Archive for the ‘Going green’ Category

Huntley School District 158 is expecting to flip the switch on a series of solar panels estimated to save the district $4.2 million in energy costs over the next 20 years by the end of March.

Last year, the district partnered with ForeFront Power, which agreed to design, permit, finance, install and maintain the solar energy project across all three of the district’s campuses. The renewable energy company had estimated that the installation of solar panels would offset 12.3 million pounds of carbon emissions in the first year.

Read more from the Northwest Herald here.

Editorial note: We applaud District 158’s forward thinking initiative and hope Barrington District 220 taxpayers take note before approving the March 17 referendum.

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Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 7.28.02 PM Barrington Hills’ Sanfilippo estate is a popular venue for elegant, charitable fundraising parties, but Tuesday it was all about scientific research in the property’s spring-fed creek by Shedd Aquarium experts and a local nonprofit conservation group.

In collaboration with the Sanfilippo family, the Barrington Area Conservation Trust organized the monitoring of Spring Creek to sample fish populations to determine abundance, density and species composition. Conservation trust Executive Director Lisa Woolford said the organization is helping the family legally protect a “big stretch” of its land from development in perpetuity.

“So, part of what we do is we identify as many plant, insect and animal species as we can as part of the project,” Woolford said during a break from slogging through Spring Creek in waders. “And we put it into a nice, big, hefty report so we know exactly what it is we’re preserving.”

To read the full text of the Daily Herald feature, click here.

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Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 2.49.11 PMOver the past year, local media coverage has touched on the topic of backyard poultry in the Barrington area.  From complaints about plans for a large chicken farm in unincorporated Lake County to Tower Lakes’s recent enforcement actions to eliminate backyard poultry, nearby communities are struggling to regulate this newly popular trend.

As was recently reported in the Daily Herald , owners of a property in unincorporated Lake County (zoned agricultural) had applied for a permit to construct several buildings to house a large chicken egg production operation.  Residents living in neighboring lots in North Barrington (which surround the parcel) complained about odor and noise from the existing chickens, and worried about the increased nuisance that would be created if hundreds or thousands of chickens would be permitted.  Eventually, North Barrington forcibly annexed the land, with the goal of not eliminating the chicken farm, but to allow the village to exert more stringent controls on the operation.  In terms of backyard chickens for personal enjoyment, North Barrington allows 6 hens on residential lots of 40,000 sq. ft. or greater.

Meanwhile in Tower Lakes, cease and desist orders have been issued to residents owning backyard chickens and ducks.  Tower Lakes has taken the position that backyard poultry is not a permitted use according to their village code, and their Board of Trustees has taken the position that they do not wish to allow poultry ownership, even for personal use.

In marked contrast to these fellow BACOG neighbors, Barrington Hills has a long practice of not just allowing the ownership of poultry and other livestock for non-commercial purposes on residential properties, but actively promoting the tradition of the gentleman (or gentlewoman) farmer.  Both the Village Code and the Comprehensive Plan recognize the history of agricultural pursuits within our borders, and residential properties throughout the village are populated not just with poultry, but horses, alpacas, honeybees, donkeys, and goats. On those properties which zoned for agricultural use, ownership of most types of livestock is allowed.

These property freedoms certainly differentiate Barrington Hills from nearly all other suburban Chicago communities, but they also allow residents to pursue their interests and hobbies in a way that is least impactful to their neighbors due to our large 5-acre parcels.  In the case of backyard poultry in particular, residents don’t just benefit from fresh eggs daily, but these birds also provide ample fertilizer for gardens and natural pest control.  Reading the daily headlines, you can’t help but note the increasing problems with E. coli and Salmonella contamination in commercially produced eggs, fruits and vegetables.

And, in a time when even the City of Chicago allows backyard chickens, it is disappointing that some of our fellow BACOG neighbors do not share our village’s enthusiasm for the farm-to-table movement.  As always, the Observer hopes that hobby farming pursuits will be undertaken in a manner that is fully respectful and least disruptive to adjacent properties.

We are heartened that our current administration is supportive and encouraging of local agriculture. This type of property freedom is what makes Barrington Hills distinctive in the region and gives our children a unique opportunity to witnesses the wonders of nature first-hand.


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The Village Website recently announced the following:

April 22nd is Village Wide Clean Up Day!

Grab your friends, neighbors, association members and club-mates to enjoy the Spring day cleaning up the Village roadsides.

For Earth Day we need help cleaning up our roadsides. Come pick up safety vest and garbage bags at Village Hall M-F 9am to 5pm call first so we can have everything ready 847.551.3000.


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barbara-macarthurConservationist and organic farming pioneer Barbara MacArthur died on September 12, 2016 at the age of 82. Barbara was a pioneer who took positions on issues that now seem common and ordinary such as the importance of organic farming, wetland and groundwater preservation, and bird migration.

Barbara MacArthur, along with her late husband Alexander, owned and managed the 430 acre Strathmore Organic Farms (now known as Barrington Hills Farm) in Barrington Hills, which produced organic beef, wheat and soybeans for more than three decades. In 1989 Barbara founded the Land of Lincoln Organic Growers Association, which lobbied the state legislature to introduce a “certified organic” label on produce grown without chemicals.

After the historic opening of China in the early 1970s by President Nixon, Strathmore Organic Farms was chosen by President Nixon to host one of the first cultural exchange venues where the Chinese could visit a modern, progressive American Farm.

Barbara was intimately involved in the day-to-day operations of the farm and could be found walking among the herd of cattle, examining the fence line, and giving tours of the full working cattle farm. She was always keenly aware of the delicate balance between the operational needs of the farm and the fragile environment where it was located.

The slogan painted on a Strathmore Farms pickup truck summed up Barbara’s philosophy: “Where Nature is Always Boss.” “I hate the title boss,” she was known to say. Not only because she always chipped in and worked with her employees, but the idea of trying to artificially control nature was even less appealing.

For that reason Barbara maintained the woods on Strathmore Farm. The woods have been identified as an old growth forest, subject to a single cutting before the turn of the last century. The tree species are diverse and sustained by the variety of soils and ground water preserved in harmony with the forest canopy.

Her love of farming was never about the bottom line. She had the heart of the farmer who loved to work the land. Barbara, and her husband Alexander for whom the Village of Barrington Hills Board Room is named, spent decades fiercely defending Barrington Hills’ tradition of open spaces.

Barbara was preceded in death by her husband Alexander who died in 1993. Survivors include son Lawrence “Lad” MacArthur of Barrington Hills, Illinois and daughters Jennifer Wilson of Spokane, Washington and Alexa MacArthur of Mercer Island, Washington.

Editor’s note: Services for Mrs. MacArthur took place on September 16th.  Those wishing to express their condolences may still do so by signing a guestbook established for her by clicking here.

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comedBy the end of the year, Barrington Hills will have energy-efficient streets lights installed throughout the village.

Fifteen such lights, known as LEDs or light-emitting diodes, will better illuminate well-traveled intersections, such as County Line Road and Haeger’s Bend and Old Bartlett Road and Route 59, said Robert Kosin, director of administration in Barrington Hills.

Read more here.

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Recycling-Image1Lake County residents will have until the end of the year to drop off unwanted electronics at one of five permanent sites, as several communities led by Grayslake pitched in to fund the program.

The Solid Waste Agency of Lake County Board on Thursday reversed a decision reached at an emergency meeting in March to close the five sites as of May 1 because of a lack of funding. Since then, about 16 communities led by $20,000 pledged by Grayslake raised the $62,000 to maintain operations in hope of finding a solution in the interim.

Read more here.

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