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Audio recordings from the July 17th Meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals have been posted to the Village website, but the link is incorrect. To access the full meeting recording at Soundcloud, click 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 Chairman Dan Wolfgram informed the ZBA that the petitioner’s request had been withdrawn.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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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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Audio recordings from a special Zoning Board of Appeals public hearing on November 9th are available for review on the Village website.  The link to the menu of audio recordings edited by agenda topic can be accessed by clicking here.

The purpose of the meeting was to hear testimony from residents regarding a proposed change to zoning codes returning commercial horse boarding to the Home Occupation Ordinance temporarily to provide the Zoning Board members time to craft more appropriate codes than those in the 2015 Anderson II codes.

Residents spent about two hours providing testimony with varying opinions, both for and against, regarding reverting to the Home Occupation Ordinance.

The developer of Barrington Hills Farm in unincorporated McHenry County read a prepared statement, after which he was once again asked to document the “clique of area residents associated with high density commercial housing development,” he referred to in a letter to all Village residents last July (seen here).

Once again, this witness refused to provide that documentation as can be heard here, but listening closely to his initial response to the question, one can hear, ”There’s no documents.”

The balance of the testimony provided little new evidence the board hadn’t already heard since they began this process back in June.  The link to the beginning of the remarks can be accessed here.

The board spent about 45-minutes discussing the testimony they’d heard and expressing their own opinions regarding the Anderson II code and what should be done with it.  This was in addition to the nearly three hour meeting they’d held on October 17th covering this same topic.

One member referred to it as a “loaded gun sitting on a chair” on more than one occasion.  Others phrased their concerns over the Anderson II language differently, but ultimately the board voted 6-1 to recommend the Board of Trustees repeal Anderson II and reinstate Home Occupation Ordinance codes to manage horse boarding operations.

The recording of the discussion and vote can be accessed here.

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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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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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Audio recordings from the August 30th Zoning Board of Appeals public hearing regarding a text amendment proposal for horse boarding codes have been released.  The menu of recordings edited by agenda topic from the meeting can be accessed by clicking here.

This third and final hearing held by the Zoning Board on the matter included two hours and forty-five minutes of testimony.  Since this process began in July, the ZBA has heard a total of seven hours of testimony, including what can only be described as an hour of filibustering by the owner of Oakwood Farms at the end of the latest hearing.

Throughout this hearing process, board members have heard very few specific amendment recommendations related to the proposed text amendment, aside from, “It’s too restrictive” or “We don’t like it.” This provided little, if any, guidance for them to make changes to improve it.

As a matter of fact, not one person who testified suggested any modifications to the language itself.

However, board members also heard that the LeCompte/Anderson, or “Anderson II” codes are too liberal leaving neighbors with few, if any, options to protect their peace and privacy, especially should a new boarding and training facility be built next door without anyone asking of they would approve of such a facility.

But what was clearly evident is that many residents felt the Village had no business entertaining any petitions from residents who were currently involved in active court proceedings related to horse boarding.  A number of attorneys, whether residents, or those advising our Board of Trustees, consistently and strongly recommended that the Village not tamper with codes related to a private lawsuit.

Instead of heeding these cautions, the ZBA which was presiding in 2014 marginally approved the LeCompte/Anderson amendment, and then in 2015 by a majority of the Board of Trustees, including three trustees who are no longer on the board,  despite a presidential override of the ill-advised legislation.

Once it was confirmed that everyone who had wished to testify had had their say in the matter, the chair then adjourned the public hearing and opened the public meeting to entertain comments from the members of the Zoning Board.

There was one procedural question regarding the disposition of the amendment, and then about a twenty-minute recap of the history, both good and bad, behind the history of how Barrington Hills has handled, and mishandled, horse boarding zoning codes for over ten years was provided by David Stieper.

His commentary, opinions and citations of Village and court records can be heard here.  Once he concluded his remarks, Stieper then made the following motion:

“The Drury Amendment be adopted to the limited extent that the former Home Occupation Ordinance, which has served this Village so well in recent years, be fully reinstated into the Village Code, and that all other language in the Drury Amendment be rejected for now, and that all language in the Village Code constituting the 2014 Anderson II boarding amendment be rejected, removed from the code and held for naught.  In other words, I move that our Village Code as it relates to horse boarding be restored to that it was in year 2011.”

His motion was seconded, however due to the time limits on the use of the room, the discussion and vote was continued to the next meeting of the Zoning Board scheduled for September 20th at Countryside Elementary School at 6:30 PM.

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