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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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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:

(Click on image to enlarge)

(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 four Barrington Hills political committees still active with the Illinois State Board of Elections have submitted their financial reports for the first quarter of 2016.  Click on any of the following committees to view their filings:

Most of the reports reveal the predictable financials one would expect, but the SOS Party spent an unusual amount of money considering this is a non-election year.  According to their report, SOS spent about $7,700 for consulting services and advertising.

Our first inclination was to assume they decided to assist another political committee financially in the March primaries, however the law requires disclosure of the receiving committee.  Since the SOS Party is listed as the beneficiary of the expenses in their report, perhaps they are getting an early start on the 2017 Village campaign, but why so early and what were they advertising in the Chicago Tribune?

The only other explanation might be they are just a year late in paying their overdue bills from the 2015 campaign, but we doubt it.

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Friday FlashbackFollowing are some of the articles published by The Observer for the month of March 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.

Barrington Hills candidates sign Civility Covenant – 2011

An e-mail has been circulating the village concerning civility during the campaign for the village board, containing a Civility Covenant that all of the candidates were asked to sign. The covenant was adapted from Jim Wallis’ “Seven Steps to Civility in the Upcoming Election.”

Read the 2011 letter to the editor of the Daily Herald here.

What residents should know about electrical aggregation – 2012

On March 20th, Barrington Hills residents will be asked to vote on a referendum question to determine whether to permit our Village leaders to pursue an aggregation agreement with an alternate electrical energy provider.  The Observer has researched this topic, and our answer is “maybe” given what we’ve discovered.

Read the original Observer editorial here.

Two highways versus one country road – 2014

Very little has been communicated to Village residents about the Longmeadow Parkway Project until the last twelve months.  Even less has been communicated to residents about the Algonquin Western Bypass due for completion later this year unless they hear muffled references to the project in Village Board meeting recordings.

Nevertheless, both projects will have dramatic, unavoidable impacts on currently congested rush hour traffic congestion from County Line Rd. south in our Village.

Read the full editorial here.

Horse boarding rules already facing legal challenge – 2015

Barrington Hills is being sued by a group of residents who want the village to tear up the new horse boarding rules just weeks after they were finally approved.

The new rules went into effect after a majority of village board members voted to overturn Village President Marty McLaughlin’s veto on February 23. The rules allow one boarded horse per acre on properties smaller than 10 acres and two horses per acre for larger properties.

Read the original posting including comments and the link to the Daily Herald story here.

Barrington Hills polo competition will continue, after all – 2015

Reports of a popular Barrington Hills polo tournament’s demise turned out to be exaggerated, after the village board voted Monday to extend The Kalaway Cup Polo Event’s special use permit for the next 20 years.

Earlier this month, a proposal to extend the permit failed to receive the votes it needed from the village’s zoning board, prompting concerns that the annual competition would end after this year. Barrington Hills Polo Club President John Rosene sent out a news release calling the vote “a tragedy,” and saying the event had been killed.

The original posting, including the link to the full article can be accessed here.

-The Observer

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