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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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BHPDThe Barrington Hills Park District Advisory Committee meets this evening at 7:00 PM at the district Riding Center located at 361 Bateman Road.  A copy of their agenda can be viewed here.

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The Board of Trustees will be holding a special meeting tomorrow evening beginning at 6:30 at Countryside Elementary School.  The topics to be considered and voted upon are two amendments to the recently enacted commercial horse boarding codes as follows:

  • James J. Drury Text Amendment
  • Zoning Board of Appeals Text Amendment

The Zoning Board of Appeals has held a total of eight meetings on these matters since June, including lengthy public hearings.  This board voted to not recommend the Drury Amendment, however they did vote to recommend the second text amendment which would essentially repeal the LeCompte/Anderson II commercial horse boarding codes passed last year. 

We recommend all interested residents attend tomorrow night’s meeting.  A copy of the agenda can be viewed here.

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Audio recordings from a special Zoning Board of Appeals public hearing on November 9th are available for review on the Village website.  The link to the menu of audio recordings edited by agenda topic can be accessed by clicking here.

The purpose of the meeting was to hear testimony from residents regarding a proposed change to zoning codes returning commercial horse boarding to the Home Occupation Ordinance temporarily to provide the Zoning Board members time to craft more appropriate codes than those in the 2015 Anderson II codes.

Residents spent about two hours providing testimony with varying opinions, both for and against, regarding reverting to the Home Occupation Ordinance.

The developer of Barrington Hills Farm in unincorporated McHenry County read a prepared statement, after which he was once again asked to document the “clique of area residents associated with high density commercial housing development,” he referred to in a letter to all Village residents last July (seen here).

Once again, this witness refused to provide that documentation as can be heard here, but listening closely to his initial response to the question, one can hear, ”There’s no documents.”

The balance of the testimony provided little new evidence the board hadn’t already heard since they began this process back in June.  The link to the beginning of the remarks can be accessed here.

The board spent about 45-minutes discussing the testimony they’d heard and expressing their own opinions regarding the Anderson II code and what should be done with it.  This was in addition to the nearly three hour meeting they’d held on October 17th covering this same topic.

One member referred to it as a “loaded gun sitting on a chair” on more than one occasion.  Others phrased their concerns over the Anderson II language differently, but ultimately the board voted 6-1 to recommend the Board of Trustees repeal Anderson II and reinstate Home Occupation Ordinance codes to manage horse boarding operations.

The recording of the discussion and vote can be accessed here.

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In the summer of 2014 when the then Zoning Board of Appeals was considering four proposals for amending commercial horse boarding codes, we pointed out how four members of the board at that time had potential conflicts of interest (see “Conflicted”), particularly since one of the proposals was from a private riding club to which the four belonged.

However, what we were unaware of at that time is that an attorney on the Zoning Board, for which the current commercial boarding code was named, has been preparing IRS tax filings for the Riding Club of Barrington Hills since at least 2004.  In fact, just a month before the Riding Club submitted their proposal in June of 2014, this Zoning Board member prepared the 2013 IRS form 990 for the Riding Club as seen below:

(Click on image above to enlarge)

(Click on image above to enlarge)

A complete copy of the 2013 Riding Club tax return can be viewed here,  and historic returns dating back to 2004, including the most recent one filed this year, can be accessed by clicking here (once you access the site, click on the “Tax Documents” tab to view all available filed returns).

Had we been aware of this professional business relationship at the time the Zoning Board was considering adopting new horse boarding code, we would have made residents aware.  This appointed official did not volunteer this information for consideration by the board or counsel before or during the proceedings.

We believe this may be one more reason for the Board of Trustees to concur with the current Zoning Board of Appeals recommendation and vote in favor of repealing the Anderson II codes.  At least then, the current Zoning Board members can begin with a clean slate.

-The Observer

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BHPDThe Barrington Hills Park District Board of Commissioners meets Monday evening at 7:00 PM at the district Riding Center located at 361 Bateman Road.  A copy of their agenda can be viewed here.

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The Zoning Board of Appeals will be holding a special meeting this evening at 6:30 PM at Countryside Elementary School to hold a public hearing on a text amendment proposal to the Village zoning codes related to commercial horse boarding.

A copy of the proposed text amendment can be viewed here, and a copy of the agenda for the meeting can be viewed here.

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Audio recordings from the October 17th regular monthly meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals held at Countryside Elementary School have been posted to the Village website.  The link to the menu of recordings edited by agenda topic can be accessed here.

Six people made public comments, though three of them were allowed to speak twice, causing the public comment portion of the agenda to last about 45 minutes (and since the chair was very liberal when it came to the traditional 3 minute time limit per comment).

The developer of Barrington Hills Farm (BHF) was the first to ask to speak for a second time, but before he began his additional remarks, the chair asked him a question:

“In a letter you sent out to the entire village a month or two ago [seen here], in the letter there’s a statement that ‘some months ago a clique of area residents, a clique of area residents associated with high density housing development initiated a subtle but strategic campaign to defeat and dismantle the statutory defenses that preserve the character of the village of Barrington Hills.’  What were you talking about?”

The speaker replied, “There is a [sic] intentional direction at undermining and changing the village’s comprehensive plan.  To change the comprehensive plan will change the density allowances for construction going forward.”

When asked for further definition of specifically whom the speaker was referring to in his letter, after some obfuscation he stated, “I’m not one for circulating misinformation.  I will document it.”

We’re looking forward to it, as we’re confident our readers do as well.  In the meantime, we highly recommend readers listen to this candid exchange by clicking here.

The second resident to speak twice (and who also happens to be involved in the BHF development) offered to answer the chair’s question.  He stated:

“The question as I understood it, and I think it is a legitimate question, is basically is there a group that is trying to change the comprehensive plan, and are they meeting.  And I can tell you categorically yes they are meeting, and here’s the change that is contemplated.

The change, and this is documented in written communications that’s been sent out on The Observer, which I think you write [apparently referring to one of the ZBA members], and in other publications, that basically we want to alter the characterization of Barrington Hills from an equestrian community to a residential community.

Now, as Mr. Stieper knows, and as probably everyone on the board knows, changing that characterization from an equestrian community, which has been embedded in the comprehensive plan since the beginning of Barrington Hills, and as I said at a previous meeting, uh,  I was there at the start with the founder of Barrington Hills as an equestrian community.”

We recommend readers listen to this speaker’s full remarks as well as his dialog with board members by clicking here.

We also look forward to his commitment to follow up on his statements with documentation, particularly as they relate to Barrington Hills comprehensive plans.  A searchable copy of the 1978 Comprehensive Plan that was in place for 27 years can be viewed and downloaded here, however it is devoid of anything remotely substantiating his claims.

Prior to the chair closing public comment, a ZBA member questioned the clerk regarding the procedure for timely inclusion of written comments in document packets to board members prior to meetings, since one submitted the morning of the meeting was excluded, yet another from that afternoon from the BHF developer was.  The recording of that exchange can be heard here.

Recordings of all public comments made that night can be heard by clicking here, however, the first speaker is nearly inaudible.

When public comment concluded, the board began nearly two hours of discussion regarding the proposal to repeal Anderson II/LeCompte Anderson codes and revert back to Home Occupation Ordinance oversight of horse boarding facilities as an interim step before pursuing brand new codes addressing all scales of facilities in Barrington Hills.

The chair seemed to follow a rather “belt and suspenders” path throughout the discussion sometimes asking the same question of members two times.  Perhaps he considers this being thorough, but in no instance did he receive a different response to the second question than from the first.

Member Stieper provided his thoughts when asked about the deficiencies in the Anderson II language after which he asked Bob Kosin, Village Administrator, for his opinion regarding his account, particularly as it related to Floor Area Ratio codes for the primary residence on a property versus an accessory structure such as a boarding barn.

Kosin stated, “The floor area requirements are, ah, are established and they do reflect a residential basis and they’re cumulative.  So essentially what you are, um, saying is that the existing bulk regulations, the existing bulk regulations, do not give you sufficient guidelines to regulate what you’re attempting to address as large-scale commercial boarding. 

So you have a use before you and you have a series of tools in the tool box, in the zoning tool box, and the existing standards, whether it be setback, or the floor area ratio, is insufficient as a matter of right to curtail some type of jeopardy to the adjoining property owners or the community as a whole.”

Granted, we are not fully fluent in “Kosin-speak,” however we believe we understand what he is politically treading lightly on with his response as we illustrated in, “Why Anderson II must go.”  Mr. Kosin’s remarks can be heard here.

When the roll was called two of the five Zoning Board members present voted against advancing the proposal to repeal Anderson II and three voted in favor.  A public hearing on the matter when testimony will be under oath was then scheduled for November 9th at Countryside Elementary School beginning at 6:30 PM.

The agenda and documentation will be published here when available prior to the meeting.

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phantom-developer-costume-2

Following are some of the articles published by The Observer for the month of October in recent years. These articles, gathered from various publications and editorials, are noteworthy for residents in that they remind us of where we’ve been as a community.

August 2011 Village Board minutes posted – 2011

Excerpt from ZBA report: “Three members of the Zoning Board of Appeals, Judith Freeman, Karen Rosene and Kurt Anderson, joined the Board of Trustees in the discussion of commercial boarding.  Ms. Freeman submitted a draft ordinance document regarding commercial boarding and wanted comments back from the Board of Trustees. The ZBA has proposed suggested [sic] a Special Use Permit if boarding ten or more horses.

Trustee Messer felt the Village has no overcrowding issue and we should address the issue when it comes up.  Trustee Meroni felt a Special Use Permit was an unnecessary burden.   Trustee Selman stated that horse boarding should be under Home Occupation.” (see Flip, Flop : What changed your minds Trustees Messer, Meroni and Selman?)

Complete minutes from the August 2011 Village Board meeting can be viewed here.

Developer to sell McHenry County land near Barrington Hills – 2013

A 602-acre property, most of which was disconnected from Barrington Hills during a long, intense legal fight that began early last decade, is being put up for sale by its would-be developer.  The Fritz Duda Co. is asking for $17 million for the jaggedly bordered undeveloped land at Spring Creek and Haegers Bend roads in McHenry County, along Barrington Hills’ border with Algonquin.

Read the Daily Herald story here.

Glimpses back in time at the heritage of Barrington Hills – 2015

VBH Area Map Circa 1940In the years since The Observer began, we’ve been fortunate enough to accumulate some information on the rich history that occurred before and after Barrington Hills was officially incorporated in 1957.  Today seemed to be an appropriate time to share what we’ve discovered with our readers in advance of the third annual Barrington Hills Heritage Fest taking place tomorrow.

Some time ago, a reader shared a map with us depicting what life was like in this area in 1940, and it’s quite a unique contrast from the village we now live in today.

Revisit this well-read article from last year by here.

To settle, or not to settle, that is (not) the question – 2015

We’ve had the opportunity to listen to the recordings from the September 23rd Special Village Board Meeting to hear public comment on whether to settle a suit filed against the Village over the Recent Commercial Horse Boarding code amendment.  Additionally, we’ve read all the published written comments which were submitted (seen here).

Thirty-nine people provided comments for the board to review.  None of them criticized horses, nor did they call for banning boarding in Barrington Hills.  No one called for existing horse boarding operations to be shuttered, and not one complaint was voiced against a neighboring barn, so it’s fair to say current boarding operations (save for one) are not in peril in Barrington Hills based on this small sampling.

Read the original Observer editorial here.

-The Observer

*See “WARNING: Beware of phantom developers!” for more on this year’s Halloween costume of choice among Barrington Hills youths.

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BHPDThe Barrington Hills Park District has sent a notice to residents announcing that the indoor riding arena will be closed for roof construction scheduled for October 31st through November 6th.  The notice reads:

“Construction will take approximately seven (7) days to complete.

You are welcome to ride in the outdoor arena and other areas at the Riding Center, but be aware there will be loud noises with hammering and materials being tossed into dumpsters.

Although we will be magnetizing the area, there is the possibility of roofing nails being present. If you do plan to ride, please ride with caution.”

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