After a month extension, public hearings regarding the rezoning of the Dimucci property at Old McHenry Road and Route 12 resumed, Sept. 6. The flavor of the meetings was noticeably changed. The villages of North Barrington and Hawthorn Woods, previously leading the opposition, were no longer fighting the rezoning. However, neighbors of the Dimucci property remained adamantly opposed and vocal in their opposition.
The Zoning Board of Appeals hearings are for rezoning the 109- acre site from residential to general commercial and a Planned Unit Development on the site.
In the past month the Lake County Planning Department met with North Barrington and Hawthorn Woods to negotiate changes to the original plan proposed by the Dimuccis. The changes are extensive and include reducing the potential size of a commercial development from 800,000 to 650,000 square feet, as well as tax revenue sharing with the villages.
The Dimuccis were not part of those negotiations.
And while the hearing continues, ZBA board members and the public are not supposed to be debating the new, revised plan, only the original plan proposed by the Dimuccis.
The villages will ask the ZBA to consider the development conditions during public comment, according to Eric Waggoner, director of Lake County Planning Department. The Zoning Board of Appeals can, during the approval process, set conditions in respect to the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between the villages and the county. The IGA has yet to be considered by the Lake County board.
Last week’s hearing began with explanations of the negotiated deal by Hawthorn Woods Mayor Joe Mancino, North Barrington Mayor Albert Pino and local County Board representatives Craig Taylor and Steven Mountsier.
“We could have continued to fight, as some have requested, but we would have spent thousands of dollars . . . We’re not fighting development; we were fighting for a seat at the table,” Mancino said.
Pino said the negotiated agreement is more in scale with the village’s plan for the site. “I’m pleased to bring to you a significant improvement from the original and one I can fully support,” he said. Pino pointed out that if the county approves the IGA between the villages and the county it would be the first of its kind.
ZBA Chairman George Bell said the conditions proposed by the IGA are not on the record. “The Dimuccis have not agreed to any of them; it’s not part of their application at this point,” he said.
The public hearing continued with cross-examination of the Dimuccis. The primary parties scheduled for cross-examination were representatives from Hawthorn Woods and North Barrington. As their names were called, they declined their time for cross-examination.
Representatives from two major groups in opposition – Protect Lakewood and ACRE (Active Citizens for Responsible Expansion)—were present, but not prepared to cross-examine. Matt Lasusa, of ACRE, was at his mother’s funeral wake. Lorraine Ray, of Preserve Lakewood, asked the ZBA to adjourn the meeting and reconvene at a later time to give the opposition more advance notice of meetings and more time to prepare. Paul Hunt, representing ACRE, asked that the cross examination be continued until Tuesday. Both were denied their requests.
Numerous residents of Timberlakes subdivision and other nearby neighborhoods participated in cross-examination. They included former trustees from North Barrington and Hawthorn Woods.
Greg Gehrke, a former Hawthorn Woods trustees, asked Dimucci representatives numerous questions including whether there had been studies regarding traffic, water supply, and noise pollution. The repeated reply from Dimucci engineer Kim Lask was that the effects of the project could not be determined until the land use is known.
Scott Payne, a former North Barrington trustee, commented that he had fought a previous Dimucci plan for commercial development of the land and he thought the fight was over. He said residents in the area built their homes expecting the villages to uphold the zoning.
“All the zoning anywhere doesn’t mean anything. It’s not easy, but right is right and this is wrong,” he said.
Hawthorn Woods resident Ken Christ also questioned the rezoning.
“If zoning changes are not going to take input from surrounding area, how is anybody going to move into a community not knowing if the zoning is going to change? This is going to have effect way beyond our community,” Christ said.
Residents voiced concerns about traffic, pollution, noise, water levels and a change in the character of their community. Many were also critical of the process.
Public comment on the Dimucci proposal will continue at 5 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 11.
Another hearing is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 13. Both are at Concorde Banquets in Kildeer.
Read background on this topic: Dimucci Property at Rte. 12 and Old McHenry Road