Archive for the ‘Land Use’ Category

Tonight’s Board of Trustees meeting will be the first official meeting for the village’s new engineering firm, Trotter & Associates.  We look forward to seeing their approach to municipal engineering and we hope that taxpayers will benefit from lowered costs and fresh ideas.

GHAWhile researching future content for the Observer, we stumbled across some interesting correspondence regarding Barrington Hills Farm (BHFW LLC) and our village’s former engineering firm, Gewalt Hamilton.  What we found is shocking, but it certainly makes the Village’s decision last year to change engineering companies very wise indeed.

According to documents found on McHenry County’s website, in December 2015, BHFW’s Chairman J. R. Davis was applying to McHenry County to convert part of an existing wetland on the property into a recreational pond.  As a result, some mitigation of the wetlands was necessary.  The specifics of the mitigation and request for credits from the Wetland Restoration Fund are not important.

What is important is the engineering firm that BHFW had hired to create their Wetland Mitigation Plan was Gewalt Hamilton.  And not just Gewalt Hamilton, but Dan Strahan himself , who was Barrington Hills’ Village Engineer at the time, was personally involved in the project.

Strahan is cc’ed on the Gewalt Hamilton letter to McHenry County on behalf of BHFW and Strahan’s signature even appears with Davis’ signature on the Wetland Restoration Fund application as the Design Engineer.



To be clear, this was a project undertaken by a private property owner in unincorporated McHenry County immediately adjacent to the Village, and Strahan and Gewalt Hamilton were hired by that individual.  All at the same time when Strahan and Gewalt Hamilton were also employed by the Village of Barrington Hills.

We find it shocking that Gewalt Hamilton and Dan Strahan did not decline employment by BHFW & Mr. Davis in 2015, seeing as the firm had been serving Barrington Hills for decades.  Gewalt Hamilton & Strahan were well aware of the history of the Davis property, and in all likelihood would be called up by the Village to consult on the property in the future. It would be bad enough for any engineer employed by Gewalt Hamilton to have taken this job, let alone Dan Strahan.

Not surprisingly, Strahan indeed did end up personally involved in discussions on behalf of the Village regarding new driveways and dedicated easements and right-of ways for the proposed HARPS facility on BHFW property in 2016 & 2017.  It certainly gives us pause to wonder about the quality of the service the village and taxpayers received on that assignment.

Did Strahan and Gewalt ever divulge to the Village of Barrington Hills that they had been previously employed by Davis?

How could Strahan and Gewalt maintain any impartiality when they had been paid by both the Village and Davis?

Are there other projects that Gewalt has worked on for Davis and BHFW?

Did Strahan and Gewalt ever divulge this conflict of interest while they were applying for retention as the Village’s engineering firm?

Right now, we have more questions than answers.  We’ll leave it to our readers to draw their own conclusions.  We think the documents speak for themselves.

Click on the following links to  view the complete PDFs of the documents BHFarm_Gewalt_Wetland_1 and BHFarm_Gewalt_Wetland_2.

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As the Observer looks back at another year gone by, we thought we’d take the opportunity to point out some people and issues that made an impact in Barrington Hills news, whether it was good, bad or just plain phony.

ThumbsUpPresident Martin McLaughlin and Trustee Colleen Konicek Hannigan were re-elected for their second terms in April 2017. We applaud their excellent service to our village and appreciate the personal sacrifices that they have made to keep Barrington Hills the special place that it is . conicek-300x200@2x

ThumbsUpMcLaughlin continued his astounding record of financial stewardship. Having analyzed every aspect of village spending for the last five years, Marty has surgically excised waste and improved efficiencies in the village budget. Since 2013, the tax levy has been reduced by 20%, 20% more road miles have been paved per year, and cash reserves have increased by 40%.McLaughlin-300x200@2x

ThumbsUpSince McLaughlin took office, every administrative employee at Village Hall has changed. In prior years, Barrington Hills hired a new Village Attorney and Treasurer, and, due to the retirement of Chief Michael Murphy, Rich Semelsberger became Police Chief. In 2017 alone, a new Building Permit Coordinator, new Engineering Firm, Clerk and a new acting Director of Administration were hired.

ThumbsDownTwo candidates from the “Your Barrington Hills” slate narrowly won election to the Board of Trustees. Paula Jacobsen and Robert Zubak ran on a platform of unfounded and disproven complaints about village governance, and promised to do more to: 1) protect open spaces and property rights, 2)produce better results for our tax dollars, 3) restore public safety and security which they alleged had been sacrificed, and 4) improve transparency and information distribution. More than eight months have passed since the duo were sworn into office, and nary a mention has been made of any of these so-called initiatives. And, not surprisingly, neither trustee has presented their new ideas for those better results for our tax dollars.  This confirms our belief that their sole reason for running for office was to attempt to change the current commercial horse boarding protections.

Paula Jacobsen Robert ZubakJacobsen and Zubak also made campaign promises to vigorously challenge the Plum Farm land development in Hoffman Estates, falsely accusing McLaughlin and Konicek of doing nothing to oppose the project. Yet Jacobsen and Zubak have not even aired the Plum Farm issue during a board meeting.

ThumbsUp For the first time in many years, the Riding Club of Barrington Hills did not officially involve itself in the village election. Despite pressure from some of the Club’s most strident and vocal members, club president Jane Clement declined to make an political endorsement to the RCBH membership. We commend her for that. Politics and non-profit social clubs shouldn’t mix.

ThumbsUpThe 2017 hiring of Nikki Panos as part-time Building Department permit coordinator was a breath of fresh air. Panos brought competence and professionalism to the office whose previous occupant was frequently brusque and unkempt. We congratulate Panos’ promotion to Village Clerk and are confident that residents will be well served by her.


Nikki Panos, Village Clerk

ThumbsUpThe wave of change at Village Hall continued with the engagement of a new engineering firm – Trotter & Associates – replacing Gewalt Hamilton. Gewalt Hamilton had served the Village for decades, but without review or evaluation. We look forward to the fresh perspective that Trotter will provide and hope that residents will receive better service at a lower cost.

ThumbsDownIn the spring of 2017, the owners of Barrington Hills Farm (whose 600+acres is now located almost entirely OUTSIDE the borders of Barrington Hills) flouted village laws when they demolished a home, engaged in major earth-moving, cut down numerous trees without adhering to the Tree Preservation Ordinance, and failed to obtain proper permits prior to engaging in the project. When the activity on this property (formerly owned by the recently deceased Barbara MacArthur) was finally discovered by the Village, two stop work order signs were posted by the village inspector, and both signs mysteriously disappeared. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done, and all the village could do was collect the permit fees and penalties months after the fact.

ThumbsDownApparently feeling slighted by having to follow the Village Code as all other residents and property owners have to do, the Barrington Hills Farm L.L.C. ownership demanded disconnection of the property in question into unincorporated McHenry County, a request that was granted by the Board of Trustees.

jokerSpeaking of Barrington Hills Farm, whatever happened to the HARPS facility they had planned near the intersection of Church and Chapel Roads, immediately adjacent to Barrington Hills homes on Alderberry Lane? It’s been over two years since representatives of the L.L.C. presented plans to both the village and McHenry County, and after all the hullabaloo they created over necessary curb cuts for the proposed driveway entrances and the nonsense over granting easements and rights-of-way, the corner remains undeveloped. There is no new information about the facility on the HARPS website either. Strange, isn’t it?


Trustee Brian Cecola continued his excellent management of the Village’s Roads and Bridges.  He is completely engaged in his position, interfacing well with residents, village engineering firm and his fellow board members.  Miles of road paving per year are up, and Cecola is looking to increase that benchmark in the coming years.  Congratulations for a job well done!


Trustee Brian Cecola

ThumbsUp 2017 brought the long-overdue retirement of Village Administrator Bob Kosin. His 35 years of service to Barrington Hills is much appreciated, but Kosin had long since ceased serving the residents efficiently, and was increasingly difficult to work with. His convoluted explanations and arcane knowledge of village history may have been interesting in the past, but residents and commission members no longer found his digressions amusing or beneficial.


We are hopeful about the appointment of Anna Paul (previously Village Clerk) as acting Administrator. While the search for a permanent administrator may continue, the Observer has been pleased to watch Paul’s progression through the ranks of village administration. She offers a familiarity with VBH operations that no outside candidate with years of lead experience can match. Her organization and communication skills are outstanding, and despite her relative youth, she is steady, impartial and poised in any situation. We wish Anna Paul well in her new assignment.

jokerThe Observer usually doesn’t comment on state or federal races, but we feel compelled to comment on the unlikely candidacy of resident Kelly Mazeski in the Democratic Congressional primary in IL-06. Mazeski, whose recent civic resume consists of only of membership on the village’s Plan Commission, previously ran unsuccessfully for Village Board in 2013, and unsuccessfully for State Senate in 2016. Her campaign’s PR machine has been busy at work, trying to repackage her from the “financial expert” she called herself in 2016, now calling herself “mom/scientist/cancer survivor”. What’s next – butcher/baker/candlestick maker?

jokerSpeaking of Kelly Mazeski, it seems as though she’s been grasping for endorsements, trotting out support from “environmentalists” Karen Rosene and Karen Selman, as well as a big thumbs up from former trustee Mikey Harrington. Now that’s a lot to be proud of, isn’t it?

jokerAlthough he opted not to run for re-election as trustee, the specter of Fritz Gohl continues to loom over the village. Gohl, now receiving financial compensation as a Barrington Township trustee, still can claim his title of village buffoon. His frequent public comments during Board of Trustees meetings are no more logical or coherent now than they were during his tenure on the board.

ThumbsDownChuck Stewart, Village Arborist, is the last of the Kosin-era hold-overs. In appearances in front of village commissions and the BOT, Stewart communicates poorly and comes across as disorganized. The Observer is also concerned about the questionable judgment he demonstrated in enforcing the Tree Preservation Ordinance both in the Hasan case and in the aforementioned Barrington Hills Farm matter. Those faults, combined with an undisclosed potential conflict of interest (Stewart rents office space in a building owned by one of the members of the board of Barrington Hills Farm), makes him a poor choice to continue in the role of Village Arborist. The Village needs a tree expert who can communicate clearly with residents and builders, as well as with Village administration.

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From a Kane County Department of Transportation press release:

longmeadow-pkwy-2016-tree-removal-e-of-il-25-to-il-62-loc-mapThe next stage of right-of-way work for the Longmeadow Parkway Corridor will take place in Barrington Hills, starting next week.

On Jan. 22, 2018, weather permitting, right-of-way preparation and tree removal will begin along the Longmeadow Parkway Corridor from east of IL Route 25 to IL Route 62 and along IL Route 62 in the village of Barrington Hills.

During the work, there may be temporary single-lane closures with flaggers directing traffic. Construction work hours will be from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The work is anticipated to take two weeks to complete.

Right-of-way preparation is being done in advance of the roadway improvements that will start in spring 2018.

The above-mentioned roads will remain open during treatment, but may be reduced to one lane of travel using temporary daily lane closures.

Motorists need to be prepared to reduce their speed, exercise caution and be extra alert. Watch for and obey flaggers and other traffic control devices within the work zone.

Drivers should expect delays while traveling through the work areas. You may want to add additional time to your commute and consider the use of alternate routes while this work is being completed.

KDOT officials remind drivers that it is illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving through a highway construction work zone.

Questions and concerns may be directed to Patrick VerHalen at 630-208-3138. For all Kane County traffic advisories, see the KDOT Traffic Alerts page on the KDOT website.

SOURCE: KDOT news release

The entire press release can be read on the Kane County website here.

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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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IDOT IL 62 Study As state transportation officials brainstorm ways to address a bottleneck along Route 62 in Barrington Hills, they’re inviting area residents to learn more about the issue during an upcoming open house.

The event comes as officials with the Illinois Department of Transportation begin a four-year study examining possible upgrades and widening options to Route 62, between routes 25 and 68 in Barrington Hills.

Currently, the four-mile stretch, also named Algonquin Road, narrows to one-lane in each direction, but the roadway expands to two lanes in both directions before and after routes 25 and 68, said Kimberly Murphy, who heads the consultant studies unit for IDOT.

Traffic along that stretch of Route 62 also is over capacity, she said.

“There’s a lack of continuity between 25 and 68,” Murphy said. “It’s sort of a bottleneck.”

The upcoming open house for residents lasts from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Barrington Park District, 235 Lions Drive, Barrington.

During the event, IDOT officials said representatives will introduce tentative roadwork plans, listen to public feedback and answer residents’ questions. IDOT also is taking applications for a new community advisory committee on the project that would feature Barrington-area residents, motorists and stakeholders, Murphy said.

To read the full Barrington Courier-Review article, including comments by Barrington Hills Village Administrator Robert Kosin, click here.

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IDOT IL 62 Study“BARRINGTON, IL – A public meeting will be held on Thursday, Nov. 9 to discuss road improvements proposed on Illinois Route 62 in Barrington Hills. The Illinois Department of Transportation will accept public comments at the meeting and written comments that are mailed or submitted online until Dec. 1.

IDOT didn’t specify what improvements are planned on the main Barrington Hills thoroughfare except that they are planned between Illinois 25 and Illinois 68, a stretch that covers most of the village. Preliminary engineering and environmental studies have already begun.

The hearing, planned from 4-7 p.m. on Nov. 9 at the Barrington Park District, 235 Lions Drive in Barrington, will introduce the project, obtain public input and inform those in attendance about additional public involvement opportunities.

Exhibits will be on display and an audio-visual presentation will be shown during the open-house format meeting.

The official public meeting record will include comments heard in person, mailed and ones that will be submitted online here.”

The original press release in the Barrington Patch can be seen here.

In addition, IDOT has set up a website for the project which does not include any further details, but we will continue to monitor it for any updates.  We did note that the logo (above) for the project contains a horse, trees and a bicycle.

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21432900_10155465893416501_3286158876692399951_n A sunny day and a house parading by on a truck drew a Main Street crowd that came equipped with snacks and even champagne to watch the slow show Sunday in Barrington.

A 19th-century building made the move from 118 Wool Street through the heart of town to Barrington Hills resident Jeff Baustert’s property. On hand for the move was Mel Schroeder, 94, who grew up in the house and lived there until 1946, when he got married.

 To read the full Daily Herald feature, click here.

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