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Archive for the ‘Lighting Ordinance’ Category

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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The Board of Trustees will hold their monthly meeting this Wednesday evening beginning at 6:30 PM.

The meeting will begin with a public hearing regarding the proposed 2016 Appropriation Ordinance.  Appropriations amounts are set higher than the budget figures already approved for 2016, and represent the maximum dollars the board may spend in a given year.   A copy of the ordinance can be viewed and downloaded here.

The agenda for the regular meeting beginning immediately following the hearing can be viewed here.

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The Zoning Board of Appeals had a relatively full agenda when they met on February 17th, including two public hearings on special use permit applications, review and approval of the official 2016 Village Zoning Map, and a general discussion of how to better address various special events that occur in Barrington Hills.

The first special use application heard was for a back-lit lettered LED sign and cross mounted on the northwestern face of the Barrington United Methodist Church located at 98 Algonquin Rd.  The sign was desired to better help those unfamiliar with the area to locate the church at night.

The sign was approved, and if approved by the Board of Trustees, it will be the first of its kind in Barrington Hills on a structure.  The recording of the public hearing can be heard here, and the discussion and vote by the board can be heard here.

Another special use application was presented by representatives of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church at 337 Ridge Rd. for an addition of a small screened porch to the church’s rectory.  The permit was required due to a needed setback variation. 

The matter was tabled until the March meeting after discussion turned to some ongoing drainage and septic issues in the general area, and board members wished to look into those matters before deciding on the permit.  That public hearing recording can be accessed here.

Board members then went through the ritual of approving the yearly official zoning map, but it was not unanimous, and was the subject of debate on if it accurately depicts R-1 zoning in the Village as can be heard here.

The board then began to consider how the Village might draft or better define codes related to the variety of special events held on private properties in the Village throughout the year, as can be heard here.

The menu of edited recordings by agenda topic from the full two and a half hour meeting can be accessed here.

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Friday FlashbackFollowing are some of the articles published by The Observer for the month of October in recent years. These articles, gathered from various publications and editorials, are noteworthy for residents in that they remind us of where we’ve been as a community.

Resident files petition in protest of Dark Sky proposal – 2010

A Barrington Hills resident wants a superior majority vote on the village’s Dark Sky proposal to limit exterior lighting on residential and commercial properties.

Dennis Gallitano filed a petition with the village clerk objecting to the Zoning Board of Appeals-recommended proposal.

“Over a year ago, nobody really thought that the Village Board would still be entertaining this ordinance given the significant opposition by virtually every corner of the village,” Gallitano said. “The filing of the petition should give our village leaders a wake-up call that this ordinance is not what this village needs or, wants.”

Read the full TribLocal article here.

Barrington Hills board will again discuss cost of videotaping meetings – 2011

The Barrington Hills Village Board will revisit having a camera installed in its boardroom to tape proceedings for the village’s website at a meeting later this month.

At its next meeting on Oct. 24, the board is expected to mull over further cost estimates for the camera and other equipment needed to make meetings available online. Other local governments, such as those in Barrington and Palatine, already broadcast their meetings online.

“It will also potentially alleviate our need to have the ZBA meetings transcribed, saving about $20,000,” said Skip Gianopulos.

The full TribLocal article can be read here.

Firefighter injured in Barrington Hills barn fire – 2012

A firefighter was slightly injured in a four-alarm barn fire in Barrington Hills Wednesday morning.

The fire was called in at 8:18 a.m. in the 21000 block of Ridge Road, said Fire Chief Jim Arie, who was at the scene with the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District.

Read more here.  NBC Chicago has posted a video of firefighters battling the blaze, and it can be viewed here

Developer to sell McHenry County land near Barrington Hills – 2013

A 602-acre property, most of which was disconnected from Barrington Hills during a long, intense legal fight that began early last decade, is being put up for sale by its would-be developer.

The Fritz Duda Co. is asking for $17 million for the jaggedly bordered undeveloped land at Spring Creek and Haegers Bend roads in McHenry County, along Barrington Hills’ border with Algonquin.

Read the Daily Herald story here.

Horse feud splitting Barrington Hills – 2014

There’s something missing from the stables at Oakwood Farm in Barrington Hills: horses. On a recent morning, most stalls were empty. The horses that had boarded here were gone, banished following a court order.

The feud between neighbors that led to the shutdown of Oakwood Farm’s boarding operations has simmered for years. Now it’s boiling over into a communitywide controversy that has angry residents of Barrington Hills arguing over the very nature of their community.

Read more of the Chicago Tribune story here.

-The Observer

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Friday FlashbackFollowing are some of the articles published by The Observer for the month of August in recent years. These articles, gathered from various publications and editorials, are noteworthy for residents in that they remind us of where we’ve been as a community.

‘Dark Sky’ proposal sent to Village Board – 2010

The skies over Barrington Hills won’t go dark, despite two years of work on a proposal to limit outside lighting, until 2031 under a plan moved forward Wednesday night.

The Zoning Board of Appeals chose that year over 2021 — with both dates well into the future in order to save homeowners from having to spend “a significant amount of money” to retrofit their lighting systems, said Joe von Meier, village attorney.

Read the original Tribune article here.

Horse boarding continues to draw controversy in Barrington Hills – 2011

Barrington Hills officials agree the village’s ordinance on home businesses needs tweaking to deal with large commercial horse boarders on residential properties, but they disagree on what exactly needs to be done.

The board held a joint meeting with the Zoning Board of Appeals this week to discuss the ordinance amendment ZBA members are currently working on. The Board of Appeals is looking at requiring large boarding operations, defined as 10 or more horses, to acquire a special use permit to the Home Occupation Ordinance.* That ordinance allows people to run small businesses — everything from music lessons to attorney’s offices — from their homes.

The 2011 Tribune article can be read here.

*The Zoning Board of Appeals written recommendation to the Village Board regarding commercial horse boarding code changes at that time can be viewed here.

Barrington Hills trustees mad over attorney’s removal – 2014

A dispute over the removal of Barrington Hills’ longtime village attorney played out before a capacity crowd of residents at village hall Tuesday night.

Village President Martin McLaughlin asked the previous attorney of more than 30 years, the law offices of Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, to resign last week, citing the Illinois Attorney General office’s finding that the village violated the Open Meetings Act in April 2013.

He also cited the attorney’s research fees, which he called unnecessarily high.

Read the original posting with comments here.

Barrington Hills board shows opposition to bike lanes – 2014

The Barrington Hills board assured residents at a standing-room-only meeting Tuesday night that there are no plans to build bike lanes or widen any of the village’s roads.

Read the original Observer posting, including editorial and reader comments and the link to the original Daily Herald story here.

Why Barrington Hills must change –2014

This op/ed piece from August 2014 suggested that “It’s time for us to stop being a sideshow for the entertainment of surrounding communities.  Instead of “Don’t Change Barrington Hills,” a more productive goal is “Let’s Change Barrington Hills.”

Read the original editorial by clicking here.

-The Observer

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Too Many SignsThere are too many signs in Barrington Hills.  Drive down most roads, and it will be obvious.  Too many election signs.  One next to the other and then another and another.  What’s worse than that?  There are too many “for sale” signs.  They signal a broad sense of dissatisfaction and a desire to get out.  This may or may not be true, but the signs say to the world and to us that we are in trouble.

The truth is that it has become far too noisy in Barrington Hills.  The noise comes not from the sounds of traffic or congestion but from one group of voices trying to drown out the other.  And we are all to blame, including this publication.

There are too many blogs and political parties.  Their names are an allegory for something that has been lost or diminished:  “Save Horse Boarding in Barrington Hills,” “Don’t Change Barrington Hills,” “Save Open Space,” and “Preserve Barrington Hills.”  But what have we really lost?

There have been too many lawsuits:  Iatarola, Duda, Sears, LeCompte 1, LeCompte 2, and now a fresh lawsuit challenging the Village’s handling of its own horse boarding laws.  These lawsuits are also a sign that we have lost control of our problems and now must ask faraway judges, strangers to our Village, to decide what we were unable to resolve ourselves.

We talk too much about lawyers and legal fees and government investigations.  We have had too many controversies:  cell phone towers; exterior lighting (remember the HALO signs?); horse boarding; bike lanes; disconnection; 911.  The list and the signs go on and on.

There have been too many headlines portraying our small Village as the epicenter of wealthy-folks’ petulant controversies:  “Horse feud splitting Barrington Hills”; “Residents, cyclists feud over Barrington Hills roads”; “AG’s office reviews ex-mayor’s Barrington Hills appointments”; “Appellate court sides with Barrington Hills police officers.”

Of course we would be remiss or (worse) hypocritical if we did not recognize that these pages too, within the Barrington Hills Observer, have added to the “noise.”  If only by necessity, we have editorialized and perhaps sometimes heightened the public debate on controversial local political topics and public figures.

We spend too much money on trustee campaigns; we stuff mailboxes with too many mailers; there are too many political coffees (and too few social ones); and too many articles about all of them.  And, while we could never be critical of public participation in government, the reality is that our Village Board meetings are too well attended because they are filled with so much drama.  We’ve become a rival to reality television, including the expletives.

Now back to the question.  What have we lost?  The answer is that we have lost peace and a commitment to the public and private service of our neighbors.  We have taken the noise to a level that cannot be sustained and it is time to back down.  If not, what’s next?  More signs.  More lawsuits.  More lawyers and lawyer fees.  More mailers.  And, regrettably and not coincidentally, more “for sale” signs.  We have written before on the need to restore peace to Barrington Hills, (Read “Why Barrington Hills must change”). It is equally or more true today.

On April 7th, next Tuesday, we will have an opportunity as a Village to restore peace to Barrington Hills at the ballot box and, one can only hope, to usher in a new era of public and private service of our neighbors.  Our roads and budgets and zoning laws need repair.  For those jobs we need trustees who will be devoted to public service and unity.   We need residents who possess the skills needed to fix our broken roads, budgets and zoning laws, not noisemakers.

The Observer will publish its endorsements on Monday.  Suffice it to say we will not be endorsing the candidates whose names have been synonymous with the noise that now covers the Village like a blanket.

It is time to reflect and to reduce the “signs” of trouble in our Village.

–     The Observer

 

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The Village has released recordings from last Monday evening’s Village Board meeting.  We understand an overflow crowd of residents witnessed what ultimately deteriorated to an “R-Rated” display of political theater near the conclusion of the three-hour meeting.

Twelve residents spoke during public comment.  Eleven of them were given due respect from the board beginning with the first speaker who called for an investigation of President McLaughlin’s actions in office.  The speaker was met with no interruption, and in fact, was acknowledged with a respectful “thank you” from President McLaughlin at the end.

To listen to the comments of the speaker, who just happens to be the Campaign Chair for Trustees Meroni and Selman’s SOS Party, click here.

However, the third speaker was interrupted so loudly and frequently by Trustee Messer that the chair was forced to suggest he would need to leave the room if he could not maintain decorum.  Even Trustee Meroni stated “Let him go on continuing to make a fool of himself” when Messer continued on even after the speaker was done.  A direct link to that exchange can be found here.

As always, we recommend readers listen to all comments from residents who took the time to attend and contribute to the discussion.

After public comment, three representatives from ComEd provided an update on the planned installations of Smart Meters in Barrington Hills beginning in May.  Their presentation can be heard here.

During the finance discussion, Trustee Harrington once again objected to payments to Patrick Bond, temporary Village counsel, despite the fact that neither he, nor any other Trustee, has recommended a replacement for Bond who continues to gladly answer legal questions from every board member.  Bond’s billing was denied by five trustees, and according to recorded minutes, he has not been paid since August or September of last year, yet he continues to serve the board dutifully and without hesitation.

The vote on the 911 consolidation ordinance was tabled by Trustee Gohl due to public comment that evening and because of pending insurance information from QuadCom.  His motion passed with only one nay vote from Trustee Meroni.

During her Roads & Bridges report, Trustee Meroni stated that she was unprepared to present a mid-range plan beyond the current year to catch up on the 4.5 mile backlog of road resurfacing, but committed to present one at the February board meeting.

Trustee Messer presented an ordinance he had drafted repealing the code allowing the Village President to appoint special counsel.  Many, including The Observer, viewed Messer’s draft as ambiguous in scope and could have also been used to take the power to appoint the Village Attorney away from the office of the Village President.  After much wrangling, Messer finally agreed to change the dubious language, and it passed by a 5-2 vote.

During the Board of Health report and discussion, Trustee Harrington and Bob Kosin gained support from the board to allow for more extensive periodic testing of well water from public locations required to do so by law, such as churches, the Riding Center and the Village Hall well.  We commend the members of the Board of Health for taking on this initiative, since nearly every resident has no alternative to well water.

Finally, after nearly two and half hours the much-anticipated report on Administration that had attracted most of the crowd was presented.

President McLaughlin stated that he had vetoed the Anderson-LeCompte commercial horse boarding amendment on January 6th, and then proceeded to provide a very reasonable explanation regarding why he exercised his right, as can be heard here.  Despite this veto, the same five Trustees who voted to approve the amendment can override the veto at the next Board meeting.

McLaughlin then spoke to his initiation of a special counsel review into the manner in which the Anderson-LeCompte boarding amendment was handled and allegations of impropriety brought forward by residents.  That recording can be found here.

No sooner than the President finished, Trustee Harrington interrupted the agenda with his own call for an investigation in a lengthy prepared statement mirroring the comments of the SOS Party chair earlier in the evening.

Harrington, who recently donated $10,000 to Trustees Meroni and Selman’s SOS Party, accused McLaughlin of political motivation in his call for a special investigation regarding the horse boarding amendment and cited a laundry list of anything he could name, from appointments made by McLaughlin that adhered to Village Code and the Open Meetings Act, to allegations of impropriety in conducting the annual Village “party” known as the “Hills are Alive Heritage Fest.”

shocked_womanDespite the disrespectful interruptions by fellow Trustees throughout the meeting, particularly from Messer, McLaughlin kept his composure and continued to maintain order in the crowded MacArthur room as best he could.  He never objected any investigation Harrington proposed, but his assuredness clearly got to Messer who finally burst out with something we will not reprint in this publication, though it can be heard here, but readers are advised it is NSFW (not suitable for work).

Earlier in the evening, Trustee Messer had expressed disappointment when he reported that only five permits had been issued in 2014 for new home construction.  Frankly, given the frequent negative publicity Barrington Hills has endured for nearly a decade over cell towers, lighting ordinances and multiple failed attempts to address horse boarding in our “equestrian” branded community, conflicts of interest on two boards and his precedent-setting drop of the “F-Bomb” in a public meeting, we’re pleased anyone is building here at all.

The link to the full menu of edited recordings from the meeting can be accessed here.

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