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Archive for the ‘Riding Club of BH’ Category

 

IDOT IL 62 Study“BARRINGTON, IL – A public meeting will be held on Thursday, Nov. 9 to discuss road improvements proposed on Illinois Route 62 in Barrington Hills. The Illinois Department of Transportation will accept public comments at the meeting and written comments that are mailed or submitted online until Dec. 1.

IDOT didn’t specify what improvements are planned on the main Barrington Hills thoroughfare except that they are planned between Illinois 25 and Illinois 68, a stretch that covers most of the village. Preliminary engineering and environmental studies have already begun.

The hearing, planned from 4-7 p.m. on Nov. 9 at the Barrington Park District, 235 Lions Drive in Barrington, will introduce the project, obtain public input and inform those in attendance about additional public involvement opportunities.

Exhibits will be on display and an audio-visual presentation will be shown during the open-house format meeting.

The official public meeting record will include comments heard in person, mailed and ones that will be submitted online here.”

The original press release in the Barrington Patch can be seen here.

In addition, IDOT has set up a website for the project which does not include any further details, but we will continue to monitor it for any updates.  We did note that the logo (above) for the project contains a horse, trees and a bicycle.

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2017HillsAreAlive

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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 Barrington Hills Park District recently issued two recent press releases, one concerning renovation of the tennis courts at Countryside School, and the other announcing a survey being conducted by the Horsemen’s Council of Illinois.

BHPD Logo

Tennis Courts Temporarily Closed for Renovation

The Barrington Hills Park District tennis courts located at Countryside School are closed for major renovation.
The courts will be resurfaced and a new 30-foot seating area for viewing will be constructed. The project is scheduled for completion in late August.
We will provide updates on construction and official reopening.
The BATA summer tennis program will be relocated to Barrington High School during construction.

Horsemen’s Council of Illinois Survey
If you own a horse, ride a horse, provide services to the horse community, sell horse related products, or teach equine science, let your voice be heard.
Take the online Horsemen’s Council of Illinois Survey: http://bit.ly/2rYi6Fg
Survey Flyer 4
Note: The Observer finds it interesting the Park District to whom the majority of Barrington Hills residents pay property taxes is promoting a survey by a private special interest group using their own advertising messages and slogans.

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2017VBHBallotTuesday, April 4th marks yet another turning point in the history of the village of Barrington Hills. Residents will go to the polls again faced with a choice of continuing to advance the positive trends of the last four years, or backsliding into the mired legacy of the last administration. Three trustee positions and the office of village president are being contested.

The achievements of President Martin McLaughlin and Trustee Colleen Konicek Hannigan over their first term have been nothing short of amazing, even more so, when you consider that for their first two years they had to work with a five person opposition bloc on the Board who were blindly loyal to the old regime, and who fought against change on nearly every front. We won’t waste space here again repeating all of Marty and Colleen’s fulfilled campaign promises here, but instead refer you to the words of the Daily Herald Editorial Board when it said, “Barrington Hills has recorded some notable accomplishments and is on a constructive course for maintaining the town’s prosperity and rural charm, led by a village board whose members are dedicated and independent”, in endorsing both McLaughlin and Hannigan. We concur with their very enthusiastic endorsement.

Six candidates are vying for the two other open trustee positions. The two individuals running under the “Your Barrington Hills” (YBH) banner, along with former trustee Elaine Ramesh, despite rather desperate attempts to minimize and criticize the notable achievements of the last four years, are nothing more than “Save 5 Acres” version 3.0.

The YBH campaign has been marked by negative mailings flooding our mailboxes, attempting to create crises where none exist. Not only do they fail to acknowledge the positive accomplishments of the McLaughlin administration, they ridiculously try to imply that the village has not been prudently managed and that services have suffered. Even the specter of the phantom developer has been raised again.

As detailed in Meet the Candidates Part One and Part Two, Jacobsen, Zubak and Ramesh are distancing themselves from their extremist equestrian bias, in what we see as a deliberate attempt to mislead voters from their true agenda.  We believe that the ultimate goal of these Trojan Horsemen candidates is to reinstate ordinances permitting unbridled, large-scale commercial boarding and unimpeded related commercial equestrian activities in the Village to the benefit of their friends, at the expense of the rights of the rest of us to the peaceful enjoyment of our homes.  Electing any of these individuals will be a setback to the reforms of the past four years and will be a danger to all of our residential rights.  They have shown themselves to be completely uninformed on the true state of village affairs, and will be little more than puppets for the former regime.

That is why we are endorsing the two other independent candidates on the ballot – Matt Vondra and Ralph Sesso.

Matt Vondra, a resident since 2012, is a consultant in logistics and business development, who works for contractors in heavy and highway construction. Matt volunteers on the Executive Committee of the Barrington Area Conservation Trust and recently won the Audubon Society’s Grassroots Conservation Leadership Award for his work on the restoration plan of the Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, Illinois.

Ralph Sesso has lived in Barrington Hills for 23 years and is an investment fund manager and a certified financial planner. He and his wife raised their four children in the village. He is running to help preserve the long standing tradition of open space and the rural nature of our community. He is also personally interested in residents finding ways to live peaceably with each other, despite differences on political issues.

Vondra and Sesso possess unique professional skills, and both are supportive of the reforms and results that Marty and Colleen have instituted over the last four years. The Observer feels strongly that these two independent candidates would work well with the current board in continuing the positive trends of fiscal responsibility and creative approaches that have become hallmarks of our village government today.

We urge you to make your voices heard again as you go to the polls on Tuesday April 4th to support McLaughlin for President, and Hannigan, Vondra and Sesso for Trustees.

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Less than a week remains until the election, and predictably, a flurry of 11th hour campaign mailings are landing in mailboxes, proclaiming breaking news and urgent bulletins, all carefully timed to prevent rebuttal by their targets, Martin McLaughlin and Colleen Konicek Hannigan.

This time, the mailings, which are highly critical of Marty and Colleen, are coming from a private citizen, rather than a candidate’s campaign committee, so we will not name the person in question.  But the individual is well known as a key member of the polo club,  as one of the most extreme equestrians in the village and as a bosom buddy of the former village president. Readers should be familiar with his notorious 2005 White Paper.

In his first mailing, he basically repeated many of the fabricated claims that have been raised by the Your Barrington Hills candidates Iacovelli, Jacobsen and Zubak, whom he supports, along with Equestrienne Ramesh.  Our feature Meet the Candidates Part Two: YBH — the Trojan Horsemen, published yesterday, set the record straight on many of those issues.

The second letter received today alleges a lawsuit recently filed against the village concerning commercial horse boarding is being hidden from residents.  The writer attempts rile up the electorate with false outrage and cries of lack of transparency.  Funny thing is, he fails to mention that one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is the very same owner/operator of the commercial boarding operation on Bateman Road that has already cost our village taxpayers hundreds of thousands in legal fees in numerous lawsuits over the last decade.  Oh, and the letter writer’s polo club has an arrangement with that plaintiff to use the polo field at that very boarding facility.

So what about the assertion that the trustees and the public have not been made aware of the lawsuit?  Untrue. We direct you to the recently released recording of the Village Board meeting held on March 21st, 2017 when the lawsuit was IN FACT discussed in open session in the first board meeting held after the case was filed.  Click here to hear Village Attorney Patrick Bond’s statement that the Board was emailed a litigation update regarding the amended complaint in connection with that case.  It is apparent that both the Board and the public have been made aware of the filings.

[We wonder where the letter writer’s outrage was when the Sears litigation went on for 13 YEARS without mention to the public until President McLaughlin took it upon himself to work with South Barrington to settle that suit, which could have meant a $20 million dollar judgment against the two villages if Sears had prevailed.]

The March 21st recordings also include the Chief of Police Rich Semelsberger describing the village’s continuing use of the CTY Community Alert System.  His discussion not only makes it clear that the alert system has not been abandoned, but actually has been used, in his words, ” very liberally” for announcements of road closures, chemical spills, missing persons, etc.  He further clarified that the Police Department makes the decision to issue an alert, not the president or the board, and that the Department balances the public’s need to know with the timeliness of the message.  Semelsberger’s comments about the CTY alerts, including a mention of a FOIA request having been filed and fulfilled on the topic, can be heard here.

The Chief also responded to a Board question about police staffing here, and explained that in the 28 years that he has been with the department, there have always been a minimum of two officers on patrol at any given time.  Currently there are two officers out on extended injury, and as a result, other personnel have been reassigned to ensure adequate coverage.  Additionally, there are two new officers scheduled to begin training at the Illinois State Police Academy on April 9th, as a result of a screening process that began last year.

So, the claims about the “hidden lawsuit” are false. Claims about the abandonment of the CTY Alert System are false. Claims about insufficient police staffing are false. Claims about FOIA expenses are false. Claims about rebranding are false. Claims about 911 dispatch outsourcing are false. And on, and on, and on.

Four days remain until the election, and we see the same pitiful pattern of deception that we’ve seen in previous campaigns. Outrageous claims are made, lawsuits and FOIA requests filed, and last minute grenades are launched — all by the same bad actors.  It’s the same small vocal group, inextricably tied to the former president, that spews misinformation and attempts to bully and intimidate the regular folks in the village.  In 2013, voters said “Enough!” In 2015, they shouted “ENOUGH!”  In 2017, let’s get the big hook out and finally drag those bad actors off of the village stage once and for all.

We encourage our readers to stay informed and to share our posts with their friends and neighbors as this critical campaign draws to a conclusion on Tuesday.

[NOTE: The Observer itself is mentioned in both of the aforementioned mailings, and we have to say that free advertising is always appreciated, although not needed, as our readership is booming.]

 

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TruthWC

Three candidates running on the “Your Barrington Hills” (YBH) slate are seeking public office for the first time in Barrington Hills. Their names (Louis Iacovelli for president, Paula Jacobsen and Robert Zubak for trustee) are not familiar to most residents, as none of them have had any prior experience or position in our village government. However, their names are definitely well-known in the equestrian community, as they and their spouses have been intimately involved in the Riding Club of Barrington Hills (RCBH). As we’ve published previously, all three of these candidates and Elaine Ramesh, running separately from the slate, have all meticulously avoided nearly any reference to their penchant for all things equestrian during their campaigns.

The question being asked is, did these three choose to run because of their genuine interest in the welfare of all village residents, or did they run at the behest of others who share a hidden agenda?

The YBH candidates, can find no real fault with the record of the current administration, and have had to manufacture issues, frequently grossly misrepresenting facts in their mailers, social media platforms and their newspaper interviews, a technique taken out of the playbook of the former village president, and the Save 5 Acres and SOS campaigns in recent election cycles. Not only are their allegations not based in fact,  their responses to the candidate questionnaires published in two suburban newspapers, are nearly identical, as if penned by the same hand. They all present the same, disingenuous information, either by design to discredit and malign the current administration, or by laziness in researching village documents. Whatever the reason for the deception, none are worthy of candidacy for Village office.

Let’s examine some of the spin coming out of the Riding Club camp:

  • YBH Spin: The new 911 dispatch service is not working as well as the former in-house system?  REALITY: This is not supported by fact. According to the Chief of Police, the outsourced system actually provides better coverage and faster response times.
  • YBH Spin: Police coverage has diminished, thereby endangering residents’ safety. REALITY: This is not supported by fact, as the Village, with a static population, has had the same number of officers in the field for twenty years.
  • YBH Spin: There are no commercial businesses in Barrington Hills, and the village does not collect sales tax? REALITY: This is not supported by fact. There are a few businesses in the village, and annually $120,000 – $130,000 in sales taxes revenue is collected from them, according to Village records.
  • YBH Spin: The Village is being re-branded as embracing small lots? REALITY: This is not supported by fact. As best as we can figure, YBH is claiming this because the village website states “Large properties ranging from one to 10+ acres give residents more freedom to live how they want…” This is nothing more than a statement of fact. And, if Louis, Paula or Bob were actually familiar with the village’s official zoning map, they would know that 1-acre, 2-acre and 3-acre properties currently exist within Barrington Hills and have existed for decades (Burning Oak Trail, Barrington Bourne and Ashbury Lane to name just a few neighborhoods that have lots under 5 acres). These R-2, R-3 and R-4 districts are also referenced in the Village’s Comprehensive Plan.
  • YBH Spin: Open spaces are at risk and must be saved? REALITY: This is not supported by fact. Since the 2013 elections, to date, only 14 permits for single-family home construction have been issued for properties, all on 5 or more acres, with NO applications for subdivisions.
  • YBH Spin: FOIA expenses are out of control? REALITY: This is not supported by fact. Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) expenses are documented to be less than they were prior to 2013, and majority of the current expense can be attributed to three individuals, all of whom support this three-person slate.
  • YBH Spin: The current Administration is not protecting residents from intrusion by development in neighboring communities? REALITY: This is not supported by fact. The main issues raised by the Riding Club slate are Longmeadow Parkway (LMP) and the pending Plum Farm Development in Hoffman Estates, both of which could have been mitigated by the previous administration with proper proactive negotiation. The current administration has acted to the limits of the law in its attempts to discourage these plans. In addition to its resolution against LMP, the McLaughlin administration has opposed and spoken out against the IAA Auto Yard in East Dundee, the Speedway development in Lake Barrington in 2015, and voted against the widening of Route 62 2014-2017. And within the last month, Barrington Hills passed a 20-year border agreement with South Barrington.
  • YBH Spin: The Village Levy has not increased in twelve years? REALITY: This misrepresents the facts. According to published village financial records, the levy under the previous regime was set at $6,565,273 as set by previous administration in each of years 2011-2012-2013. The Village Board, lead by McLaughlin and trustee Colleen Konicek Hannigan LOWERED the levy in each successive year from 2014 through 2016, down to $$5,319,862. This represents a cumulative reduction in the Levy of $1,736,467.

So we ask again: are these poor hapless candidates just dazed and confused, or have these hard-core equestrians been  coached by three village residents who have strong personal reasons to support this slate of Iacovelli, Jacobsen and Zubak, (as well as Elaine Ramesh whose candidacy was the subject of our previous feature)? Their close associates include 1) the vocal large-scale commercial boarding operator who has been involved in on-going litigation with the village for eight years, 2) the chairman of a large undeveloped property located in unincorporated McHenry County, who has been fanning the flames of controversy over repeal of the flawed Anderson II horse boarding ordinance, and 3) of course, the former village president who apparently is desirous of once again imposing his failed agendas upon our village.

We believe that the ultimate goal of all four of these candidates is to reinstate ordinances to permit unbridled, large-scale commercial boarding and unimpeded related commercial equestrian activities to the Village, at the expense of the rights of the rest of us to the peaceful enjoyment of our homes.

Unbridled commercial equestrian activities may be THEIR Barrington Hills, but it’s not OUR Barrington Hills.

 

 

 

 

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