordinance.”

A copy of their agenda can be viewed here.

 

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