Archive for the ‘Special Use Permits’ Category

Audio recordings from the October 17th regular monthly meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals held at Countryside Elementary School have been posted to the Village website.  The link to the menu of recordings edited by agenda topic can be accessed here.

Six people made public comments, though three of them were allowed to speak twice, causing the public comment portion of the agenda to last about 45 minutes (and since the chair was very liberal when it came to the traditional 3 minute time limit per comment).

The developer of Barrington Hills Farm (BHF) was the first to ask to speak for a second time, but before he began his additional remarks, the chair asked him a question:

“In a letter you sent out to the entire village a month or two ago [seen here], in the letter there’s a statement that ‘some months ago a clique of area residents, a clique of area residents associated with high density housing development initiated a subtle but strategic campaign to defeat and dismantle the statutory defenses that preserve the character of the village of Barrington Hills.’  What were you talking about?”

The speaker replied, “There is a [sic] intentional direction at undermining and changing the village’s comprehensive plan.  To change the comprehensive plan will change the density allowances for construction going forward.”

When asked for further definition of specifically whom the speaker was referring to in his letter, after some obfuscation he stated, “I’m not one for circulating misinformation.  I will document it.”

We’re looking forward to it, as we’re confident our readers do as well.  In the meantime, we highly recommend readers listen to this candid exchange by clicking here.

The second resident to speak twice (and who also happens to be involved in the BHF development) offered to answer the chair’s question.  He stated:

“The question as I understood it, and I think it is a legitimate question, is basically is there a group that is trying to change the comprehensive plan, and are they meeting.  And I can tell you categorically yes they are meeting, and here’s the change that is contemplated.

The change, and this is documented in written communications that’s been sent out on The Observer, which I think you write [apparently referring to one of the ZBA members], and in other publications, that basically we want to alter the characterization of Barrington Hills from an equestrian community to a residential community.

Now, as Mr. Stieper knows, and as probably everyone on the board knows, changing that characterization from an equestrian community, which has been embedded in the comprehensive plan since the beginning of Barrington Hills, and as I said at a previous meeting, uh,  I was there at the start with the founder of Barrington Hills as an equestrian community.”

We recommend readers listen to this speaker’s full remarks as well as his dialog with board members by clicking here.

We also look forward to his commitment to follow up on his statements with documentation, particularly as they relate to Barrington Hills comprehensive plans.  A searchable copy of the 1978 Comprehensive Plan that was in place for 27 years can be viewed and downloaded here, however it is devoid of anything remotely substantiating his claims.

Prior to the chair closing public comment, a ZBA member questioned the clerk regarding the procedure for timely inclusion of written comments in document packets to board members prior to meetings, since one submitted the morning of the meeting was excluded, yet another from that afternoon from the BHF developer was.  The recording of that exchange can be heard here.

Recordings of all public comments made that night can be heard by clicking here, however, the first speaker is nearly inaudible.

When public comment concluded, the board began nearly two hours of discussion regarding the proposal to repeal Anderson II/LeCompte Anderson codes and revert back to Home Occupation Ordinance oversight of horse boarding facilities as an interim step before pursuing brand new codes addressing all scales of facilities in Barrington Hills.

The chair seemed to follow a rather “belt and suspenders” path throughout the discussion sometimes asking the same question of members two times.  Perhaps he considers this being thorough, but in no instance did he receive a different response to the second question than from the first.

Member Stieper provided his thoughts when asked about the deficiencies in the Anderson II language after which he asked Bob Kosin, Village Administrator, for his opinion regarding his account, particularly as it related to Floor Area Ratio codes for the primary residence on a property versus an accessory structure such as a boarding barn.

Kosin stated, “The floor area requirements are, ah, are established and they do reflect a residential basis and they’re cumulative.  So essentially what you are, um, saying is that the existing bulk regulations, the existing bulk regulations, do not give you sufficient guidelines to regulate what you’re attempting to address as large-scale commercial boarding. 

So you have a use before you and you have a series of tools in the tool box, in the zoning tool box, and the existing standards, whether it be setback, or the floor area ratio, is insufficient as a matter of right to curtail some type of jeopardy to the adjoining property owners or the community as a whole.”

Granted, we are not fully fluent in “Kosin-speak,” however we believe we understand what he is politically treading lightly on with his response as we illustrated in, “Why Anderson II must go.”  Mr. Kosin’s remarks can be heard here.

When the roll was called two of the five Zoning Board members present voted against advancing the proposal to repeal Anderson II and three voted in favor.  A public hearing on the matter when testimony will be under oath was then scheduled for November 9th at Countryside Elementary School beginning at 6:30 PM.

The agenda and documentation will be published here when available prior to the meeting.

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Following 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.

August 2011 Village Board minutes posted – 2011

Excerpt from ZBA report: “Three members of the Zoning Board of Appeals, Judith Freeman, Karen Rosene and Kurt Anderson, joined the Board of Trustees in the discussion of commercial boarding.  Ms. Freeman submitted a draft ordinance document regarding commercial boarding and wanted comments back from the Board of Trustees. The ZBA has proposed suggested [sic] a Special Use Permit if boarding ten or more horses.

Trustee Messer felt the Village has no overcrowding issue and we should address the issue when it comes up.  Trustee Meroni felt a Special Use Permit was an unnecessary burden.   Trustee Selman stated that horse boarding should be under Home Occupation.” (see Flip, Flop : What changed your minds Trustees Messer, Meroni and Selman?)

Complete minutes from the August 2011 Village Board meeting 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.

Glimpses back in time at the heritage of Barrington Hills – 2015

VBH Area Map Circa 1940In the years since The Observer began, we’ve been fortunate enough to accumulate some information on the rich history that occurred before and after Barrington Hills was officially incorporated in 1957.  Today seemed to be an appropriate time to share what we’ve discovered with our readers in advance of the third annual Barrington Hills Heritage Fest taking place tomorrow.

Some time ago, a reader shared a map with us depicting what life was like in this area in 1940, and it’s quite a unique contrast from the village we now live in today.

Revisit this well-read article from last year by here.

To settle, or not to settle, that is (not) the question – 2015

We’ve had the opportunity to listen to the recordings from the September 23rd Special Village Board Meeting to hear public comment on whether to settle a suit filed against the Village over the Recent Commercial Horse Boarding code amendment.  Additionally, we’ve read all the published written comments which were submitted (seen here).

Thirty-nine people provided comments for the board to review.  None of them criticized horses, nor did they call for banning boarding in Barrington Hills.  No one called for existing horse boarding operations to be shuttered, and not one complaint was voiced against a neighboring barn, so it’s fair to say current boarding operations (save for one) are not in peril in Barrington Hills based on this small sampling.

Read the original Observer editorial here.

-The Observer

*See “WARNING: Beware of phantom developers!” for more on this year’s Halloween costume of choice among Barrington Hills youths.

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Dear Neighbors and Friends,

We hope this editorial finds you and your family in good health and enjoying the fall in Barrington Hills, because if the Anderson II horse boarding and training codes remain in effect much longer, those pleasures may become a thing of the past.

Anderson II (or as we’ve termed it, LeCompte/Anderson) established a privileged class of properties within our Village with zoning code variances available to anyone boarding horses, whether it’s one or dozens.  We’ve chronicled that before in these pages (see “Our views on the latest horse boarding text amendment proposal”), but the most flagrant flaw is that now the largest structure on any Barrington Hills property can be a barn, not the primary residence, as has been the tradition for decades.

To illustrate how far just this one loophole can be taken, we found a 5.01-acre property actively on the market in the unincorporated Barrington area as an example:


Anderson II proponents will be the first to claim this would never happen, or if it did, it would be extremely rare, but sensible zoning codes are enacted to protect residents from exceptions such as this, and that is what our Zoning Board is currently considering.

Despite the many flaws in Anderson II, there are some in our community who have been lead to believe its repeal will mean the end of horse boarding entirely in Barrington Hills, or at least they claim that’s the intent of the Zoning and Village Boards. It is NOT. 

If this were true, why did the current administration approve a twenty-year extension of the special use permit for polo matches, including the Kalaway Cup, at Oakwood Farm?  This administration also approved construction of recently debated indoor and outdoor polo fields at the corner of Algonquin and Old Sutton Roads.

Ever since the Zoning Board began considering a petition to amend horse boarding codes earlier this summer, there has been a flurry of direct mail, blog postings and social media campaigns intended to stir up the equestrian community, and others, within and outside our community.

In addition, one seemingly well-funded resident sent a book with pretty pictures and stickers to residents for no apparent reason other than to confuse matters further.  We will tackle that in a future piece, but this unsolicited gesture has most residents we know scratching their heads wondering why it was sent and for what purpose other than political. 

If these campaigns have served any purpose, it’s to confuse residents.  People who have backyard boarding businesses have been led to believe they will be shut down in favor of large-scale boarding operations that threaten their businesses, while large-scale boarding operators believe the opposite is true.  From what we’ve witnessed, neither is true.

We understand how some horse owners can get emotionally charged whenever changes are being considered that may or may not affect them.  There’s no denying, some are so passionate about their horses, it’s almost an obsession, and there’s actually a term for it – Hippomania.

At one time, or throughout one’s life, we all can become passionate about something.   We will defend anyone’s right to be passionate about horses, so long as they don’t impose it on neighbors and friends, which is exactly what Anderson II enables.

We also don’t condone these people being manipulated and misled by fellow equestrians, politicians and developers, and it appears that is exactly what is occurring again in our community, much the same as when people were told polo matches would end during the last election campaign (see “Polo politicking – SOS Party style”).

Yes, the Zoning Board of Appeals is considering recommending repealing the Anderson II codes and reinstating the Home Occupation Ordinance (HOO), as the most recent mailing to the proletariat from a “Neighbor and Friend” on a hilltop stated (a copy can be viewed here). 

What was purposely omitted from that communique is the board is doing this as a temporary measure to get the exposure Anderson II has created off the books, so that sound and equitable codes can be drafted to protect the interests of all residents.   

Considering the integrity demonstrated by those now serving on the current Zoning Board, this seems to be the fair and proper direction to pursue, and we believe the quiet majority of residents agree.

-The Observer

Editor’s note:  Anyone wishing to listen to the audio recordings of recent Zoning Board meetings can do so by accessing our archive of releases by clicking here.


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Partial audio recordings* from the Sept. 20th Zoning Board of Appeals meeting at Countryside Elementary School are available for review, however the quality of the recordings is very poor.  This likely contributed to the fact that the only recording available is the meeting in its entirety, and not edited by meeting agenda topic.

The meeting began with member David Stieper withdrawing his motion from the August 30th meeting.  He stated he was doing so “for the sake of simplicity.”  From what we can gather, the better path was to vote on the amendment before them as originally proposed, and not amend it, as Stieper had previously moved.

In the discussion that ensued, it appears the direction some on the Zoning Board wished to pursue was twofold:

  • Restore boarding codes to pre-2015 language, or the Home Occupation Ordinance, and
  • Draft new codes based on historical information already gathered and new information available

One member stated they had reviewed the “Anderson II”/”LeCompte/Anderson” language and stated the longer it stays on the books the more problematic it may become due to multiple “loopholes” and “ambiguities” in the drafting. 

Another member chose to take the matter entirely away from the topic of horse boarding when they stated, “I think what it comes down to is, are we a residential community or a commercial community?  I think everyone sitting here would agree first, and foremost, we are a residential community.”

We strongly encourage readers to listen to his full remarks on the matter by clicking here.

Multiple members also concurred that smaller or “backyard” boarding operations should be left alone for the most part, as should most of the larger scale “commercial” boarding businesses.

After an hour (as measured by the recording) of discussion, member Stieper made a fairly detailed motion to effectively repeal the current, newly enacted horse boarding codes and revert back to the Home Occupation Ordinance management of boarding.  His motion can be heard here.

Once his motion was seconded, he handed out printed copies of new language for the board to review before their next meeting in October.  This contrasts greatly with what occurred at the September 2014 Zoning Board meeting when a new amendment draft (Anderson II) was distributed and voted upon at the same meeting, before some board members had an adequate opportunity to review and consider it.

To access the recording of the full meeting, click here.

The Zoning Board will meet on October 17th at 6:30 PM at Countryside Elementary School to discuss this latest proposed horse boarding amendment.

*According to the Village website, only a portion of the meeting was recorded, presumably due to some technical malfunction.  The recording of the unanimous vote to not accept the proposed Drury commercial horse boarding text amendment apparently was among the missing recordings.

Perhaps since some of the recordings are barely audible at times, the Village might consider publishing the transcript of the meeting at some future date.  

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Friday FlashbackFollowing are some of the articles published by The Observer for the month of September 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.

Appellate court sides with Barrington Hills on horse boarding issue – 2011

The village of Barrington Hills has the authority to regulate horse boarding on residential property, according to a recent appellate court ruling that could end at least one part of three-year legal fight over a local horse farm.

Barrington Hills residents Cathleen and Benjamin LeCompte sued the village last year, challenging its jurisdiction over their Oakwood Farms, located on a residentially zoned 130-acre site along Bateman Road.

The couple appeared before Barrington Hills’ zoning board of appeals in August 2008, arguing that the operation — which features a barn large enough to house 60 horses and 110 acres of riding space — is an agricultural use outside the village’s ability to regulate. The zoning board disagreed, and a Cook County court later sided with the village.

Read the full Daily Herald article here.

Zoning Board approves horse boarding text amendment – 2014

The Zoning Board of Appeals met last Thursday evening to discuss, and possibly recommend, one of four horse boarding text amendment proposals that they had heard testimony and public comment on during previous meetings.  By the end of the meeting, the board narrowly approved a text amendment, but it was not one of the four that had been previously been heard by the board and had never before been made available to residents for comment.

Read the original Observer commentary with 33 reader comments here.

Barrington Hills board debates horse boarding plan – 2014

Barrington Hills trustees sent a controversial horse boarding plan back to the village’s zoning board Monday night for clarification on 11 points before they take a vote.

The board’s action came after more than 2½ hours of public comment and board discussion before a large group of residents in the Countryside Elementary School gymnasium.

Critics of the plan, which would allow landowners to board three horses for each acre of property, said it did not receive the proper scrutiny of the zoning board.

Revisit one of the most commented stories ever here.

So why is the Village being sued (again) over commercial horse boarding? – 2015

The simple answer to the question of why we’re being sued is that some elected and appointed Village officials put us in this position last December when they approved a commercial horse boarding amendment to our code which clearly favored one party over another in a private lawsuit that did not involve our Village.

In order to fully understand the rationale behind the suit, residents need to understand the history of one commercial horse boarding operation in the Village that has, in our opinion, consumed an inordinate amount of time, energy and taxpayers’ money for too long now.

Read or revisit the full Observer editorial with reader comments here.

Commercial horse boarding amendment commentary – 2015

When you get right down to brass tacks, the seven of you are called upon to decide whether 5-acre residential zoning standards will be the “only consideration” concerning “development” and “use” on parcels of land in Barrington Hills zoned R-1 (5 acres) or will these residential zoning standards take a “back seat” to commercial enterprise when this enterprise takes the form of “horse boarding for a fee”; on any scale; large or small?

Read this guest essay from a year ago here.

* * * * * * * * *

Editor’s note: Since 2009, 223 articles have been categorized with a reference tag of “Commercial Horse Boarding” including this one in The Observer.

By any measure, this is far too many, and it is our fervent hope the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Board of Trustees can finally come to an agreement in the near future on regulations for horse boarding that all residents can live with for decades to come.  This semi-annual (and sometimes annual) unnecessary dispute between residents is a senseless waste of time and energy, and only serves to continue to divide our community.

-The Observer

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The Zoning Board of Appeals will be meeting to continue their discussions and likely vote on proposed text amendments to horse boarding and training codes this evening beginning at 6:30 PM at Countryside Elementary School.  A copy of the agenda can be viewed here.

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Friday FlashbackFollowing are some of the articles published by The Observer for the months of July and 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.

Village Board considering ZBA proposal on horse boarding – July 2011

ZBA chair Judith Freeman presented a proposal to address horse boarding codes in the Village at the July BOT meeting.  President Abboud deferred discussion/comment by the board of the ZBA proposal until the August BOT meeting to allow time for trustees to further consider the proposal.

The ZBA proposal calls for any property owner that boards ten (10) horses or more within the Village on R-1 properties to be classified as “Commercial” and residents boarding nine (9) or fewer horses would be allowed to conduct their businesses under the “Home Occupation Ordinance.”

The proposal can be viewed here.

Another blame game – July 2012

Monday evening the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) discussed public comments on the commercial horse boarding amendment to the Home Occupation Ordinance (HOO). During that meeting several members of the ZBA, most notably Chairperson Judith Freeman and Kurt Anderson, expressed their condescending opinions that residents who opposed the amendment failed to understand it.  Anderson, quoted in the Daily Herald cited what he called “a campaign of both disinformation and misinformation.”

Anderson is somewhat correct, as there has been an ongoing campaign to obfuscate the entire issue of expanding commercial boarding within Barrington Hills.  But the campaign is not being waged by opponents of commercial activity; it is being waged by our own Village leadership and administration.  And, it is a campaign of distraction, misinformation and spin.

Read the original editorial and comments here.

Our views on two horse boarding amendment proposals – July 2014

The Zoning Board of Appeals will conduct a public hearing Monday, July 21st  at 7:30 PM at Countryside School related to two proposed horse boarding text amendment proposals* submitted earlier this month.

Last week, The Observer summarized some of the highlights of the two proposals, such as hours of operations and allowable horse population (seeJuly 21 Zoning Board Public Hearing announced”). We have also commented on the apparent conflicts of interests stemming, in part, from these proposals.   Additional scrutiny of the proposals has led to some very troubling questions and discoveries.

The original article can be read here.

Deer Park board votes to withdraw from BACOG – July 2015

The Deer Park Village Board voted to end their membership in the Barrington Area Council of Governments (BACOG) during their last monthly meeting held on Monday, July 20th, by a vote of 4-1.

At their June meeting, the Deer Park board questioned Janet Agnoletti, Executive Director of BACOG, on a number of issues, including the way membership dues were determined among the various members.  Specifically, one board member questioned why the Deer Park share was so high, given the size and population of Deer Park in comparison to other BACOG members.

Read the original Observer article, including comments here.

Horse boarding continues to draw controversy in Barrington Hills – August 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.

Read more from the Chicago Tribune article here.

Why Barrington Hills must change – August 2014

In his WTTW documentary “Northwest of Chicago,” Geoffrey Baer quoted a local source who declared Barrington Hills, Barrington and South Barrington to be “North shore communities without the shore.”  This may have been true when the show first aired, but this is far from accurate today.

Read any recent real estate report on the average time on the market for homes in our area and you’ll find our Village bests all others for the wrong reasons.  Barrington Hills homes consistently have the longest time on the market and lead at the lowest sale price compared to the original asking price.  Home and lot values have plunged to prices not seen in over a decade.

Read more of the editorial, including comments, here.

Northwest Herald article misstates Longmeadow Parkway facts, polls readers – 2015

Today’s print and web-based editions of the Northwest Herald contain the same article published in the Kane County Chronicle Friday (see “Longmeadow Parkway project slated for 2016 start despite growing opposition”) regarding Barrington Hills’ opposition to the Longmeadow Parkway project.  Unfortunately, both articles, written by the same reporter, contain the following statement:

“After years of support, which included a successful 2006 advisory referendum, the Barrington Hills Village Board in June stated it now opposes the parkway.”

The Village of Barrington Hills has never posed a referendum question on any ballot pertaining to the Longmeadow Parkway project.

Read the original article and comments here.

-The Observer

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