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updated: 8/30/2012 3:59 PM

Tentative deal on Lake County shopping center proposal

Lake County, two mayors, developer make progress

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  • Lake County and municipal officials have reached a tentative deal that could pave the way for a shopping center on the Dimucci family's vacant property near Hawthorn Woods, shown here in the background.

       Lake County and municipal officials have reached a tentative deal that could pave the way for a shopping center on the Dimucci family's vacant property near Hawthorn Woods, shown here in the background.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 

Lake County officials tentatively have struck a deal with the mayors of North Barrington and Hawthorn Woods about future development on the Dimucci family's property near the two villages.

The newly reached consensus, announced Tuesday, could pave the way for county officials to rezone the land at Route 12 and Old McHenry Road so a shopping center can be built there.

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"It's a very significant development," County Administrator Barry Burton said.

The agreement would, in part:

• limit the size of a possible shopping center to 650,000 square feet, down from 800,000 square feet.

• emphasize the construction of separate buildings with outdoor pedestrian amenities.

• be consistent with a 2002 intergovernmental agreement between the two towns by banning hospitals, adult entertainment, boat or car dealerships with outdoor displays, and other possible uses.

• limit parking structures to two stories.

The county board and the two village boards will need to approve the development conditions as part of a new intergovernmental agreement for the rules to take effect. That could happen later this year, county officials said in a news release.

The Dimuccis want the vacant 109-acre property to be rezoned from estate to commercial. A developer is not yet aboard.

County administrators long have backed the request. Leaders of the two villages opposed it, as have dozens of area residents who have packed the Concorde Banquets facility in Kildeer for a series of contentious public discussions this summer.

Many complained village leaders and residents didn't have a say in the proposal.

In early July, the Dimuccis' request was rejected by the Lake County Regional Plan Commission, which advises the Lake County Board. It's now before the county's zoning board of appeals, another advisory group.

The county board will have final word on the request.

Due to the significant opposition, zoning board members opted later in July to put their deliberations on hold so representatives from the county and the villages could meet behind closed doors and try to reach common ground.

County board members Stevenson Mountsier and Craig Taylor have been meeting privately with North Barrington Mayor Albert Pino, Hawthorn Woods Mayor Joseph Mancino and staffers from both towns and the county about the proposal.

Members of the Dimucci family weren't part of the talks, nor were their representatives, attorney Mark Eiden said.

The negotiated deal shows the county's planning and development process works, said Taylor, a Lake Zurich Republican.

"Folks wanted the villages involved, and indeed that's what happened," he said.

Burton said the consensus reached after those discussions "reflects many of the comments heard during the process from the area residents."

Many of those concerns were shared by some county board members, Burton said without citing any specifics.

Burton said he hopes most of the residents who attended this summer's hearings and opposed the proposal will see the tentative agreement as reasonable. He added that he realizes some people would prefer the land not be developed.

Pino and Mancino agreed with that but said they recognized the Dimuccis' right to a reasonable use of their land. They are both now preparing public hearings on their respective villages' entry into the proposed intergovernmental agreement.

Pino said that what proved to him the compromise was fair was that no party was completely happy with it. But the work that went into it was exhausting, he said.

"I didn't know until this morning whether we would reach this agreement," Pino said Tuesday afternoon.

He felt the significant reduction in size of the proposal dispensed with what he considered an unliveable situation -- a destination shopping mall twice the size of nearby Deer Park Town Center. The more detailed plan now on the table represents a place where people will go only to shop for specific items.

The elimination of certain types of uses also helps alleviate many environmental concerns about the use of the property, Pino said.

The much greater specifics of the plan are what Mancino said pleased him the most about the compromise.

"We've much better defined what can and can't go on that property," Mancino said. "My number one goal was to advocate for a regional solution and we achieved that."

Representatives of the opposition group Active Citizens for Responsible Expansion, or ACRE, released a statement Tuesday night expressing disappointment with both the agreement itself and the way it was reached.

"None of the other interested community members -- from the many recognized organizations to the many individual residents and business owners who have attended scores of public hearings on the topic -- had the opportunity to provide input or to know anything about what was being contemplated in these closed-door meetings," the statement reads. "A proposal of this magnitude just cannot survive without the support of the public."

ACRE officials stressed that even the proposed compromise exceeds what is allowed by the existing intergovernmental agreement between North Barrington and Hawthorn Woods.

Eiden said the Dimuccis are glad the mayors and county officials reached common ground, but he wasn't ready to comment on the proposal.

"We're cautiously optimistic, but we need time to look at it," he said.

The county zoning board will discuss the proposal at 5 p.m. Sept. 6 at Concorde Banquets, 20922 N. Rand Road.

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