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The Canadian National Railroad is asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a permit to construct a 4.27-mile-long second track adjoining the existing mainline track between Hoffman Estates and Elgin. The new rails would run between Shoe Factory and Spaulding roads and west of Poplar Creek Forest Preserve.

CN said the new and existing tracks would create a 6-mile reliever allowing an “uninterrupted flow” of northbound and southbound freight trains.

“The project will enhance the safe and efficient flow of rail traffic including the Milwaukee District West Line of Metra,” CN spokesman Alexandre Boulé said. “Commuters should also see reduced delays at Shoe Factory Road.”

Metra officials could not confirm CN’s assertions.

The Army Corps is involved because CN’s plan to mitigate impacts to Poplar Creek and its tributaries, which connect to the Fox River downstream, requires government approval under the Clean Water Act.

Read more here.

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ar-181109055 South Barrington would become home to an extension of Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery for military veterans under a federal agency’s proposal that’s drawn concern from the village’s mayor about periodic rifle volleys expected at the site.

Under what’s called an urban initiative, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs wants to acquire 15 acres near Mundhank and Freeman roads for the columbarium cemetery. Documents show federal officials are developing a master plan to start with 5,000 niches for cremated remains to be placed in a series of walls, growing to 50,000 over 100 years.

Officials from the VA’s National Cemetery Administration will host a public presentation on the plan from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Hilton Garden Inn, 2425 Barrington Road in Hoffman Estates. Those who attend may provide feedback to the federal representatives.

If built, the South Barrington cemetery would provide a more convenient Chicago-area military burial option for eligible veterans and their families as part of the push to have such facilities closer to a city core, according to the VA. Lincoln National in Elwood is 57 miles from downtown Chicago.

Ceremonies would occur at the proposed South Barrington cemetery, including rifle volleys honoring the veterans before they are laid to rest. The rifle fire is expected three to five times per weekday when there are burials.

“Our veterans earned VA burial benefits and are recognized with a memorial honor guard,” agency spokesman Rick Fox said. “Rifle volleys that are part of this recognition would occur between the hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays. The site would be designed in a manner to direct the associated rifle volley noise away from the existing residences.

But South Barrington Mayor Paula McCombie, who stressed she supports veterans, said the “misguided” proposal would not fit in an area that includes the Barrington Homestead Estates and The Preserve of South Barrington residential subdivisions. Cook County’s Paul Douglas Forest Preserve is just west of the VA’s proposed project.

“We would love to have them in South Barrington, but at that location, considering they’re going to be firing guns off three to five times a day in a residential district and disturbing the peace of the residents that back up to the facility, we have to wait to hear from our residents to see what their opinion is of this,” McCombie said.

Under the VA’s tentative proposal, a main entrance wall and gate would be built with U.S. flags leading into the cemetery. There also would be natural and ornamental landscaping, a funeral cortège parking area, 30-foot-by-30-foot committal service shelter, a memorial marker wall and a roughly 1,300-square-foot public information and restroom building where visitors could use an electronic gravesite locator.

The full Daily Herald article can be read here.

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Screen Shot 2018-08-26 at 2.45.14 PMOnce again, supporters of former Village President Bob Abboud have taken to the social media networks to begin creating a false controversy to stir the pot prior to the 2019 Village Board Elections.

Recently, some Facebook pages have started publishing information about the proposed Plum Farms Development in Hoffman Estates. One of these pages is purportedly run by the same individual who publicly cast aspersions upon the character of the Village President and members of the Board of Trustees in April of 2017 (but was unwilling and unable to provide any corroboration of her ridiculous accusations). See April 24th Board meeting recordings released.

Long-time readers of the Observer will recognize the same tired tactics of the Abboud-o-philes: create a false controversy, then stir up resident sentiment against current leadership and against those whom they may support in the upcoming elections. Save 5 Acres! Save Horse Boarding! Ban the Bikes! Save Open Space! Save Polo!

The Plum Farms Development in Hoffman Estates was used as a major 2017 campaign issue by Trustees Paula Jacobsen and Robert Zubak, but both have been eerily silent on the issue for well over a year. As candidates, Jacobsen and Zubak were so adamant about the Village having legal standing, authority and ability to impact this development, and they vowed to be the voices to vigorously “oppose harmful development”.

Today, as it was then, they chose to remain ignorant to the simple fact that this issue was over in 2004 when Bob Abboud and former administrator Bob Kosin botched the chance to work with the landowner to come to a development compromise that would have kept the property within the village, and would have protected our community from the dangers of deannexation of the parcel into an adjacent town with an insatiable hunger for more tax dollars.

But in fact, the current administration has been working in concert with South Barrington and District 220 to slow the progress of this development.  Strange that this hasn’t been reported by any of the social media outlets managed by those folks who enjoy stirring the pot.  Accusations of inaction and mismanagement by President McLaughlin and others on the Board will be aired, but nary a word of criticism of Jacobsen or Zubak.

And speaking of Jacobsen, the more vocal of the less-than-dynamic duo, what has she personally done with regard to Plum Farms as a Trustee? Nothing.  She bemoaned the Longmeadow Parkway project as a candidate, but did she volunteer to be on the IDOT advisory board for Route 62?  Nope.

Does anyone remember the laundry list of issues that she & Zubak used as their campaign platform? We do.

YBH_issues

The only issue they are truly interested in is commercial horse boarding, which wasn’t in their campaign platform at all.  Strange…

And back to that lengthy list of issues — what have they accomplished from that list? Nothing. And why?  Because none of those “problems” actually existed.

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Paula Jacobsen with former trustee Fritz Gohl

However, Jacobsen, who has been absent from more than 26% of the fifteen Board Meetings held since she was elected as trustee, has had the opportunity to advocate for some other interesting issues.  As stated in our previous articles, May and June 2017 Board meeting recordings released  and July Board Meeting recordings released , she has found time to question the meeting minutes which characterized her friend’s public comments at the April 24thboard meeting as slanderous.  She has questioned why the Village couldn’t have employed a warmer and fuzzier process to inform a property owner of their violation of a cease and desist order with regard to illegal demolition of a residence and violation of the tree ordinance. It should be noted that the property owner in that case was a prominent donor to her trustee campaign.

Jacobsen has pondered the complexity of the Exterior Lighting Ordinance and wondered if it shouldn’t be revisited and revised, oblivious to the divisive history of the ordinance.  Coincidentally, her interest in lighting ordinance enforcement occurred only when another friend of hers had filed a complaint against a neighbor.

Paula has also suggested giving landmark status to historical homes in the village.  When asked to explain who would be the arbiter of this distinction and the mechanics of implementation or enforcement, she had no suggestion.

She also has given detailed reports of Arbor Day plans by the Heritage & Environs Committee at no fewer than three meetings. Let’s hear it for the oak sapling giveaway!!

And there has been advocacy for costly live video-streaming of Village Board meetings, which are only attended by a handful of the same residents each month.

It is not surprising that NONE of these issues were in the Jacobsen/Zubak campaign platform and that NONE of the issues in the platform have been pursued by the duo in any meaningful way in the past fifteen months.

And why is that? Because a quiet village operating harmoniously is not something the Abboud-o-philes can tolerate.  They must have controversy and they will create controversy were none exists. And when faced with the reality that President McLaughlin & this Administration have delivered on each and every promise they have made to the community, they pivot back to the old worn-out talking points. The village is operating better than it ever has, spending has been slashed and services are more efficient.  And that makes some embittered people very unhappy.  Change is not easy for some. And they are desperate to regain control.

So the pot stirring will continue.  With a little eye of newt and toe of frog mixed in for good measure.  Here’s hoping that this bad spell will be broken soon.

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BACC-HiRes-cropSeveral officials representing schools, libraries, park districts and other local governments in the Barrington area will address the issues facing their constituents during an upcoming public forum.

Hosted by the Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce, the second annual “Public Town Hall Forum” lets Barrington area residents hear from their local officials directly and under one roof, said Suzanne Corr, president and CEO of the Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce.

“This public town hall forum offers residents and business leaders in the Barrington area a chance to hear firsthand vital information about how their tax dollars are being used in our communities,” Corr said in a news release.

Attendees also can submit questions to the speakers during the event, which starts at 8 a.m. April 25 at Makray Memorial Golf Club, 1010 S. Northwest Highway, Barrington.

To register for the event, interested residents can call 847-381-2525 or visit the chamber’s web site at www.barringtonchamber.com.

The speakers for this year’s forum include Jesse Henning, the new executive director of the Barrington Area Library; Brian Harris, superintendent of Barrington School District 220; Jim Kreher, fire chief of the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District; Dennis Kelly, treasurer of the Barrington Hills Park District; Teresa Jennings, executive director of the Barrington Park District; Jay Morgan, executive director of the South Barrington Park District; and Kenneth Ender, president of Harper College, the chamber said.

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

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unnamedA late addition to a newly approved residential development that could add more than 1,000 units in Hoffman Estates still hasn’t changed the minds of officials at Barrington School District 220.

The Barrington-based district has opposed the development since the project developer, 5a7 LLC in Barrington, proposed building residences on 185 acres near routes 59 and 72, arguing the massive housing project would overcrowd certain District 220 schools near the site.

Hoffman Estates officials decided to delay a vote on the proposal earlier this spring after District 220 and other area taxing bodies resoundingly rejected a proposed tax-increment-financing district for the project but they forged ahead Monday, agreeing unanimously to annex the proposed acreage into Hoffman Estates.

Village officials also approved a late addition to the proposal meant to address concerns raised by District 220 and nearby Algonquin-based School District 300, including a 5.5-acre parcel that would be developed into a new school building.

Martin McLaughlin, board president of Barrington Hills, called the addition of the 5.5 acres for a new school “a low-ball offer.”

“And the housing development does not fit with the character of area of routes 52 and 72, especially with high-rise buildings going in,” he said.

To read the full article in the Barrington Courier-Review, click here.

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 Audio recordings from the April 24, 2017 meeting of the Board of Trustees have been posted. To access the menu of recordings edited by agenda item, click here.

The meeting began with service awards being presented to outgoing Trustees Fritz Gohl and Mike Harrington.  President Martin McLaughlin very graciously acknowledged the service and work provided to the village by these two individuals over their terms.  His words were particularly diplomatic towards the latter, considering the highly critical vitriolic speeches that Harrington routinely directed towards McLaughlin. Those diplomatic remarks by the President, as well as Gohl’s unnecessary parting shot of  “don’t F* up the five acre zoning”, can be heard here.

Next, one speaker, Kristina Anderson, made public comment on two issues, and due to the very inflammatory and accusatory nature of her remarks, we have transcribed them  in full at the end of this article.  You can listen for yourself here.  Apparently, in the eyes of the equestrian extremists loyal to the former village president, campaigning for the 2019 Election has already begun, continuing on the false narrative presented by the newly elected Your Barrington Hills trustees — Paula Jacobsen and Bob Zubak — during this year’s election cycle.

During the Finance portion of the meeting, the hiring of a part-time permit coordinator for the Building Department was discussed.  Village resident Nikki Panos was hired last month after interviewing with the Personnel Committee, Village Administrator Bob Kosin, Village Clerk Anna Paul and Ken Garrett from the Building Department.

It was explained that the Village’s Building Code Enforcement Officer Ken Garrett had been devoting 30-40% of his time in the office, mainly performing filing duties, and was being compensated at the rate of $100/hour.  The new permit coordinator is being paid $20/hour, creating a substantial cost savings to the village, and allowing Garrett to spend more productive time in the field. It was further explained that having a resident as coordinator is beneficial, as there is less of a learning curve for an employee who already understands the complexities of the village and has a better familiarity of obscure village roads, etc.

In the Public Safety portion of the meeting, Trustee Brian Cecola complimented the Police Department on its successful use of the Village’s reverse-911 alerts in helping inform residents about a missing fifth-grade girl earlier in the month.

Chief Semelsberger addressed the aforementioned public commenter’s complaints regarding the supposed discontinuation of the non-emergency police phone number.  He explained that Monday-Friday, from 8 AM-4PM, the police non-emergency number, (847) 551-3006, is the same as it has always been, and then after-hours, the QuadCom non-emergency number should be used.  Either way, dispatchers answer the phone, press a button on their console and are able to direct police to the person’s home.  If (847) 551-3006 is called after-hours, the caller receives a message giving them the QuadCom non-emergency number which is (847) 428-8784. The Chief expressed satisfaction with the operation of the system and stressed that a non-emergency number is always available to residents, in addition to 911 services. Readers can listen to the full discussion by clicking this link.

During the Planning section, President McLaughlin refuted the commenter’s allegations about the lack of Barrington Hills’ leadership being involved in the ongoing Hoffman Estates development battle.  He described that he has personally attended three public meetings.  Trustee Michelle Maison has, in fact, also attended and presented at a public meeting, as well as  participated in a pre-meeting with representatives of School District 220 and District 300 to plan joint strategies to address the Hoffman Estates annexation/development of the Iatarola property at the northwest corner of Routes 72 & 59. Adminstrator Kosin has also participated in a number of meetings.  McLaughlin described the current attempt to amend the existing pre-annexation agreement dating back to 2004, back when the property was originally de-annexed from Barrington Hills.  He complimented Ms. Anderson’s involvement in advocating for a group of citizens, but was very clear that her perception of lack of involvement on the part of the village board or administration is completely unfounded and she should know better because she personally was in attendance at meetings where McLaughlin, Maison and Kosin all presented remarks.  In addition, he reminded the public that many meetings and discussions have taken place in between public meetings with school district representatives and various attorneys from the villages involved.

McLaughlin further expressed that Barrington Hills is operating from a deficit position, legally speaking, as our village does not have a boundary agreement with Hoffman Estates, unlike South Barrington which does. However, due to our good relationship with South Barrington, the village has been permitted to sit in on meetings with them and to provide input representing our village’s interests.  (It should be noted that Barrington Hills approached Hoffman Estates in 2013 and 2014 concerning a border agreement, but Hoffman Estates expressed no interest in such an agreement.)  McLaughlin also described the united front that D220 & D300 are presenting to the proposed development.

McLaughlin also addressed Anderson’s allegation that members of the board may have personal interests in the Iatorola development, stating ” I have no idea where that’s coming from”. He further described his good working relationship and open lines of communication with Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod.  And the board members all scoffed at the insinuation that anyone was in favor of eliminating five acre zoning.

The Planning portion of the meeting can be heard here in its entirety.  Unfortunately, Ms. Anderson had exited the meeting after making her remarks, so she heard none of the corrections to her unfounded inflammatory comments.

PUBLIC COMMENT

Good evening, I’m Kristina Anderson. I live at ### here in the beautiful village of Barrington Hills. Before I get to the main reason why I’m here tonight, I want…seeing the Chief, I just wanted to comment, maybe someone has already said this to you guys the residents really miss the police non-emergency number. We loved it. When something would happen that we didn’t deem a life and death emergency but, you know, they’re back on Healy setting off fireworks or things like this, the ability to call our own police and report it and have them come out and deal with it was fantastic. So I don’t know how much of a cost savings was achieved by getting rid of it, but if it’s a buck or five bucks a household I think most residents would pay it. So I would urge you to reconsider that. If there is a logistical problem to not having it that I don’t know, forgive me. But if there is a way to put it back in, residents loved it and residents miss it. We love our police they do an awesome job. We don’t want to put them to more work than we should, but when they are available to come out on the non-emergency calls, they deal with um problems before the problem gets worse. And that’s really nice.

But why I’m really here tonight, is in fact, to talk about the five acre zoning and to see if am some of the trustees and/or President McLaughlin can take up the cause of the Hoffman Estates development. As you know the continued zoning meeting over there is tonight. I don’t know if any of you are going or you’re sending your village lawyer, which I would strongly urge you to do. Because South Barrington is sending their village lawyers. They sent them last week …their mayor, their trustees, their village engineer, and is really stepping up. And I’d really like to see Barrington Hills step up in the same way and fight for our residents on the issue of five acre zoning, which becomes threatened the more dense developments we have on our borders. As we build more and more dense developments on the borders, super dense, crazy dense like this one which even Hoffman Estates says is unprecedented in its density, we then create the opportunity for people to feather in from the village, have 2 ac… you know, a quarter acre, a half an acre, one acre, two acres, and we shrink the village down into its central little nugget as we do that.

And we know that the Hills & Dales Duchossois property, the Cressey property, are zoned already by McHenry County for less than five acres. Some of you guys may want that, some of you guys might be realtors, or real estate owners or developers. Some of you guys may have a personal connection to Mr. Iatarola or his family, or those investments. We know there are people in the community that do and want to protect their investments and I would urge you guys to disclose that – if you have interests in the Iatarola property or have interests in seeing the village go to less than five-acre zoning. But I would also urge you guys, if you’re committed to five acre zoning, to tell us all that you are committed to five acre zoning, say that publicly, that you’re going to fight for it, and then really step up and fight for it because this is the way to keep the village the way that it is. And I don’t think any of you want Barrington Hills to be South Barrington or Hoffman Estates. Those are great communities but those aren’t the ones we moved to.

So, I speak for many, many people who couldn’t be here tonight and who are members of the group is opposing the Hoffman development. We are concerned about that and the impact upon the village, the traffic, the schools, all of it. Public safety, um, the truth is that no one knows what that development is going to look like and no one knows if it’s going to be fancy or low-income housing. We don’t know, we really don’t know and so its really important that we fight for the village and its safety and security, and to make sure, as we move forward, the Oak Knoll property that’s fifty acres, the Duchossois property if that eventually goes, we don’t want to see those become high density too and this sets a dangerous precedent. So, I speak for the residents in urging you guys to continue to fight this.

 

 

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unnamed Hoffman Estates trustees on Monday voted to continue their discussion of a controversial annexation and development agreement for 145 acres previously disconnected from Barrington Hills until next Monday, April 24.

Several village board members, including Mayor Bill McLeod, cited the speed at which they and affected members of the community had had to absorb a massive amount of detailed information over the weekend.

Though the vote was unanimous, Trustee Gary Pilafas said he didn’t believe the delay would benefit him.

He added that it was his duty to get through the 390 pages of documents over the holiday weekend, and that he recognized the developer’s plans as consistent with previous approvals granted to other parts of the same site at routes 59 and 72 back in 2004.

The link to the complete Daily Herald article is here.

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