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Archive for the ‘Audio Recordings’ Category

On October 31st, the Board of Trustees held a special meeting to discuss a zoning enforcement matter.  The menu of recordings by agenda topic can be viewed here.

The sole agenda item for this board meeting was to discuss, and vote on, “Authorizing the Execution of a Settlement Agreement of a Zoning Enforcement Action Against Operation of a Business at 3 Saville Road.”

Records dating back as far as 2012 refer to resident complaints over a homeowner operating an HVAC business from the subject residence, ostensibly under the Home Occupation Ordinance (HOO).  The Code Enforcement Officer eventually issued a cease operation letter.  The homeowner filed an appeal with the Zoning Board of Appeals, which was denied, and eventually the Village had to file suit in court since the homeowner apparently refused to comply.

Despite the fact the business operations were eventually ceased or scaled back sufficiently to comply with Village code, a judge recommended the Village fine the resident for the period of time they were not in compliance of Village ordinances recommending a settlement fine of $25,000.

Prior to voting on this settlement, trustees bought up parallels to a similar situation that occurred with Oakwood Farms where no fines were assessed, even for the period of time Oakwood was not in compliance with Village Code.

The Village issued a cease and desist letter to Oakwood Farm after neighbor complaints, which the owner ignored, and a lawsuit was filed and won costing Barrington Hills taxpayers a purported $180,000. The law firm representing the Village at that time continues to provide their summary of the matter in a February 1, 2010 press release on their website, which can be viewed here.

Politics at that time seemed to supersede, however, and the home business operator made modifications to their operations, resulting in the issuance of a letter from the then Building Enforcement Officer, Don Shuman, on March 15th of 2011, declaring the Oakwood operation compliant with HOO (for more background, click here).

Back to the present, the five board members in attendance at the October 31st meeting voted 4-1 (Trustee Gohl voted no) to settle with the Saville Row homeowner for the amount of $25,000, which at least covered the legal expenses incurred to taxpayers.  It should be noted this appears to be the highest amount ever assessed to a homeowner in violation for a period of time of the HOO.

The question is, shall or should the owners of Oakwood Farm have been assessed fines for the period of time they were not in compliance with Village codes?  We think so.

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Audio recordings from the October 24th meeting of the Board of Trustees have been posted to the Village website, and the menu of edited recordings by agenda topic can be accessed by clicking here.

Two residents made public comments regarding Longmeadow Parkway and interior decorating of Village Hall.  Those can be heard here.

The treasurer reported FOIA and OMA expenses have been $44,220 for the first nine months of 2016 during the finance report.  Trustees requested a breakdown of those expenses by requestor, and a report will be presented at their next meeting.

It should be noted that not all FOIA and OMA requests require legal review, however those that do represent about one-third of the total expenses year-to-date from Bond Dickson, attorneys for the Village.  The discussion of these expenses can be heard here.

The treasurer also reported the Police Pension Board had met that morning, and they were going to be reviewing the performance of the investment manager they have been using, which we applaud considering the underperformance of their funds compared to market averages.

The Roads & Bridges report included an update on the McHenry County Council of Government’s (MCCOG) transportation plan to continue their support of Longmeadow Parkway and the widening of Algonquin Road/Route 62 in Barrington Hills for 2017.  The Board of Trustees refused to sign off on MCCOG’s 2016 plan due to their support of Longmeadow Parkway, and a review of the steps the Village has taken in the last three years to meet with residents on both Longmeadow and Algonquin Road issues was provided.   The recording of that discussion can be heard here.

The balance of the meeting was fairly routine, but it was mentioned new paint and floor coverings will be coming to Village Hall soon after years of deferral.

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Audio recordings from the September 26th Village Board of Trustees regular monthly meeting are available for review on the Village website.  To access the menu of edited recordings by agenda topic, click here.

One resident made remarks during public comment regarding the condition of a property at the corner of Braeburn and Spring Creek Roads, which can be heard here.

The board then spent roughly twenty minutes reviewing the minutes from their prior meeting.  Most of the discussion related to how detailed the minutes should be, since audio recordings are kept in perpetuity as backup for details of what transpired in any given meeting, but it seems some (or one board member) prefers their statements be as detailed as possible in the minutes as can be heard here.

Moving on to Finance and approval of the monthly bills, discussion revealed legal and managerial expenses related to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests were high again.  Oakwood Farm, LLC and Barrington Hills Farm contributed to the increased expenditures again last month coming in well over $9,000.

Additionally, a former member of the board also added to the legal financial burden with his requests for Open Meetings Act (OMA) investigations filed with the Illinois Attorney General’s office.  When the response to his first request did not meet with his satisfaction, he apparently filed an appeal, further adding to our legal expenses.

Citing this and other instances, attorney Patrick Bond was then asked by Trustee Konicek at what point the requestor might be required to pay for the expense rather than the taxpayer being saddled with the outlay.  Konicek’s questions and Bond’s responses can be heard here.

Later in the meeting the board took up a recommendation for amended codes from the Heritage & Environs Committee (HEC) pertaining to how trash must be contained in their “Refuse Lid Ordinance (RLO).”  Their recommendation would require all refuse to be placed in containers with hinged lids. Failure to comply will result in a fine of $50.

The intention of the HEC proposal was to alleviate trash being strewn along Village roads when plastic garbage bags either fail or animals tear into them before pickup.  A copy of their proposal can be viewed here.

Trustee Gohl motioned to approve the proposed HEC ordinance.  When asked how it would be enforced, Gohl stated, “Well, you have obviously the trash Nazi running up and down the road,” as can be heard here.

After some discussion, board members decided to survey residents prior to moving forward, and they tabled the proposal to a later meeting.  The recording of the full discussion of the HEC proposal can be heard here.

The next regular meeting of the Board of Trustees is scheduled for October 24th.

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Audio recordings from the August 29th Village Board of Trustees meeting have been posted to the Village website.  To access the menu of edited recordings by agenda topic, click here.

Three residents made public comments at the beginning of the meeting.  The comments ranged from a complaint regarding an abandoned home at Braeburn and Spring Creek Roads (heard here), to the Village Tree Ordinance (heard here), and the upcoming hearing on the environmental study of the Longmeadow Parkway project (heard here).

Alice Runvik was then presented an award for 25 years of service to the Barrington Hills Police Department, and the presentation can be heard here.  Alice was unable to attend the previous month’s meeting when awards were presented, and we congratulate her on her milestone of service to our community.

Unfortunately, after this high note of recognition and applause, Trustee Mike Harrington found it necessary to interrupt the proceedings with a point of order regarding the evening’s agenda.  It seems he and Trustee Gohl (or more likely their handlers outside of the boardroom) had requested the agenda to include, “a discussion and vote on whether we should have a public hearing to consider removing Jan Goss from the ZBA.”  He cited a petition including only 102 signatures as the basis for their request.

In the thirteen-minute discussion that ensued, Harrington’s best efforts to create more of the political theater residents are weary of fell flat.

President McLaughlin had asked Gohl (who made the first request) if he had contacted the chairman of the Zoning Board to discuss the matter, and Gohl had not.  McLaughlin explained that it is the Zoning Board chairman’s position to bring forth any issues, and since neither Gohl nor Harrington had afforded the chair the courtesy of input, rather than usurp the chair’s authority, McLaughlin decided not to place the matter on the agenda.

Attorney Patrick Bond then explained it is within the president’s authority to set the agendas of the Board of Trustee meetings per our Village Code, but he also told Harrington he could make a motion to discuss, but not vote on, the matter if he wished.  Harrington declined take advantage of this opportunity for discussion (since Gohl was absent from yet another meeting), instead choosing to protest and waste taxpayer’s money by demanding a written opinion from Bond.

What was not discussed is the fact that Village employee personnel matters are never discussed in public session.  They are always conducted in executive session.  Yet Harrington and Gohl did not want to afford a private citizen the same courtesy, clearly looking to grill a volunteer resident in their proposed public forum.  We find this disgraceful and ill-considered —  no matter whose idea it was.

The recording of this discussion can be heard here, and for the record, we’re told Mr. Goss was in attendance at the meeting.  It’s unknown if any political “handlers” made an appearance, however, but we doubt it.

When the business before the board resumed, the meeting became more productive.

The Village Treasurer reported during the finance report that expenditures are below budget.  She also reported that building permit revenue is “way up” from last year, perhaps indicating the slow housing economy that has dogged Barrington Hills is finally showing some promise.

On the downside, however, she stated Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) expenses are “way over” budget for this year, to the tune of 140%, including $23,000 for the prior month alone in legal fees. 

When asked for some explanation during the review of the bills for the expense increase, Patrick Bond reported, “We have received a number of FOIA’s and voluminous requests from Barrington Hills Farm, ah, J.R. Davis was the requestor (see “Barrington Hills Farm”) and also from, ah, Dr. LeCompte (Oakwood Farm).”  That recording can be heard here.

Later in the meeting, the board approved amended and restated code related to the Tree Preservation Ordinance as proposed by the Plan Commission after nearly a year’s worth of work by that body.  The new code has not yet been posted to the Village website, but those interested can check back at a later date by accessing this link.

During the Administration report, trustees were informed that the necessary updates to Village Hall, such as paint, carpeting and bringing bathrooms up to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards is estimated to cost approximately $68,000.  After some discussion, the board voted to begin “refreshing” the interior of Village Hall.

The next meeting of the Village Board is scheduled for September 26th.

Editor’s Note:  This review of these recordings marks the 2,000th article published in the Barrington Hills Observer.  We would like to express our thanks to our readers for their continued support, and look forward to providing timely news services to the residents of Barrington Hills in the future.

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Audio recordings from the July 21st meeting of the Board of Trustees were recently posted to the Village website for review.  To access the main menu of recordings edited by agenda topic, click here.

The meeting began with awards presentations to members of the Barrington Hills Police Department for their length of service to our community.  JoAnne Gumprecht was recognized for 20 years of service, Alice Runvik for 25 years, and Dominic Caputo for 30 years.  Their awards are pictured below, and the recording of the presentations can be heard here.

VBHPD Awards

Five residents made remarks during public comment, three of which pertained to a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals.  One person spoke about Barrington Hills Farm, and the last person referenced what we assume is a suggestion for the renaming of the Cuba Road Bridge.

The forty-five minute Finance report included the approval of the 2015 fiscal year audit.  A summary of the results will likely be communicated in the next newsletter, however it’s worth noting the Village general fund increased eight percent in 2015 primarily due to decreased expenses, even with one-time charges associated with migrating the Village 911 service to QuadCom.

During the Roads & Bridges report, Village Engineer Dan Strahan reported that the latest forecast for reopening the Cuba Road Bridge is August 13th.  We didn’t notice anyone working at the job site yesterday morning, but we’ll be guardedly optimistic that the bridge will be opening sometime soon.

The Plan Commission will be voting on a final draft of the amended Tree Preservation Ordinance on August 9th.  The agenda packet for this special meeting has been released and can be viewed here.

The Administration report included a recommendation from the Heritage & Environs Committee for updates to the overall décor of Village Hall, which has not been touched in decades, including painting, updating the public restrooms to adhere to ADA requirements and replacing worn carpeting and the quarry tile in the front entrance. 

Since the total estimated amounts for all that needs to be done is substantial, the board was asked to prioritize what should be done first and come up with a capital expenditure amount for this year not to be exceeded to allow work to begin.  After nearly twenty minutes of discussion, the matter was tabled to the August meeting.

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The Village recently posted audio recordings from the June 27th meeting of the Village Board of Trustees.  To access the menu of audio recordings edited by agenda topic, click here.

One resident made public comments, and though he did not identify himself, we’re told it was A. Robert Abboud, father of the former president.  His prepared remarks can be heard here.

The regular meeting began with the financial reports for approval, and we would be remiss if we didn’t recognize the thoroughness and professionalism of the new village treasurer, Peggy Hirsch.  She has presented financial reports she generated from her work at every trustee meeting since her appointment was approved, and is there to answer any immediate questions from the trustees.

The recording of the finance reports and approvals can be heard here.

The Roads and Bridges report and discussion which followed clearly displayed some frustration on the part of some board members, particularly when it came to further delays on the Cuba Road Bridge reconstruction project.  The questioning regarding the ongoing delays in the bridge completion was impeded by the fact that Dan Strahan of Gewalt Hamilton was not present at the meeting.  Nonetheless, Bob Kosin, village administrator, should have been prepared to address the issues raised, but the recordings bear witness to the fact he could not, or would not.

First, it was reported the Cuba Road Bridge project could be shut down completely by IDOT on June 30th due to their 80% funding of the project, as a result of the then pending budget impasse in Springfield.  We did not previously report this possibility due to the political theatre that Springfield has become, and we trust that Trustee Cecola is already fielding calls from residents upset with prolonged delays.

Trustee Konicek pointed out that the original forecasted completion date provided last year by Gewalt Hamilton was May 13th of this year, so the possible IDOT construction shutdown should have been moot.  When she questioned who arrived at that forecasted completion date, and why proper oversight of the project was not provided (presumably by Gewalt Hamilton), Bob Kosin stated that, “The oversight (of the project) has never been surrendered to the Village of Barrington Hills, but it’s always been managed by IDOT.  Day one, IDOT directed every step of this process. ”

Konicek then asked Kosin, “Then why are we paying Gewalt Hamilton, with all due respect?”   Kosin’s answer to this perfectly valid question made little sense to us and can best be told by listening to the recording, but if, in fact, IDOT was in complete charge of the project, we have to wonder where we would stand today if Trustee Cecola didn’t meet with ComEd months ago to expedite the movement of misplaced utilities at the work site?

The recording of the full Cuba Road Bridge discussion can be heard here

During the Building and Zoning report, it was revealed that the Zoning Board of Appeals members were given “confusing” and erroneous instructions, by counsel and the village administrator, regarding what their duties were as it related to commercial horse boarding codes at their June meeting.

In fact, the Board of Trustees did not instruct the Zoning Board to review the current boarding codes as they were incorrectly advised, but instead they were to address a petition for amendment to those codes submitted in May by a resident.  The Village Board itself makes no schedule for hearing of such petitions by the ZBA.   

Mary Dickson, the attorney assigned to the Zoning Board, later, after executive session, apologized for the miscommunication to the ZBA.  Mr. Kosin, however, chose so sit in silence, as usual. 

The Zoning Board report and discussion can be heard here, and according to the Village calendar, the Zoning Board will be holding a hearing on the text amendment petition on July 18th.

The next scheduled meeting of the Board of Trustees is on July 21st.

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Audio recordings from the May 23rd monthly meeting of the Village Board of Trustees are available for review on the Village website.  To access the menu of edited recordings by agenda topic, click here.

Two residents made public comments at the beginning of the two hour and fifteen minute meeting.  Both comments were related to the board’s agenda item to discuss the Target Shooting Ordinance, and those can be heard here.

The Finance report lasted over half an hour, with few noteworthy actions or revelations to report.  Most of the banter seemed to be from some members of the board who like to hear themselves talk.  A perfect example of this was Trustee Gohl’s questioning of a legal bill for ten (10) dollars.

To improve productivity during future financial discussions, it was suggested that trustees provide questions on specific invoices via email to the village treasurer in advance of the meetings so that immediate answers can be provided regarding the nature of specific invoices.  The recording of the full finance report can be heard here.

The Roads & Bridges report revealed that the Cuba Road Bridge reconstruction project is not only delayed, but it is now over budget.  Dan Strahan, Village Engineer, of Gewalt Hamilton introduced an amendment to the original resolution for the cost overrun, but when asked how much it was going to be, Strahan did not have an immediate answer for the trustees he sought approval from. 

When asked what caused the increase in costs, Strahan stated it was due to the improper relocation of utility lines that led to the delays in construction (which we’ve reported on previously).  Strahan was questioned, primarily by Trustee Konicek-Hannigan, as to who was responsible for the misplaced utility lines. 

The engineer indicated that AT&T, Comcast, ComEd and Nicor determine the location of the new lines based on the plans for the new bridge.  However it brings into question why Gewalt Hamilton did not inspect that the work was properly done last fall before Cuba Road was closed and the existing bridge removed.   It also makes one wonder how all four utilities followed the engineering plans and somehow put their lines in the wrong place.

It was only with the assistance of the village clerk and others present was it was then determined that Village’s share of the bridge cost overrun will be over $23,000 (IDOT is funding 80% of the costs of the bridge reconstruction).  Given little choice, considering the bridge must be completed, the board approved the resolution, with only Trustee Gohl voting no, and Trustee Harrington abstaining.  The recording of this discussion can be heard here.

Trustees then approved the 2016 Roads Program (heard here) with the addition of a portion of River Road slated for next year, as a result of lower asphalt prices available this year.

 Also, a draft of a request for proposal for engineering services (seen here) was distributed by President McLaughlin for review by the board.  Once comments and changes have been submitted, it will be sent out for bid later this year.  Considering we may be facing another bridge issue on Old Hart Road, perhaps emphasis on bridge projects related to utility relocation expertise should be placed as a high qualification.

The discussion of the Target Shooting Ordinance revealed there are a total of five permits currently active in the Village.  One is held by the Barrington Hills Country Club for limited skeet shooting and four have been issued to private residences — one of which seems to have become a problem with some neighbors.  That discussion can be heard here.

The Building & Zoning report revealed that a new proposed text amendment to horse boarding codes was submitted in May.  President McLaughlin described what he hoped the process would be for review by various Village bodies as can be heard here.

Attorney Patrick Bond informed the board that the Cook County State’s Attorney determined that their budget process did not violate the Open Meetings Act as a member of the prior administration had alleged.  Bond’s comments can be heard here, and he indicated that another complaint, presumably from the same source, was forthcoming.

The meeting ended with President McLaughlin making re-appointments to the Heritage & Environs Committee, and an update on improving the Village’s website using outside professional resources.  The administration report can be heard here.

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