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Archive for the ‘Land Disconnection’ Category

VBH__LogoThe Village Board will meet on Monday August 28th at 6:30 PM. The agenda can be viewed here and the e-Packet can be found here.

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Fifty acres of sunflowers bloomed in northwest Barrington Hills this week to create a unique carpet of bright yellow.

But in addition to providing a vibrant visual along the village’s country lanes, these sun-worshipping plants play a practical role in the conversion of the nearly 700-acre Barrington Hills Farm to purely organic. Among the criteria for such certification is the soil must be found to be chemical-free — and sunflowers are among the species that can help expedite that process, experts say.

J.R. Davis and his wife, Dawn, took control of the farm four years ago and have spent the last three working to purify the soil. They see themselves carrying on the vision of the late Barbara MacArthur, who with her late husband, Alex, ran the Strathmore Organic Farm at the same location on Spring Creek Road in McHenry County. Barbara MacArthur, who died last year, was a passionate pioneer of organic farming, decades ahead of its rising popularity today.

To read the full Daily Herald article, click here.

Editor’s note:  The Daily Herald incorrectly identifies the fields as being in the McHenry County section of Barrington Hills.  Readers will recall that most of the property controlled by the Farm’s trust was de-annexed from the Village during the last decade, and these fields are actually located in unincorporated McHenry County.

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audio_tape_revox_pr99-203Audio recordings from the July 24th, 2017 meeting of the Board of Trustees have been posted. To access the menu of recordings edited by agenda item, click here.

Most of the brief meeting consisted of routine business, but, again, property owned by Barrington Hills Farm LLC (BHFarm) provided the most interesting fodder for discussion.  As we mentioned previously, the owner(s) of the unoccupied property at 2400 Spring Creek Road had been cited for demolition of a residence without a building permit and for removal of two posted Stop Work Order signs. Additionally, many trees and much vegetation had been removed without a permit required under the village’s Heritage Tree Ordinance.

Trustee Colleen Konicek asked Administrator Bob Kosin for an update on the situation.  The issue of the removal of the Stop Work Order signs is currently in the hands of the village prosecutor, and the courts will be left to determine if the violation did take place, and what fines, if any, should be imposed.  Kosin went on to state that the necessary demolition permit had now been obtained, albeit AFTER the fact, and that according to the demolition contractor, none of the work to remove the debris from the demolition of the 2900 sq. ft. home had required an overweight permit.  Trustee Brian Cecola strongly questioned the notion that a residence of that size could be taken down without the need for an overweight permit.  Konicek pressed the issue further, asking Kosin what evidence had been provided that an overweight permit had not been required? Kosin was forced to admit there was no evidence, just the word of the contractor. We wonder how many other residents would be afforded this same benefit of the doubt.

On the issue of the trees that had been removed, Kosin stated that the Village’s tree contractor had been sent out, and he determined that no heritage trees had been lost or jeopardized on the site, again AFTER the fact, and that the property owner had been appropriately billed (and paid ) for the arborist’s inspection fee. Kosin expressed supreme confidence in the arborist’s psychic abilities to determine the species of trees which had been removed, without ever having seen them.  We don’t quite understand how this was possible — perhaps he conducted a DNA analysis of the sawdust residue?

President Martin McLaughlin expressed concern about the objectivity of the arborist, Chuck Stewart, who had performed the study of the property, because Stewart rents office space in a building owned by one of the members of the board of Barrington Hills Farm. Trustee Michelle Maison was also troubled by this perceived conflict of interest and inquired if another independent tree analysis should be conducted.

McLaughlin then brought up the issue of the deannexation request (dated July 17, 2017) for 2400 Spring Creek Road. Back in the fall, the trust controlling BHFarm had expressed interest in annexing ALL of the former Duda property back into the Village during a friendly 2 1/2 hour staff meeting during which the village outlined two timelines to complete the annexation petition process. He found it odd that first they wanted to annex into the village, and now they want to annex out of the village. He also reminded the new Board members about the trust’s previous request for an easement for its proposed HARPS facility (which still has not broken ground).  The trust had wanted an easement, requested it, constructed the legal documents for it, and when the Board agreed to it, the trust wanted the easement out.

McLaughlin described how the Village has gone out of its way to say “yes” numerous times to requests by BHFarm, and explained how the Village has tried to work with the individuals representing BHFarm, only to have the trust change their minds about things that they themselves had asked for.  He likened dealing with the BHFarm trust as doing the Hokey Pokey — they want the easement in, they want the easement out, they want to annex in, they want to annex out. All of it, he said, amounted to much silliness, and in our opinion, wasting of board and staff time, not to mention taxpayer dollars.

minion-hokeypokey-o

Doing the annexation hokey pokey

Trustee Paula Jacobsen wondered why the village couldn’t have employed a warmer and fuzzier process to inform the property owner of their violation of the cease and desist order, perhaps by placing a personal phone call. Jacobsen was either playing dumb in thinking that property owners’ phone numbers are listed on property deeds, or perhaps she was pandering to BHFarm’s board which is headed by a prominent donor to her recent trustee campaign. Her point seemed to be that the property owner was not being treated in a neighborly manner, despite the fact that the only publicly available contact information is an street address in Chicago. Never did she place any onus on the property owner who apparently assumed that it was okay to knock down a house without consulting the municipal authorities in advance. Maybe she has never heard of the expression “ignorance of the law is no excuse”?

And, if the village had gone to extreme lengths to track down a telephone number in this particular instance, wouldn’t that create a dangerous precedent for the village’s future contacts with other property owners?  AND, does Jacobsen really believe that the contractor(s) who removed the trees and demolished the residence didn’t inform their employer of the Stop Work Order?

Those conversations can be heard here.

Later in the meeting, during discussion of the disconnection petition itself, Village Attorney Mary Dickson described the legal requirements for disconnection and confirmed that the subject property meets all of them. However, the village cannot act on such a petition sooner than 30 days after receiving it, and, as a result, the attorney will prepare an ordinance for possible action at the next Board meeting in August.

Dickson cautioned that any penalties regarding the cease and desist order violation pending in court should be resolved and that any other monies due to the Village should be paid PRIOR to the Board of Trustees taking final action on BHFarm’s petition.

Jacobsen continued to puzzle over the reason for the disconnection request into unincorporated McHenry County, and asked if the petitioner would be making a presentation to the Board explaining the reasons for the disconnection.  Dickson explained that no such presentation is legally necessary.  (We suggest that Jacobsen pick up the telephone a place a neighborly phone call if she wants to quench her curiosity.) Attorney Dickson opined that maybe developmental rights are the reason, and perhaps the best prospects for the owner’s desired development of the property may lie with the county rather than the village. We’d say that Ms. Dickson hit the nail on the head with that assessment.

The disconnection discussion can be heard 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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PlumFarmAerial Hoffman Estates village board members Monday unanimously approved a development agreement and rezoning for 185 acres at the northwest corner of routes 59 and 72 for the often controversial Plum Farms residential and commercial subdivision.

The biggest revision to the agreement before its approval was the village’s requirement of a minimum 5.5-acre school site donation.

Barrington Unit District 220 board President Brian Battle said his district and Community Unit District 300 both believe that unless that site happened to be next to a park, it likely wouldn’t be enough.

Nevertheless, he saw it as an improvement.

“For the village to dictate the minimum size is better than nothing,” Battle said. “We’d like to see that number boosted a little. … We’re still concerned about the density (of the development) and what it does to our taxpayers.”

Battle said the developers told him they would try to address the school districts’ concerns in their final plans. But he told village board members the two districts would wish to be involved in the review of those plans as early as possible.

To read the full article in the Daily Herald, 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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