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VBH__LogoThe ePacket agenda containing links to documents to be discussed during Tuesday evening’s Village Board meeting has been posted.  To access the ePacket link, click here.

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The documents to be discussed during Monday evening’s Zoning Board of Appeals meeting have been posted by the Village.  A PDF copy can be viewed and downloaded here.

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audio_tape_revox_pr99-203 Audio recordings from the February 21st Meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals have been posted to the Village website. To access the main menu of recordings edited by agenda topic, click here.

The meeting began with a public hearing for a special use permit for expansion of an existing artificial lake at 153 Algonquin Road.  Several neighbors expressed concerns about potential impacts to their properties.  The hearing was followed by  a unanimous vote to recommend the special use permit to the Board of Trustees.  The hearing can be heard here.

The next agenda item had been scheduled to be a vote on the special use permit for a proposed boathouse for a residence on Hawley Lake, which had been the subject of a public hearing in January. Chairman Dan Wolfgram informed the ZBA that the petitioner’s request had been withdrawn.

Discussion then turned to a number of topics that the ZBA had begun to consider at last month’s meeting and had determined merited future deliberation.  Village Administrator Bob Kosin began with a description of the process by which a zoning complaint may be registered with the village, and then reviewed the staff procedures to review the complaint and determine if a violation had occurred.  True to form, Kosin’s explanation was difficult to follow at times due to his “unique” style.  Kosin’s narrative can be heard here.

Next, the board considered the matter of who can submit an application for a text amendment to the village’s zoning code.  In recent years, a somewhat vague part of our code has been interpreted to allow any resident potentially affected, directly or indirectly by a zoning matter, to be able to propose a text amendment change.  In the case of commercial horse boarding, this lead to numerous dueling proposals which took up an inordinate amount of the ZBA’s time, not to mention taxpayer money.  Members seemed to be in agreement that a better process might be for residents first to bring up their suggested amendment changes with either a Board of Trustees member or a ZBA member.  The topic was referred to the ZBA’s trustee liaison Colleen Konicek-Hannigan who will present the idea for discussion at an upcoming BOT meeting. That section of the discussion can be heard here.

The ZBA also mulled over the need for either a special use permit or special event permit for residences which play host to numerous and/or large private charitable events.  Members felt that charity events are a hallmark of the generosity of the community, and any efforts to create a more formal permitting process should not be done with the idea to curtail or discourage such events.  As is the case with many issues debated by the ZBA, a balance between the individual property rights of one resident must be balanced with the neighbors’ rights to peaceful enjoyment of their homes. Members decided that they should begin attempting to draft language for review at a future meeting. That portion of the dialogue can be accessed directly by clicking this link.

Finally, Zoning Board members considered the pros and cons of regulating the length of time that contractors’ advertising signs might be allowed to be displayed at a home, and whether or not there needs to be a limit placed on the height of building structures.  Those topics may be found beginning here.

 

 

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The Zoning Board of Appeals will meet on Tuesday February 21st at 6:30 p.m.  Items on the agenda include a public hearing for a special use permit for expansion of a pond  at residence at 153 Algonquin Road, and a vote on the special use permit for a boat house at 61 Otis Road.  The public hearing on the boat house permit was conducted last month.

To see the full agenda and related packet materials, click here .

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audio_tape_revox_pr99-203Audio recordings from the January 23rd meeting of the Board of Trustees are available on the Village website.  To access the full menu of recordings, click here .

During the Finance report, Village Treasurer Peggy Hirsch reported that for 2016 the village collected more than budgeted, and also spent less than budgeted. The preliminary unaudited savings is roughly $175,000. In 2016, budgeted expenditures were about $7.877 million, with $7.7 million having actually been spent. 2017’s budget is $7.579 million, with the tax levy set at $5.314 million, reduced from the 2016 levy of $6.191 million. President McLaughlin remarked on these positive accomplishments by the Board, and noted if school districts, townships and library districts would follow suit in better fiscal management as the village has, all areas of our property tax bills would go down. That section of the recording can be heard here .

The Treasurer also reported on the Police Pension Board (PPB) and remarked that the Pension Board has finally put out a Request For Proposal (RFP) for investment services, after years of their investments managed by the current firm lagging significantly behind the established benchmarks. Six RFPs have been received and the PPB will be reviewing the firms.

Trustee Colleen Konicek Hannigan reported that the $25,000 fine for violation of the Home Occupation Ordinance at a residence of Saville Row has been paid to the Village, which is the largest fine that has been collected by Barrington Hills for such a violation.

Kenneth Garrett from B & F Code Services, who works for our Building Department, presented a summary of the status of the Village’s current building codes and standards for construction. Mr. Garrett explained how many of Barrington Hills’ codes are very outdated, with some dating back to 1979, and are woefully inaccurate and outdated, and not in compliance with contemporary state and local standards. His firm has proposed a full review of current code and adoption of a new updated building code which B&F will present at a future date. The board voted unanimously to approve B&F’s proposal.

An update on the status of the village’s opposition to Longmeadow Parkway (LMP) was presented during the Roads & Bridges report. On January 18th, President McLaughlin, Village Administrator Bob Kosin, Engineer Dan Strahan and Village Attorney Mary Dickson all met with members of the Kane County Department of Transportation (KDOT), including engineers and planners, and a representative of the Kane County State’s Attorneys’ office. During that meeting, the Village reiterated that Autumn Trail, as a private road, is not and has never been a village road, and that Barrington Hills takes exception to Kane County’s Declaration of Municipal Extension of Village Owned Road. Kane’s declaration would attempt to take over ownership of Autumn Trail from what they assert is village ownership so that KDOT may proceed with tree cutting and construction on Autumn Trail for the LMP project. McLaughlin explained that KDOT has again been informed that Barrington Hills does not accept Kane’s characterization of the way Autumn Trail’s original plat of survey was designated by the developer. It was repeated to KDOT that the Village has never maintained Autumn Trail in any way and plat designation was never accepted by the village.

According to Engineer Strahan, KDOT is still planning on letting for bids in March, but cannot proceed without the IDOT required certified right of way on Autumn Trail. Bob Kosin was directed to write a letter to the IDOT official in charge of certification to make it clear that KDOT’s declaration is not recognized by Barrington Hills.

McLaughlin, Kosin and Trustee Konicek also attended the McHenry County Council of Governments (McCOG) meeting on January 18th, and once again voted against McCOG’s proposed transportation agenda, casting a negative vote with regard to LMP and rejecting the “widening” of Route 62/Algonquin Road.

After seven minutes of discussion, Trustee Fritz Gohl piped up, saying “I’m sure this is a stupid question, but I don’t care” (which pretty much summarizes Gohl’s long tenure on the Board of Trustees). Gohl asked, “is it too late to change the designation of Autumn Trail (to a village road)?” After explanation again by the village engineer, it was painfully obvious that Gohl had no understanding (as had just been described at length) that a change in the municipal designation would essentially green-light KDOT to take over right-of-way on Autumn Trail, and could also likely set a precedent for village responsibility of all private roads, thereby making taxpayers liable for future maintenance and repaving. Gohl’s brilliant thoughts can be heard here .

Next the Board turned its attention to a Resolution to Accept a Plat of Easement for Road Purposes for the Barrington Hills Farm (BHF) parcel located at the corner of Church and Chapel Roads. Trustee Michelle Maison summed up the confusion of the board about the return of this issue when she stated, “What is this?” The Village had previously voted to accept a plat of dedication, prepared by BHF, for the southeastern portion of Church Road where two driveway entrances for their proposed HARPS facility will be located. After acceptance of the dedication by the village (Resolution 16-24) in September 2016 and approval of a second driveway cut in, the property owner changed his mind and decided that he didn’t want to dedicate of the right of way to the village after all and wanted to do an easement instead.

President McLaughlin shared his frustration about the 180 degree switch in BHF’s position, asking “How many times can we say yes?” Trustee Konicek agreed and also expressed her displeasure with the attitude of the property owner who has sent multiple accusatory letters insinuating that the Village was somehow trying stall the HARPS facility. Trustee Maison asked for further clarification of the reason for the easement, the purpose of which seem to be trying to limit what the village could possibly do to the roadway in the future. Maison asked if this meant that any village property owner who currently provides the village with a prescriptive easement could demand a plat of easement with attached conditions.

Konicek also expressed deep concern about giving preferential property rights to the owner of an unincorporated non-residential property whose driveway happens to be on a village-maintained road over the rights of actual village residents. The proposed easement attempts to dictate what the roadway speed limit could be on that section of road, what the roadway weight limits could be, and to require special advance notifications if equipment would be needed on the side of the road for emergency repairs. She was also concerned about giving special treatment to a non-taxpaying entity. Maison was troubled about setting a precedent for other property owners coming forward and making similar demands, and suggested that the board not even vote on the easement.

McLaughlin characterized the entire situation as a unnecessary political show which has now become expensive to the village.  McLaughlin suggested constructing a document which would grant the property owner a second driveway cut, but would not include binding terms upon the village. The Village Engineer explained that he had originally recommended the easement due to  the overall construction project being well beyond the scope of just a single family residence. Strahan also explained that BHF does not currently even have a building permit from McHenry County, and the Village’s approval of the second driveway is only one of six issues that BHF still has to resolve before the County could issue them a permit to proceed.

At that point in the meeting, the Board voted 4-3 to table a vote on the easement, with Croll, Gohl and Harrington voting no. Trustee Harrington asked if there would be a risk to the village if the easement were not accepted, and if the property owner could revoke the prescriptive easement that currently exists. Attorney Dickson explained that there would be no risk and, logically, no property owner would want to revoke a prescriptive easement because the owner would then have to assume all responsibility for maintenance of that section of road.

Harrington then stated that the current property owners have a plan for the land which is dramatically better than proposed Duda development, and he gets the sense that the owners do not have a very trusting relationship with the village, and that the village should have a more welcoming attitude towards them and should be more encouraging to have them come back into the village.

Konicek again expressed her offense to the repeated accusatory correspondence that the BHF property owner has sent to the village which has incorrectly insinuated that the village is intentionally stalling the HARPS facility. She also asked Harrington if he does have knowledge of plans for the 600 acre property beyond the 21 acre HARPS facility then he should share it with the rest of the Board. Harrington was conspicuously mute. President McLaughlin went on to describe several meetings that he and the village staff have had with the property owner regarding possible re-annexation, but no petition to annex has been received since their last conversation in October.

Trustee Brian Croll stated that some elements of the proposed dedication are acceptable to him, and some are not particularly those elements that are left to the discretion and approval of the property owner. He felt that those items should be removed from any new agreement.

Attorney Dickson stated that at a future meeting, the board needs to repeal the September 2016 resolution for the dedication of the plat that the property owner had subsequently revoked.

The lengthy discussion ended with a request for Dickson to construct a new dedication of easement with input from the trustees for terms that would be more amenable to the village, and then return discussion of the easement to the Roads & Bridges Committee.

The Barrington Hills Farm easement discussion begins here. (Note:  The BHF easement document was not linked in the meeting’s posted e-Packet and apparently was not made available to the Board until shortly before the meeting.)

Lastly, in the Administrative portion of the meeting, McLaughlin refuted an Algonquin Township candidate’s website which erroneously advertised an endorsement by him. McLaughlin stated that neither he nor the village is not an endorser of any specific candidate in any township race, whether in Algonquin, Cuba or Dundee Townships. He went on to say that the village absolutely supports the services we have received from those entities, but it is unfair to be listed as an endorser of a specific candidate. He urges residents to do their own homework and research, and then chose the person who would best represent them, from both an economic and a service perspective. Those comments can be heard here .

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audio_tape_revox_pr99-203Audio recordings from the January 17th Zoning Board of Appeals meeting are available for review on the Village website.  Board members had two items on their agenda that evening.

The first item on the agenda was a review of possible agenda topics that the ZBA could take up for consideration at future meetings. Board members were in general agreement that they should at least engage in public discussion and review at a later time to determine:

  • if special use permits should be required for events being held on private properties, as has been suggested in the past by ZBA member David Stieper.
  • if only elected or appointed officials should be allowed to file proposals for zoning text amendments. Currently any village resident can file a text amendment for consideration. Concerns were expressed that continuing with present system could result in excessive expenditure of village resources.
  • if regulation of structure heights should be added to the zoning code. Currently there are floor area ratio and setback restrictions, but heights are not addressed.
  • if new regulations should determine the status of advertising signs put up by building and or landscape contractors on properties where they are currently performing work. Some of these signs tend to almost be permanent fixtures.
  • what are the village’s procedures for follow up of identified zoning violations. Although enforcement is not the role of the ZBA, members expressed a need for clarification of the steps and process by which the Village addresses violations.

The second item on the ZBA agenda was the public hearing for a special use permit for construction of a boathouse for a residence at 61 Otis Road. The construction of the boathouse and pier would project into Hawley Lake, which is privately owned by adjacent homeowners. Testimony was heard from the project’s architect and the applicant homeowner, as well as from neighboring homeowners and the legal representative for three other homeowners who were in opposition to the project.

Concerns were voiced about the blocking of unobstructed lake views, disruption of the neighborhood’s serenity, disruption of the lake’s ecology and and long-maintained natural setting. Neighbors feared that approval of this permit would create a precedent for construction of other boathouses along the lake’s shores, forever changing the character of Hawley Lake.

Although the project seemed, for the most part, to comply technically with the Village’s zoning requirements, members of ZBA expressed concerns about superseding the neighborhood’s homeowner association (HOA) which has a long, albeit informal, tradition of maintaining minimal development and construction around the shared lake.

The ZBA’s attorney, Mary Dickson, advised the ZBA that the HOA can do nothing to prevent this project on their own because the HOA doesn’t have bylaws, hasn’t held an associational meeting, nor is one required. As a result, it is her opinion that it is solely up to the ZBA to determine if this special use is appropriate, and if it should recommend approval to the Board of Trustees.

During deliberations, members of the Zoning Board continued to be troubled about approving the special use permit without having the affirmation of the neighbors, and they expressed a strong desire for the applicants to meet with HOA and neighbors to see if they could work out a new boathouse plan which could satisfy all parties.

The ZBA voted unanimously to continue the consideration of the special use permit until their February 21st meeting.

The standard menu of edited recordings by topic from the meeting is currently not available, but readers may access the recordings at the village’s archiving source by clicking here

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The Observer takes a look back at another year gone by, as we present the most frequently read news stories and editorials for 2016. Click on any title to read and revisit stories from this past year.

August 30th Zoning Board public hearing recordings published

Our most read and most commented upon story of 2016, this article summarized the August 30th Zoning Board meeting which concluded the public hearings on the latest text amendment proposal for commercial horse boarding codes.

WARNING: Beware of phantom developers!

This story discussed a fear-mongering letter that was mailed to residents throughout the  village, containing unsubstantiated claims of Barrington Hills once again being imperiled by greedy developers.

Why Anderson II must go

In October, the Observer reviewed the myriad of flaws in the Anderson II commercial boarding ordinance and explained the importance of reinstating boarding under the Home Occupation Ordinance.

There they go again

Despite the misinformation repeated at many recent meetings, archived Village Board minutes from 1960 show that village leaders then did not approve of commercial equestrian activities on residential properties, having shut down a riding school for being in violation of village code.  This feature also drew the second most comments of any story for 2016.

June Village Board Meeting Recordings Released

Our review of the Board of Trustees June meeting covered several topics, but focused primarily on the ongoing delays with the reconstruction of the Cuba Road Bridge (now known as Veteran’s Crossing Bridge).  The article highlighted the lack of proper oversight of the project by Gewalt Hamilton, as well as some confusing explanations of the situation by Village Administrator Bob Kosin.

Here we go again

As the Zoning Board of Appeals was about to begin a review of the commercial horse boarding code, the Observer dispelled a long list of oft-repeated fallacies, fictions and lies concerning equestrian activities and horse boarding in this column from July.

Candidates file for April 2017 Village Elections

The title speaks for itself in this most recent top story, highlighting the high level of resident interest in our village government.

Park District to begin charging user fees for Riding Center

The July announcement by the Park District of its intention to set up a fee structure for resident and n0n-resident users of the Riding Center drew a large audience.

Documents added to ZBA horse boarding code hearing package

In the days leading up to the August 30th ZBA meeting, readers were eager to review the 291 pages of documentation that had been submitted to the Zoning Board in the form of court documents, resident and Village official emails, affidavits, Village engineering and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency reports and form letters.

 

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