Archive for the ‘Equestrian Commission’ Category

Audio recordings from the June 20th Zoning Board of Appeals meeting are available for review on the Village website.  The menu of edited recordings by agenda topic can be accessed by clicking here.

Nine residents made public comments at the beginning of the meeting, and since the sole topic for discussion that evening was the commercial horse boarding zoning text, a handful of historically vocal equestrians on the matter made most of the remarks.

The first speaker was the chairman of Barrington Hills Farms (formerly known as the “Duda” property), who stated, “we have invested in this property with the intention of housing two wonderful organizations, one of which is HARPS, which we’re all familiar with.  We very much depend on the horse boarding text amendment as it exists today, and hope that there is nothing that is ever done to change that.”  His comments can be heard here.

As we’ve reported recently (see  Plans unveiled for new HARPS facility), most of the 600 plus acres that compromise Barrington Hills Farms is not in Barrington Hills, but instead in unincorporated McHenry County, so few, if any, of our codes pertain to their plans.  And the HARPS facility is already going through the McHenry County zoning process.  So, even if the proposed new HARPS facility were being built in Barrington Hills, codes outside of any commercial boarding text would require that a special use permit be granted, since the HARPS complex is an animal rescue facility and it will also be providing out-patient veterinary treatment.

It’s also worth noting that Barrington Hills Farms was organized on June 25, 2014, according to records seen here.  The Zoning Board of Appeals didn’t even hold a public hearing on any of the four commercial horse boarding text amendments submitted that year until July 21, 2014, so at the time the 602 acres were purchased, boarding was still classified under “Home Occupation” in our codes.

The second speaker is a professional horse and rider trainer in the Village who was very vocal during the last public hearings in 2014.  Since that time, she has moved her base of operations from Tudor Oaks Farm to Oakwood Farms.  Her comments can be heard here.

During her remarks, she stated, “I have to surmise that the only possible reason that the Village Board of Trustees wants a ‘do over’ would be to satisfy their own egos to get their own way at any cost.”  It would seem that if this were this the case, this meeting would have taken place a year ago after the 2015 election.

Further on she stated that, “every discussion regarding horse boarding is held in executive session now in the, with the Board of Trustees, so the general public is left out of the loop.”   

We cannot comment on her allegation since executive sessions by the Board of Trustees are confidential, but we are interested in which trustee(s) might be sharing information from these meetings with interested parties.

Later on, a resident at the heart of the boarding controversy, who was allowed a protracted amount of time to comment said, “We’ve been debating this horse boarding issue since two-thousand and five, OK?  The only year I think it may not have been on the agenda in the last 12 years is 2013.  But I could be wrong, I’d have to go back and look.

So for 12 years we’ve been going through this.  We’ve considered special use.  We’ve considered a bunch of things.  We’ve considered agriculture, all this stuff, and finally a year ago, or it’s two years ago, a year ago we passed it, two years ago it started, we passed an amendment.  Yah, some people may not like it, but that’s the democratic process, and it passed.” 

The speaker’s full comments can be heard here, but we would be remiss if we did not remind readers of the change in presidency of our Village in 2013 when horse boarding was not an issue according to the speaker. 

Two years later, the “democratic process” the speaker referred to may have contributed to the ouster of two incumbent trustees in the 2015 elections who voted to approve a commercial horse boarding amendment considerably based on the language the speaker himself proposed in 2014.

The last public speaker, who happens to be in the real estate profession, added his perspectives on how the recently enacted commercial horse boarding codes have affected property values and sales in Barrington Hills.  His comments can be heard here.

When the board got down to their business at hand, the question of whether the current commercial horse boarding text enacted in early 2015 should be revisited was posed by the chair and the attorney  to the board members .  The question was prompted by a recent petition submitted to the village by a resident to amend the current commercial horse boarding codes.

The first member to respond did not hesitate, but we cannot do his comments justice by summarizing them.  What we will state is his remarks on what has transpired in recent years were remarkably candid.

We also believe he has coined a phrase that will be repeated often when he referred to a “handful” in our community as “Radical Jihadist Equestrians” (henceforth RJE’s) who shoved the current commercial horse boarding text down residents’ throats.  He later apologized for the frankness of his remarks, however, we believe many readers will appreciate them, and they can be heard here.

The next member to speak suggested that perhaps the Home Occupation Ordinance (which was the former code for all boarding operations since 2005), was “far too restrictive” on larger existing boarding operations, and that the 2015 text amendment “compensated too far in the opposite direction.”   She went on to state the board should revisit horse boarding codes in an attempt to find a middle ground.  Those comments can be heard here.

The third board member’s comments, again, cannot be summarized in order to do them justice. However, his historical knowledge and prior experience on the Plan Commission warrant readers to take note and listen to them by clicking here.

Another member stated he would like to learn more of the history of the matter, but expressed his belief that the recently enacted ordinance provided, “large powers to businesses.” 

He went on to say, “I think everyone here in Barrington Hills moved here for the space, and for the quiet, for the nature.  Some wanted horses, which is great.  I prefer to ride bicycles, that’s great.  Some people like to bird or hike or whatever, it’s always been a place, I think, peace and quiet and neighbors getting along.”  His remarks can be heard here.

The next member to speak was on the Zoning Board when the draft of the current boarding text was being fast-tracked, and he recalled, “I was on the Zoning Board when it was passed, and I was given assurances that wasn’t going to be passed the way it was, that we going to discuss alternatives, and that never occurred, so it doesn’t bother me to come back and revisit the issue.”  His comments can be heard here.

The chair then stated he thought there was a consensus to review the text that is currently in place, but also suggested options that included doing nothing at all.  He then laid out a preliminary action plan and timeline for the process to proceed.  Both remarks can be heard here.

During the discussion that ensued, the board agreed they wished to hear from residents on the matter during the process, and they would solicit expert testimony as needed. 

They also would like to have the Barrington Hills Park District weigh in on the matter.  We find this curious, since there may be conflict of interest on the part of at least three members of that board, two of whom spoke during public comments at this meeting (John Rosene and Dennis Kelly).  Nonetheless, we look forward to hearing their perspectives.

The next meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals is scheduled for Monday, July 18th.

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Audio recordings from the June 16th Roads & Bridges meeting have been posted to the Village website.  To access the menu of edited recordings by agenda topic, click here.

Two residents made public comments on a variety of topics, and their remarks to the committee can be heard here.

The Cuba Road Bridge reconstruction project update followed and brought news of further delays.  Dan Strahan, Village Engineer, reported that the contractor on the project requested the deadline for completion of the bridge be extended due to an error on their part with “shop drawings” and a change in steel support materials. 

Both IDOT and the Village refused an extension, and depending on how far beyond the original final date for completion it takes to reopen the bridge, IDOT and the Village will likely get monies back in the form of penalties deducted from the final invoice.  The contractual deadline for completion is August 7th.

When Strahan concluded his report, Chairman Cecola remarked that he expected he would be receiving calls from residents regarding what seem like undue further delays.  The discussion of the further Cuba Road Bridge SNAFU’s can be heard here.

Updates on the 2016 road programs, including pavement markings for some roads, patching of Ridge Road, drainage issues and the planned roadwork on Helm, Healy, River and Woodcreek Roads, as well as Lakeview, Hawthorne and Tamarack Lanes were then discussed.

Trustee Cecola, who also oversees public safety, concluded the meeting with some comments on recent vehicular accidents in the Village, including one involving one of our officers, and his praise of how our officers have responded to these unfortunate occurrences.  His remarks can be heard by clicking here.

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The Zoning Board of Appeals will be holding their regular monthly meeting this evening at 7:30 PM.   The topic for discussion will be commercial horse boarding codes according to the agenda, which can be viewed here.

Pro-TemGohlThe 48-page ePacket agenda (seen here) contains a number of historical documents, most of which have been published in these pages over the many years this topic has been discussed.  One new item to be found in the file, however, is a recent letter from Trustee Fritz Gohl who cautions the members of the Zoning Board of opening “Pan Dora Door’s Box” should they consider revising our current commercial horse boarding codes.  

Gohl’s thoughts on the matter of commercial horse boarding can be read here.

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The April 25th meeting of the Board of Trustees took place with a minimum quorum of four members present.  Pro-Tem Hannigan was out of the country, and trustees Harrington and Gohl were absent, which seems to have become a pattern since Village records indicate Harrington and Gohl have each missed seven regular or special board meetings in the last twelve months.

Four people took part in public comments at the beginning of the meeting.  The first two comments were about horses or horse boarding, and the last two were regarding a septic system.  All four comments can be heard by clicking here.

Board members later affirmed decisions made by the Zoning Board of Appeals by unanimously approving a basketball court and new signage at Countryside School and a small addition to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

During the Plan Commission report, a member of Citizens for Conservation weighed in on whether or not to treat trees infested with Emerald Ash Borers.  Her comments can be heard here, however President McLaughlin made it clear more than once that the Village has never taken a position on whether or not to treat infested trees as the speaker implied.

At the end of the meeting, President McLaughlin made reappointments to the Zoning Board, Board of Health, Plan Commission and Equestrian Commission with the unanimous support of those present.  McLaughlin also appointed Village Clerk, Anna Paul, to become the new Village Open Meetings Act Officer.  Recordings of these appointments can be heard here.

The menu of edited recordings by agenda topic for the full meeting can be accessed here.

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The Village Board will hold their regular monthly meeting this evening at 6:30 PM.  A copy of the agenda can be viewed here.  

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Village Hall staff have posted a PDF copy of the winter 2016 Village newsletter to the Village website.  Highlights from this issue include:

  • A 4.1% reduction in the annual Levy (2nd reduction in two years)
  • Cash reserves increased in 2015
  • A return to a 10 year road resurfacing schedule
  • Announcement of a new Village Treasurer
  • Appointment of a new Deputy Village Clerk
  • A reminder the Village vehicle sticker program is discontinued, and
  • A Cuba Road Bridge replacement progress update

A copy of the latest newsletter can be viewed and downloaded here.

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RCBH Logo 2Last evening, the Riding Club of Barrington Hills held their annual meeting for members to vote for a slate of individuals selected in some fashion to oversee the club’s activities and initiatives in 2016.

According to the club’s website, the following slated nominees were elected:


President:   Jane Clement

Vice-President:  Mary Beth Holsteen

Treasurer:  Leslie Coolidge

Secretary:  Vicki Kelly

Membership:  Lynn Topping


Lorelei Benkendorf

Jeryl Olsen

Eric Carstensen

Carol Gensburg

Louis Iacovelli

Grace Quinn

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The Roads & Bridges Committee will meet on Thursday, January 21st at 4:00 PM.  A copy of the meeting agenda can be viewed here.

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The Observer takes a look back at another year gone by, as we present the ten most frequently read news stories and editorials for 2015.  Click on any title to read and revisit stories from this past year.

January 26th Village Board meeting recordings released

The top read story of the year came early with our reporting of an unfortunate scene during the January Village Board meeting when a former Trustee resorted to profanity with tensions mounting before the 2015 elections.

Horse boarding rules already facing legal challenge

It came as no surprise to most residents that within days after some Trustees voted to override the veto of the highly controversial LeCompte/Anderson Horse Boarding amendment that a lawsuit was filed against the Village, as this news article from March reports. 

“Don’t be deceived” – Part Five

In the weeks leading up to the April 2015 election, we ran a series of five articles titled “Don’t be deceived” dispelling rumors and falsehoods being published by the SOS party candidates during the campaign.  The fifth was the most read.

We’ve Been Clubbed by Commercial Horse Boarding

The play on words in the title of this January editorial was the only light-hearted item about it as we pointed out the obvious and blatant conflicts of interests that a majority of members of our Zoning and Village Boards had when it came to legislating anything related to horse boarding codes.

Croll, Maison and Cecola win seats on Barrington Hills Board

The title of this article speaks for itself, and it was read by hundreds of relieved residents.

Barrington Hills candidates debate horse-boarding solutions, veto

Early on in the 2015 campaign for three seats on our Village Board, the controversy over horse boarding was employed as a wedge to divide the electorate.  This February 4 Daily Herald article is one well read example.  

Homeowners sue Barrington Hills after tree dispute bars them from moving in

This May 2015 story ultimately pointed out some shortcomings in our code, as well as the uneven enforcement of them by our (now former) Code Enforcement Officer.  Lessons were learned and corrective action was taken.

Polo politicking – SOS Party style

Political operatives supporting one trustee slate attempted in March to persuade would-be voters that if their candidates lost the election it would mean the end of public polo matches in Barrington Hills.  This editorial pointed out their underestimation of the intelligence of residents. 

Board votes to settle suit, void Commercial Horse Boarding amendment

Our October article reporting the actions of the Village Board regarding the flawed LeCompte/Anderson Horse Boarding amendment was well read and garnered quite a number of reader comments.

Too many signs

A former Village President was fond of saying the reason there are no signs reading “Welcome to Barrington Hills” on roads leading into the Village was because people passing through knew the borders instantly by seeing the sprawling estates.  Last April, no one really noticed the estates, just the over-abundance of political campaign signs.

**It should be noted that a recently published article titled “2015 Shining Star Awards” would likely have made this year’s top read list considering it has been shared by 119 Facebook users already, but it was only published on December 22nd.  Perhaps it will make our 2016 list.

-The Observer

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The Village has released the audio recordings from the December 7th quarterly meeting of the Equestrian Commission.

There were no formal comments made during public comment, however attendees were allowed to comment or ask questions when recognized by the chair throughout the meeting.  This more informal format is used for most Barrington Hills meetings, excluding the Village and Zoning Board meetings.

The first item covered in the meeting was the status of Horizon Farms.  Trustee Maison, liaison to the commission, provided the update, which can be heard here.

Village attorney Patrick Bond then spoke about the status of horse boarding in Barrington Hills as it stands currently in our Village Codes.  His presentation can be heard here.

It was surprising that none of the estimated 20 residents in attendance, or any of the commission members had questions or comments after Bond’s comments.  Considering the misinformation circulating throughout the Village on this topic in the last few years, one might have expected some interaction, but there was only silence.

When the topic of equestrian trail maps was discussed, there was interaction.

The Riding Club of Barrington Hills has expressed a desire to convert some of the private trails on homeowners’ properties to legal easements deeded to the club.  Two cases in which a swimming pool and a garden had been constructed which disrupted the trails were cited as factors for their desire to have better control of their trails.

It was suggested that if the trails were deeded to the Riding Club, this might be avoided, and a club representative in the audience stated that Riding Club would bear the cost of the filing fee.  Interested residents can contact the Riding Club, and the recording of that discussion can be heard here.

The agenda subject of “Equestrian Information on Website & in newsletter” also proved to be quite interesting.  The chair began the discussion by stating, “We have a number of equestrian clubs in Barrington Hills, and our events overlap.  For example, the Riding Club had a sector ride on the same day as the Village held ‘Hills Are Alive’, and so we couldn’t participate.”

Citing this recent scheduling “conflict,” she went on to express the desire to have one central calendar that all equestrian clubs may use for planning purposes, and to provide the public an opportunity to see all Village equestrian events, hunts or shows.

The chair then requested that the Village invite the Riding Club, Polo Club, Fox River Hounds, the Pony Club and the Barrington Hills Park District to utilize the Village government’s calendar for scheduling and information purposes, as well as add links to those organizations’ websites.

This seems like a reasonable concept, however the Barrington Area Library already provides a community calendar for this purpose, as seen here.

Furthermore, if the Village were to extend such an invitation, other organizations within the Village should be allowed to participate as well.  Garden clubs, youth scouting organizations, public and private schools, conservation groups and houses of worship, among others, would likely wish to have their notices posted to the calendar as well.

There’s also the matter of resources to be considered.  If the Village were to take on this responsibility, the time required to maintain such a calendar might become too great, thus detracting from other duties performed by Village Hall staff.

If the Village does decide to proceed with this initiative, the one suggestion we have is to create separate calendars for government business and community events.  Otherwise, the current calendar would likely become very muddled, thus making it more difficult for residents only interested in government meeting information to find what they’re looking for.

The link to the full Village website utilization discussion recording can be accessed here.  The menu of edited recordings by agenda topic for the entire meeting can be accessed here.

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