So many disgruntled residents showed up at a February meeting to protest building a mall near Hawthorn Woods that Lake County officials were forced to adjourn the session after 30 minutes because of overcrowding.
Saturday, the room was spacious, the format was a casual open house, and most homeowners still hated the Dimucci family's plans to develop an upscale plaza.
"Where do I start?" was a common refrain from people who said they worried about traffic, crime, flooding and the economic viability of the proposal for the southeast corner of Rand and Old McHenry roads, currently zoned as residential.
"A shopping mall, no matter how high-quality it is, does not meet with the character of the neighborhood," Dick Lansing of North Barrington said. "What do we need a mall for? You'll just get traffic and crime."
More than 75 people attended the first of three county open house events at Concorde Banquets in Kildeer.
Plans are to build "a high-quality commercial development surrounded by permanent open space." The site is nearly 109 acres with a maximum of 53 acres that could be developed. Building heights could be up to 50 feet tall with up to 65 feet allowed for architectural features.
The timing is wrong with shuttered shops all over, homeowner Roy Hansen said.
"All you have to do is drive down to Lake Zurich and see all the empty storefronts. We didn't move out here to have a mall put in here across the street. We like dark evenings," Hansen said.
And, "where is all that runoff going to go?" asked Norm Murphy, who lives just north of the proposed mall with his wife, Lynne. "They show ponds in the diagrams, but those ponds can't begin to hold the amount of water we sometimes get."
The county has stringent regulations to control erosion and flooding, planning director Eric Waggoner said.
"Over half of the site is open space," Waggoner noted. "The open space provides an excellent opportunity to provide additional, on-site detention, retention and filtration of any water produced on-site."
As to economic viability, "economic conditions will have to be right before going forward; the developer will not build something that won't have a market," Waggoner said, adding the mall may not be built for years.
Residents said they'd fought turning the land into a shopping mall for two decades. Some feared approval of a retail center was a done deal.
"The trust factor is very low," Lynne Murphy said.
County Administrator Barry Burton said there was much "misinformation out there."
"Any residents with concerns can raise those to us and we'll answer them or consider them. As this goes through the zoning process, we can place additional conditions and restrictions," Burton said.
"It's not a done deal; it's an application we have to review and ultimately the county board will have to decide if it's appropriate for the area or not."
Stevenson Mountsier, the Lake County Board member for the area that includes the proposed mall, supports the development.
"It's going to be a shopping center someday. I think it's a good plan, and I'd like to see us moving ahead and working with Mr. Dimucci," said Mountsier, who is not running for re-election.
Marilyn Wylie, who lives near Lake Zurich, wore a "Don't Mall Us" button. The intersection is "a death trap -- we've had so many fatals," she said.
Additional traffic improvements would be needed at the intersection to meet state and county requirements if the project is approved, Waggoner said.
On bad days it can take Kildeer area resident Karen Sande 20 minutes to drive a 6-mile stretch on Rand Road. "This will only make it worse," she said.
The county's other open houses are from 5 to 8 p.m. March 21 and 27 at Concorde Banquets, 20922 N. Rand Road, Kildeer. For information, visit www.lakecountyil.gov/Dimucciproperty.