Dimucci Says Family Went to County Because Property was ‘Stained’
The Lake County ZBA held first of several public hearings on the controversial rezoning from residential to commercial and PUD of land at Rte. 12 and Old McHenry Road.
The majority of the first Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) public hearing on rezoning and a Planned Unit Development, or PUD, for the Dimucci property was devoted to presentations by the petitioner, in a four-hour meeting that drew about 200 residents, July 18.
John Dimucci, his family, and attorney Mark Eiden presented their case for commercial rezoning and a PUD on their property. Dimucci told ZBA members that the 109-acre property, on the southeast corner of Rte. 12 and Old McHenry Road, has been in his family for three generations and it has jurisdictional issues, which has made it difficult to sell.
“The stain placed on the property would remain unless we were able to do something about it. We’re in the jurisdiction of Lake County; we’re here in hopes of more fair treatment . . . What we’re seeking became distorted; we’re seeking a zoning change with no particular buyer in mind. We cannot forecast what the uses will be.”
The lack of specificity about how the property will be developed was a primary concern for members of the Lake County Regional Planning Commission (RPC), which voted not to recommend the request, on July 11.
At the end of the Dimucci presentations, ZBA board members had about 20 minutes to question presenters. Both ZBA Chairman George Bell and ZBA member John Reindl expressed concern about the lack of detailed impact studies, in particular traffic studies.
Dimucci attorney, Eiden, said the ultimate use will dictate the traffic pattern, and traffic studies can’t be performed until a developer with a specific project comes forward.
Lake County Staff Recommends Dimucci Request
Eric Waggoner, director of planning, building and development for Lake County, pointed out in his opening statements that the Dimucci family approached the county for rezoning of the property from estate residential to general commercial. He said it was at the county’s direction that the Dimuccis request a PUD to ensure a quality development and tighter standards.
Waggoner also stated that the Dimuccis and the county are not bound by an Intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between Hawthorn Woods and North Barrington.
Waggoner said Lake County planning department staff is recommending approval of the Dimucci request based on three points:
- There is a trend toward commercial development on Rte. 12;
- Commercial infrastructure is available;
- Commercial development is compatible with the surrounding area.
Dimuccis Present Case for Commercial Development
John Dimucci’s remarks centered on his research into what is the best use of the property. He argued that the comprehensive plans for Hawthorn Woods, North Barrington and Barrington Area Council of Governments (BACOG) all call for commercial development on the site.
“They vary in shape, vary in size, but all agree the trend of development on this site is for commercial use,” he said.
Dimucci said there haven’t been any single-family residential developments on Rte. 12 in 20 years.
Mike Dimucci, brother to John, said that the PUD along with the Pattern Book, which dictates design standards, set the stage for a quality development.
Eiden told the ZBA that the owner has made many concessions. He said the PUD is usually a trading process, but that the owner in this case is asking for less density with increased standards. He said the Dimuccis were just interested in a zoning change, but agreed to the PUD.
Kim Lask of Marchris Engineering testified that the hydric soils on the property could bear a commercial development. She said Dominick’s in Lake Zurich is built on hydric soils. She also noted that Lake Zurich has agreed to provide sewer and water to the property.
Cara Mueller, sister to John and Mike Dimucci, testified to the open space commitment of the development, the impact on schools and property values.
Regarding open space, Eiden told the ZBA they were willing to make arrangements so that 51 percent open space would be guaranteed for perpetuity.
Mueller said a commercial development would bring revenue for School District 95 and other taxing bodies, without the burden of additional students.
Mueller brought real estate consultant Dick Broderick to explain his analysis of what impact the development would have on property values.
Broderick used the retail development in Deer Park and Kildeer as an example. He testified that his research showed the property value in the neighborhoods surrounding Deer Park and Kildeer retail developments were not negatively affected by the development.
John Dimucci ended the presentation by directing the public to the Dimucci family website.
ZBA Member Asked to Recuse Himself
The ZBA meeting started with a call by ACRE (Active Citizens for Responsible Expansion) representative Matt Lasusa for ZBA member Marvin Raymond to recuse himself, since he already voted in favor of the Dimucci request in his dual role as member and chairperson of the RPC. Lasusa also questioned the change in ZBA procedure for the Dimucci hearings, saying the new procedure had a “chilling effect” on the hearings, and asked the ZBA to postpone the meeting.
North Barrington attorney J. William Braithwaite and Hawthorn Woods attorney Dan Shapiro also asked Raymond to recuse himself.
“We want people with open minds, not somebody who has already decided,” Shapiro said.
George Bell, ZBA chairperson, said the meeting would not be postponed nor would Raymond be asked to recuse himself.
“I have been on this board for 12 years. This is the biggest meeting ever. The changes in rules were made to have a more orderly meeting, not to intimidate anyone at all,” Bell said.
Raymond said there is a difference in the roles of the RPC and the ZBA with the RPC looking at the regional nature of the proposal and the ZBA considering the specific details.
“I believe I am capable of making a fair judgment as member of the ZBA and therefore I do not plan to recuse myself,” Raymond said.
Update: The next ZBA public hearing on the Dimucci property request will be held July 25, 5 p.m., at Concorde Banquets in Kildeer. The ZBA process is expected to spread over several meetings.