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Dimucci Plan Gains Recommendation of ZBA

After numerous public hearings, a new intergovernmental agreement, and numerous limiting conditions, the Lake County Zoning Board of Appeals forwards a recommendation for rezoning and a PUD.

At Thursday's final ZBA public hearing on the request by the Dimucci family for rezoning to commercial and a planned unit development (PUD) for their property at Old McHenry Road and Route 12, the ZBA voted unanimously in favor of forwarding a favorable recommendation to the County Board. 

Between the Lake County Regional Planning Commission (RPC) and the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), peitioners, Lake County staff and objectors attended some 37 hours of public hearings.

See Dimucci Property at Rte. 12 and Old McHenry Road 

Before taking the vote, the ZBA added conditions to the proposal on top of an extensive list of conditions negotiated in an intergovernmental agreement between the county, Hawthorn Woods and North Barrington. 

"I want to be able to have a development here that doesn't negatively impact the neighbors," said ZBA member Al Westerman. 

Westerman and other ZBA members pushed forward a reduced height restriction from 50 feet to 40 feet -- the maximum feet currently allowed in general commercial. They also added a 10-foot minimum berm along Old McHenry Road and doubled the landscaping requirement along the road. 

Prior to voting, ZBA members heard closing statements from landowner and petitioner John Dimucci as well as statements by Lake County staff. 

Dimucci disputed some of the objections raised during the public comment and said he accepts the i

Lake County staff, including engineers from the departments of transportation, stormwater management and public works, explained detailed conditions they were recommending.

Eric Waggoner, director of Lake County Planning, stressed that the current plans are prelimary and that rezoning doesn't take place until after a developer submits a final development plan and that plan is approved by the county and all conditions are met. "This is as ironclad as it gets," Waggoner said. 

Betsy Duckert, engineer for the Lake County Division of Transportation, said that a traffic study would be provided by a future developer to assess the impact on Old McHenry Road. She said that all traffic improvements would be the financial responsibility of the developer.

ZBA board members explained their votes and many said the IGA between the villages of Hawthorn Woods and North Barrington-- which had opposed the DImucci plan-- and the county factored into their favorable recommendation.

"If the villages were still arguing, we'd stil be at meetings right now," said ZBA board member Geraldine Stimpson. She said the IGA cleared the way for a favorable recommendation. She noted that she didn't think there is a big need for commercial in the area and she urged community residents to continue attending upcoming county meetings as the county board will be the final vote on the proposal.

Westerman also questionned the demand for a shopping mall, but he said he didn't believe that concern would justify a negative recommendation.

Marvin Raymond said a concern he had, raised by objector comments during the public hearing, was that a potential developer could "sneak around the conditions." He said he felt comfortable that the conditions would be met due to the requirments set out by the various Lake County departments.

Raymond commented that he wondered whether a developer would be found and the project would actually get off the ground, during the five-year window the Dimucci's have for the proposal.

ZBA vice chair Greg Koeppen said "I think the project is good for the community and overall it's not going to change your area as much as you think . . . I look at Rte. 12 area and there's no question in my mind it is a commercial area and will continue to spread north."

The ZBA recommendation followed a vote by the RPC against recommending the Dimucci plan. The proposal now moves onto the Planning, Builiding and Zoning Committee on Sept. 25 and then to the County Board.

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