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Archive for the ‘Commercial Horse Boarding’ Category

The Forest Preserve District of Cook County cannot evict the former owners of Horizon Farm in Barrington Hills, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday, citing an appeals court order from August that essentially sent the sale of the 400-acre equestrian estate back to the legal drawing board.

The land, which features four miles of trails for hikers, bicyclists and horse riders, has occasionally been open to the public since 2015.

The August order voided the sale of the property, which leaves the district with no right to evict the former owners, the court ruled Tuesday.

Richard Kirk Cannon and Meryl Squires Cannon argue the county unlawfully acquired the property through a $14.5 million foreclosure sale with BMO Harris Bank back in 2013.

The court’s latest opinion reverses a previous circuit court decision to award the district possession of the property and puts the eviction issue on hold pending resolution of the foreclosure case.

“We hold that the reversal of the foreclosure judgment voids the sale of the property to the FPD,” the opinion says. “If the circuit court, following trial, again awards a foreclosure judgment in favor of FPD, the court will need to hold a new foreclosure sale, and the purchaser at that sale will acquire the property owner’s rights and duties under the lease with Royalty Farms (if Royalty Farms has a valid lease).”

The full text of the Daily Herald article can be accessed here.

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 “NO TRESPASSING” signs have been posted at the entrances to the largest new forest preserve in Cook County.

“Forest Preserve of Cook County does not have possession & has no right to enter this property or permit others to do so,” the warning reads on a locked gate at Horizon Farm, a rolling, 400-acre horse farm in Barrington Hills.

The notice was posted by Rich and Meryl Squires Cannon, who assert they are the true owners of the land after they won an Illinois Appellate Court decision in a long-standing legal battle over the prized property.

The court ruled that there is a legitimate question as to whether the Cannons were fraudulently pressured into the mortgage that led to foreclosure of their property. As a result, a lower court must reconsider whether the Forest Preserve District can foreclose on the property.

The shutdown is the latest development in a yearslong feud between the couple and the district. It could be years more before the dispute and the fate of the land is resolved.

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

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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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Recently the Observer published links to some of the websites for candidates in the upcoming April 4th village election. In reviewing those sites, we noticed some glaring omissions and dare we say it – “lack of transparency” about their community involvement and their positions on some of the most important village issues.

Let’s begin with a look at Elaine Ramesh, who is seeking “re-election” as Village Trustee, although she has not been on the Board since 2013. Her choice of words already comes across as a bit deceptive.560_brookdaleopen2

  • EXPERIENCED LEADERSHIP/EXCELLENT RESULTS?  Ramesh’s Facebook page displays her credentials and governmental involvement, obviously focusing on her time as trustee four years ago. Despite the list of “excellent results” and “eye on the bottom line” that she includes, readers will recall that she routinely disregarded input from residents and tended to view issues only from her personal point of view. She rarely spoke up in discussions during Board of Trustees meetings, and members of the Board and audience were routinely surprised by many of her votes, given that she seldom gave any rationale for her decisions. Ramesh’s lack of explanations did a disservice to both her constituents who deserve accountability from their public servants, and to her fellow board members, whose opinions on various topics might have been swayed if she had offered her personal insights publically. It is because of this reticence that some have labeled her “the Silent One”.
  • “I’M NOT RUNNING ON ANY PLATFORM”  “Basically, I’m not running on any platform, but just offering myself as a volunteer to serve my community,” Ramesh said of her current campaign. (Barrington Courier Review March 8, 2017)  As we have previously stated in our article Ramesh repeat? We hope not, Elaine seems to have intentionally omitted mention of her extensive involvement in the equestrian community, instead focusing on her membership and support of conservation groups. It’s hard to understand why someone who clearly loves horses and the equestrian way of life would omit ANY mention of horses in her campaign. On her campaign site, she shows off her adorable cat and dog, and is pictured jogging in the village or volunteering with the Girl Scouts. But there are no horses, ANYWHERE? Strange. We would call that a lack of transparency.elaine  But Elaine is not just a competitor in hunter/jumper events with her own horses, and isn’t just a member of numerous equestrian organizations (Riding Club of Barrington Hills, American Horse Council, Equine Land Conservation Resource and the United States Equestrian Federation). To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with owning horses and enjoying them – it is a wonderful part of the fabric of our Village. But Elaine Ramesh has held, and currently holds, significant leadership roles in several high profile equestrian groups with very narrow agendas which she is not being forthcoming about. Here’s just a partial list:
    • President of the Riding Club of Barrington Hills, 2015
    • Founder & Chair of the Equestrian Coalition of McHenry County, a regional organization to unite various local equestrian groups to pursue common goals regarding equestrian land use.
    • Past Board Member Illinois Equine Research and Promotion Board, whose mission statement is is to enhance the Illinois equine industry through self-funded programs, projects and activities. http://www.iepb.org/index.html
    • Second Vice President of the Horseman’s Council of Illinois http://www.horsemenscouncil.org/leadership  HorsesFirst_HCIHere’s a graphic from the Spring 2016 issue of the Horsemen’s Council of Illinois Courier newsletter that should give you an idea of their mission statement.
  • COMMUNITY ACTIVISM  We’d also like to remind readers of Elaine’s talk presented to the McHenry County Horse Club in March 2012, entitled “Community Activism — Equestrian Style.”
  • “DEFENDED ESTATE CATEGORY OF ZONING IN McHENRY COUNTY ” We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge Ramesh’s participation in advocating for the inclusion of the Estate Category of Zoning in the McHenry County Unified Development Ordinance and for opposing “conservation design” as the county’s only model for future subdivision development. Those are important elements to help preserve the natural ecology of the county and to help safeguard against dense small-lot housing as being the norm for the county.  But Elaine herself is remiss when she does not also mention her strong defense of the equestrian heritage of McHenry County and her desire for promotion of the equine industry in the county in the same document.

 The Village’s 2010 press release on the topic included Ramesh’s entire submission to McHenry  County, which can be seen here.  We would like readers to pay particular attention to how she signed her remarks.

RameshEquestrienne

…Equestrienne…

Readers will have to judge for themselves if Ramesh is, in her own words “not running on any platform”, only seeking “to help protect our healthy outdoor lifestyle, pastoral viewscapes and heritage”.  Or is she an equestrian activist with a hidden agenda that she doesn’t want voters to know about? We think the facts speak for themselves.

(In case you’re curious to see Elaine’s campaign platform from 2009 when she first ran for trustee, click here to see the PDF.  At that time she said that “she works to help preserve the residents [sic] rights to participate in all equestrian activities”.

 

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Colleen Konicek-Hannigan

After experiencing some political turbulence in the transition to a new administration in 2013, government in the village of Barrington Hills is beginning to settle back into a sense of stability, if not yet absolute calm. While the village has put a decades-old lawsuit behind it, reduced expenses and revised some of its communications systems, some residents remain concerned that more needs to be done — and that some of the things that have been done have moved the village in the wrong direction.

In that climate, seven people have filed to seek three available positions on the village board.  Readers can see the entire Daily Herald article by clicking on this link.

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