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Archive for the ‘2015 Elections’ Category

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President McLaughlin

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Trustee Konicek Hannigan

On Tuesday night, Barrington Hills Village President Martin McLaughlin and Trustee Colleen Konicek Hannigan were sworn in for their second terms, and the “Your Barrington Hills” (YBH) slate candidates Paula Jacobsen and Robert Zubak were sworn in for the first time.

In his opening remarks, President McLaughlin expressed his desire that board members, both old and new, would be working together in solving issues in a collaborative way and welcomed new ideas and initiatives. As hopeful and inclusive as his words were, we are not as optimistic that the new trustees will be anything more than a retread of the ideologies and failed policies espoused in past campaigns by former Village President Bob Abboud in 2009, the “Save Five Acres” slate in 2011 or the “Save Open Space” slate in 2015. In fact, most of the strategies employed by YBH in 2017 are directly out of the old regime’s playbook.

They employed the same strategy that Abboud did in his initial run for Village Presidency in 2005; create an issue (Save Five Acres), scare the residents with false allegations via a “ghost writer” (John Rosene), and impugn the character of those running against you. That technique was right out of the pages of “Rules for Radicals” by Saul Alinsky, the patron saint of morally bankrupt liberal politicians, who believe that the end justifies the means!

Recently joining in this assault on the unwary residents of the Village was Kristina Anderson with her inflammatory and inaccurate comments to the Board of Trustees at their April meeting, as chronicled in our article April 24th Board Meeting Recordings Released

In response to the proposed Plum Farm development in Hoffman Estates on land disconnected from the Village in 2004, Anderson created a Facebook group to oppose the development primarily due to its projected tax and student impacts to School District 220 & 300 taxpayers. We applaud her and other participating residents for speaking up at Hoffman Estates public meetings on this crucial issue – it’s often these types of grass-roots movements that can have great influence.

However, in addressing the Village Board, Anderson crossed the line between innuendo and untruthfulness a number of times. She presented herself as the beacon of truth, but she provided zero evidence for her wide-ranging allegations. Here are just a few examples:

  • Allegation? Discontinuation of non-emergency police coverage.  REALITY: Untrue. Residents’ access to a non-emergency number still exists today, seven days a week. It has never gone away.  Chief Semelsberger described non-emergency call coverage during the April Board of Trustees meeting in detail. (see link. The only change is that after-hours non-emergency calls are now answered by Quad-com dispatchers, just as all village emergency 911 calls are. According to the Chief, these calls are answered by the same dispatch and our Barrington Hills officers respond as they always have if not engaged in true emergency situations.
  • Allegation? Hills and Dales Farm [sic] and Cressey’s property are already zoned by McHenry County for less than five acre lots. REALITY: Untrue. The Duchossois’ Hill ‘N Dale Farm and the Cressey’s Cresswood Farm, both located in unincorporated McHenry County, are NOT zoned for less than five acre lots. They are not zoned for lots of any size at all! Both are zoned A-1 for agriculture. This is a fact that is easily looked up and disproven.
  • Allegation? Board members haven’t declared their support for 5 acres. REALITY: Untrue. Every piece of literature from Colleen Konicek Hannigan and, Martin McLaughlin in 2013 and in 2017, and every piece of literature from Brian Croll, Michelle Maison and Brian Cecola in 2015 included a commitment to 5 acre zoning minimums. Over 5 years and in at least 12 mailers, each have each stated their support for five acre zoning. And every action by these five as members of the Board of Trustees has been consistent with maintaining this current zoning. There is not an ounce of truth to Ms. Anderson’s claims in this regard.
  • Allegation? Board members have undisclosed interests with the Hoffman Estates Plum Tree Farms developers. REALITY: Untrue. This is such a blatantly false allegation it’s hard to even take this breathless advocate of the people seriously here.  Anthony Iatarola does not have investors linked in ANY way to any members of the Board of Trustees. This claim is completely ridiculous, and, quite frankly, irresponsible.
  • Allegation? President McLaughlin and the Board of Trustees have not been using all legal means at their disposal to object to the Plum Farms development. REALITY: Untrue. As described in the aforementioned Observer summary of the April 24th Board of Trustee Meeting synopsis, many discussions, both public and behind the scenes, have taken place with participation by McLaughlin, Village Attorneys, Village Administration, Trustee Michelle Maison and others. With regard to the oft-mentioned 1.5-mile planning jurisdiction, the village’s lawyers have explained that this does not apply in this instance because Barrington Hills and Hoffman Estates do not have a border agreement (despite several overtures by Barrington Hills in recent years). South Barrington has a legal right to object because it DOES have a border agreement with its neighbor. And due to McLaughlin’s excellent relationship with South Barrington President Paula McCombie, Barrington Hills has been able to sit in on meetings with South Barrington and offer input on strategy.

The simple facts are that open space and 5 acre zoning in Barrington Hills are not threatened by the incumbent Village President and Trustees. We are extremely disappointed that a resident, and an attorney no less, would stand up at a Board Meeting and make such unfounded allegations and insinuations. And, sadly, many of those allegations also came out of Jacobsen and Zubak’s YBH campaign and were eerily reminiscent of the Abboud-backed Save 5 Acres and Save Open Space campaigns. And we are left to wonder if Ms. Anderson was making her opening statement for a 2019 trustee run. We sincerely hope not.

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Trustee Jacobsen

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Trustee Zubak

So here we are, just one month after the village election, seeing the inflammatory campaign rhetoric continue. If Jacobsen and Zubak decide to adhere to the failed strategies and policies of the deposed Abboud regime, they will only continue to divide the community, and will sadly bring more harm to the equestrian community which they profess to support.

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voteThe “Your Barrington Hills” (YBH) Riding Club slate of candidates — Louis Iacovelli, Paula Jacobsen and Robert Zubak — recently rolled out their campaign website.  Surprisingly, the site is a departure from the designs we’ve seen from the likes of the “Save 5 Acres” and “Save Open Space” slates — both visually and content-wise.

Their site design is rather bare bones, lacking pretty photography, and open space and equestrian themes that we’ve come to expect.  Although, they do utilize a nifty leaf logo. ybh__logo

And the website features very brief biographical sketches of the three candidates, while strangely and completely omitting the equestrian ties of Jacobsen and Zubak. Both are very active members of the Riding Club of Barrington Hills, and both of their spouses currently serve as Directors of the organization,  along with Iacovelli who is also a club Director (and at least lists himself as an RCBH member).

Also interesting is the list of “issues” that the “team” vows to focus upon.

  • Property rights
  • Fiscal responsibility
  • Public safety
  • Transparency

If memory serves, these are nearly the identical issues that incumbent Village President Martin McLaughlin and Trustee Colleen Konicek ran on four years ago. And they are the areas in which Marty and Colleen have successfully achieved nearly every one of those 2013 campaign goals.  The YBH team fails to elaborate on specific problems with the way the village is currently being run, although they do refer to protecting the village’s “character and value” and there is mention of “harmful development” nearby. So we might assume that the “phantom developer” might rear its head again in this election cycle.

We’ll be keeping an eye out for any new website content that may arise in the weeks before the April 4th election and we will keep our readers informed.

 

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voteElection season in Barrington Hills is gearing up as three of the four Riding Club affiliated candidates have filed organizational paperwork with the Illinois State Board of Elections. Newcomer Louis Iacovelli (challenging incumbent Village President Martin McLaughlin) and trustee candidates Robert Zubak and Paula Jacobsen have formed a new political committee, called “Your Barrington Hills”, according to recently filed documents, as can be seen here.

Iacovelli will serve as committee chairman and Zubak will act as treasurer.   So far, no campaign contributions have been reported.

It seems as though the other Riding Club candidate, former trustee Elaine Ramesh has not yet formed her own separate political committee. Her previous campaign committee  was closed in 2009.

Martin McLaughlin and incumbent Trustee Colleen Konicek Hannigan appear to be running again under their successful “Unite Barrington Hills” moniker, and according to their recently filed D-2 quarterly report, their committee currently has about $2500 in the bank.

Incidentally, the 2015 political committee for the defeated Save Open Space (team of Patty Meroni, Karen Selman and Mary Naumann still has around $12,000 on its books. Readers can only guess which candidates that money will go to support. View the SOS report here.

We’ll keep readers updated on all the candidate developments between now and the April 4th, 2017 election.

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We are very pleased to announce that we have two outstanding recipients of the 2016 Shining Star AwardTrustee Brian Cecola and Village Treasurer Margaret “Peggy” Hirsch. Each of them, in their own way, has been a force for positive change in our village government.

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As many of our readers know, Brian Cecola was elected as a Trustee in 2015 after another brutal campaign season. Voters hoped that Cecola, having been a fireman and with real-world job experience in paving and snowplowing, would be an asset on the village board. Recognizing this strong resume, Village President Martin McLaughlin assigned Cecola the chairmanship of the Roads and Bridges Committee as well as Public Safety.

Brian took to both roles easily, but he has definitely had the biggest impact when dealing with infrastructure issues. The village has made great strides in catching up on the backlog of road resurfacing projects which accumulated under the past administration. And Cecola repeatedly has gone to bat for residents to stretch their tax dollars farther. For example, the Village Engineer suggested prioritizing resurfacing the Village Hall parking lots when a surplus in the Roads and Bridges Budget emerged this year. Instead, Cecola instructed the engineer to move forward to this year other future road projects which would be more beneficial to residents, after confirming with the engineer that delaying the parking lot project would not lead to dangerous deterioration in the short term. And, in 2015, Brian requested a new bid proposal for restriping the village hall lots after determining the original bidder was much too high, again saving taxpayers money.

During the process of the reconstruction of the Cuba Road Bridge (now named Veteran’s Crossing Bridge), when it was discovered that numerous utilities had been relocated incorrectly, Cecola took a pro-active role in meeting with Com Ed to discuss the problems their crews had caused by their newly installed, but misplaced, utility poles. Corrective action was expedited by ComEd, and a potentially significant delay in the completion of the bridge project was averted due to Brian’s intervention.

Brian has also pushed for Village membership into the Northwest Municipal Conference, which was approved by the Board of Trustees via an Intergovernmental Agreement with Cook County. As a result, the schedule for the direly needed rehabilitation of Brinker Road should be accelerated, and Federal funds should be available to help with the costs, without any need for bike lanes to be integrated into the project.

In addition to his service on the Barrington Hills Village Board, Brian is also very active in the community – he is immediate Past-President of the Barrington Lions Club and is instrumental in the annual Fourth of July Brat Tent and Barrington Fourth of July activities, along with his wife Stephanie.

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Our second 2016 Shining Star is Margaret “Peggy” Hirsch. Peggy took on the part-time role of Village Treasurer in March 2016, and has impressed us with her high level of skill and competence. She has brought an impressive resume to the office, having earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Notre Dame and an MBA from the University of Chicago. She has held numerous high-ranking financial positions at top firms in the Chicago area, and has also served as Treasurer for the Village of Lake Barrington since 2013, bringing much needed municipal experience to her new position in our village.

Hirsch makes it a point to attend Board of Trustee meetings where she capably and easily fields questions from the trustees on a myriad of complex monthly financial reports. Her thoroughness and professionalism are apparent and the village should consider itself lucky to have an individual of her caliber on its staff.

Peggy and her husband David are also Barrington Hills residents, and they both dedicate their talents to TeamDad, LLC, created by David in 1998 to support the efforts of Illinois Fatherhood Initiative and other non-profit fatherhood organizations across the United States.

We should be proud as a village to have Brian Cecola and Peggy Hirsch volunteer their talents to serve their hometown community. These 2016 Shining Star award recipients are to be commended for the time and energy they devote on a daily basis to making Barrington Hills a better place for us to live. Thank you from your neighbors and from all of us at the Observer!

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Twain FoolNow that the Zoning Board of Appeals has begun to consider amending regulations of commercial horse boarding and training in Barrington Hills, we’re noticing the same “timeworn misinformation” surfacing in blogs and comments to the Zoning Board, which we shared in a recent editorial titled, “Here we go again”.

This misinformation is emanating from a small, but raucous group of resident and non-resident equestrians.  And, unfortunately, this has made it very difficult for other homeowners living in the village to determine what to believe amidst all of the noise, so we decided to do some factual research to set the record straight.

We reviewed meeting minutes from Village archives dating back to 1957 in search of some facts and discovered the following information excerpted from the minutes of an April 25, 1960, meeting of the Board of Trustees (seen here):

     “The President [Andrew Dallstream] advised the board that he and Mr. Harold Smith, Trustee, had visited the Countryside Riding School on Bateman and Penny Roads, had examined their facilities and discussed the operation of the school with the manager.  After a resume of the importance of horsemanship to the community, the President asked for a report from the Zoning Committee. 

[Trustees] Mr. Delmar Olson and Mr. Stresen-Reuter then reported they had also visited the school and had found the facilities adequate, the plan of operation satisfactory, but that it was a riding school for profit.   Mr. Canby [Village Attorney] advised that it is his considered opinion that a school for profit is not an agricultural pursuit and that therefore the Countryside Riding School is in violation of the zoning ordinance of Barrington Hills. 

Mr. Stresen-Reuter asked Mr. Albert F. Moore and Dr. M. J. Thompson, whose properties are near the school, to express their views.  Both Mr. Moore and Dr. Thompson said they are against any violation of the zoning ordinance.  Mr. Grigsby, chairman of the Zoning Committee, asked them to submit a formal written complaint, at which time the Village will advise the Countryside Riding School that they are in violation of the village statutes and order them to cease and desist.” 

Two months later, the village attorney reported, “… the Countryside Riding School was no longer in operation,” during the June 19, 1960 Board of Trustees meeting.

But how could this happen way back then?  Couldn’t equestrians do nearly anything they wished as some residents are being led to believe today?

After all, this was 1960 Barrington Hills!  There were only 1,726 residents at that time and much of Barrington Hills land was still being farmed, so neighbors were likely distant from the school.  And Andrew Dallstream (“Andy” as the SOS Party referred to him) supposedly founded Barrington Hills to be, “Dedicated to an equestrian lifestyle,” (according to a post on the SOS Party’s Facebook page in April 2015), so what changed his mind?

Clearly the answer is that the founders of Barrington Hills did not approve of commercial businesses in our village, and considering their decision regarding the aforementioned riding school in 1960, they would not have agreed with anything remotely similar to the current Anderson/LeCompte Commercial Horse Boarding Ordinance – regardless of the acknowledged “importance of horsemanship to the community”.

Some may wonder if we’re advocating the closure of existing commercial boarding and training facilities in the Village based on this historical precedent, and the answer is NO.  Sometime after 1960, someone “left the barn door open” to large-scale boarding.  However, we do fervently believe the Village should regulate any proposed new facilities.

-The Observer

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If the title of this piece sounds familiar, it should be.  In May of 2014, we published a similarly titled editorial, “Here We Go Again. . . . Commercial Horse Boarding Drama Returns.”  Click here to revisit it.

We’ve written numerous editorials about the seemingly incessant nearly decade–long debate on how Barrington Hills should regulate large-scale horse boarding– due primarily to misinformation circulated by a small faction of self-serving activists in our once peaceful community.

Since this same, timeworn misinformation is appearing again in social media now that the Zoning Board of Appeals is considering revisions to our boarding codes, we’d like to dispel what’s become “old nag’s tales” spun in websites, mailings and public hearings:

“Barrington Hills is an Equestrian Community” Only in 2005 was Barrington Hills branded as a rural equestrian community by the then newly elected village president in return for the Riding Club’s support of his campaign.  The fact is Barrington Hills is a rural residential community that is equine friendly. However, the ability to keep horses is not what attracted most residents to our community.

A 2012 survey conducted by The Observer (seen here) showed 65% of residents moved to Barrington Hills for open space and privacy, while only 13% moved to Barrington Hills to keep horses. “Borrowing” our survey results, the 2015 “Save Open Space” (SOS) campaign committee tried to play on the motivations of the majority of residents who moved here for open space with rhetoric very similar to what we’re witnessing today.

“Barrington Hills was founded as an equestrian community” This is news to most, but nonetheless, false.  Barrington Hills was incorporated in 1957 based on “A desire to retain the rustic landscape.”

In fact, the 1978 Barrington Hills Comprehensive Plan (seen here) only references the words horse, horses and horseback six times in the entire document, and horse boarding is never mentioned.  And, the introduction of the 1978 plan described Barrington Hills as follows:

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(Click on image to enlarge)

It’s also interesting to note that this 1978 plan encouraged a “safe and attractive system of pathways for walking, biking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing.”  Clearly, times have changed.

The 1978 plan also cautions, “The possibility of pollution from animal wastes exists related to horses which are stabled in the lower portion of the reach,“ referring to an area, “west of the Spring Creek Nature Preserve between Lake-Cook Road to the north and Algonquin Road to the southwest.”

The 2008 Barrington Hills Comprehensive Plan mentions horse, horses and horseback eighteen times, but many of those references are cautionary regarding the environment and potential pollution to groundwater from the equines.  And thirty years later, a warning of contamination from animal waste from horses stabled in that same area west of the Forest Preserve was reiterated.

As far as horse boarding is concerned, the 2008 plan makes no mention at all of horse boarding.  NONE!

However, we believe, if properly regulated, boarding facilities can provide a benefit to residents seeking the pleasure of riding without the upkeep.

“Those favoring reasonable residential boarding codes are ‘anti-horse’ or ‘horse haters’” Ridiculous! Who among us in Barrington Hills doesn’t appreciate horses?  We don’t know any – not one!

But many people have issues with the owners of the horses who choose to obfuscate their selfish behavior by capitalizing on the noble horse.

These ridiculous assertions fall flat when considering how some in social media seem to regard non-equestrians, as we opined in our 2015 editorial, “We’ve Been Clubbed by Commercial Horse Boarding.”  Click here to revisit this piece, including many reader comments.  Or, just click here to learn how non-equestrian homeowners are perceived by a current Barrington Hills Park District commissioner who is also president of the Barrington Hills Polo Club.  The author has dismissed the outrage created by his essay, calling his piece “ironic”, yet his ilk finds nothing ironic about the current RJE debate.

“Our five-acre zoning depends on horses and boarding” This is another fallacy.  Five-acre zoning in Barrington Hills is secured by our Comprehensive Plan and supporting Village Code.  If we were four, three or two-acre zoned, the same claim would be made.

If five-acre zoning was ever threatened in our village history, it would likely have occurred in the mid-1970’s when village housing starts were at an all-time high, as were subdivision applications.  Between building permits and subdivision plans, about 1,000 acres of property were protected by our five acre zoning at that time from developers wanting to build tract homes.

“Requiring special use permits for larger horse boarding operations mean the end of boarding in Barrington Hills” No it won’t.  It just means boarding facilities over a certain size will need the approval of adjacent neighbors.

Under the 2014 boarding ordinance, a developer of a boarding facility can do just about whatever they wish, without any regard for neighboring property owners’ desires for peace, privacy or possible line of sight objections from their homes.

Considering that a homeowner must supply significant documentation to apply for a special use permit to construct even a small pond, it seems incomprehensible, and inconsistent that a large boarding operation can construct an arena larger than the size of the dwelling on a property and not be subject to such scrutiny.

 “There have been no complaints under the new boarding codes” Well, when all the residential rights are stripped from people living adjacent to or near boarding facilities, so too are their grounds for complaints.

In order for a noise complaint to be addressed, the disturbance from the facility must be heard from inside the neighboring home.  So, essentially, a neighbor is driven inside their house and is not free to enjoy their own property from their deck, or must keep their windows closed if the activity next door is too loud.

Plus, non-equestrian residents (and even some equestrians) are often discouraged from complaining, due to the overly aggressive and intimidating demeanor of many of the most zealous equestrians.

Summary:  The time and energy to refute the misleading and false information we’ve described is of a far greater magnitude than it is for some in our community to spew it.

Unfortunately, as John Kass of the Chicago Tribune recently wrote, some people have no capacity for shame, so we’ll continue to endeavor to provide facts, not fiction, not fable and not nag’s tales.

-The Observer

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The Zoning Board of Appeals will be holding their regular monthly meeting this evening at 7:30 PM.   The topic for discussion will be commercial horse boarding codes according to the agenda, which can be viewed here.

Pro-TemGohlThe 48-page ePacket agenda (seen here) contains a number of historical documents, most of which have been published in these pages over the many years this topic has been discussed.  One new item to be found in the file, however, is a recent letter from Trustee Fritz Gohl who cautions the members of the Zoning Board of opening “Pan Dora Door’s Box” should they consider revising our current commercial horse boarding codes.  

Gohl’s thoughts on the matter of commercial horse boarding can be read here.

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