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Article updated: 10/2/2012 10:46 AM

Wheeling OKs study linked to development on village's northeast side

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The Wheeling village board Monday hired an engineering firm to study stormwater retention and paths on 5.8 acres owned by the village north of Meadow Lane and west of the Prairie Park condominiums, a move linked the possible development of a nearby site.

Gewalt Hamilton Associates of Vernon Hills will receive up to $14,000 for the first phase of the study. The village board will then decide whether to proceed further, depending on soil conditions and the preliminary cost of creating basins for stormwater. The contract could eventually total $41,000, according to documents presented Monday.

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Village staff recommended hiring the firm even though Gewalt Hamilton's first-phase bid was $3,000 higher than the lowest of four bids, and the total was $9,000 higher. Staff documents cited previous village work by both engineering firms.

"This company has been involved with previous and existing projects in the village, many in the surrounding area, and has extensive experience with wetlands, civil engineering, and

environmental issues," Mark Janeck, Wheeling's director of community development, stated in the documents.

Last week, the village hired V3 of Woodridge for $3,000 to determine the extent of wetlands on the property. One half-acre wetland was found, in addition to one of similar size that had been discovered earlier, according to Janeck.

Representatives of Smith Family Construction, developers of Prairie Park, approached the village in July about the possibility of using the land for stormwater in the event of development on the adjacent 7.4 acres, as well as 17 acres at the southwest corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Lake-Cook Road, according to a staff memorandum to the board. The developer also is interested in pathways for pedestrians and bikes.

The prospect of development on the land has raised some concerns. Jack Caldwell, a self-proclaimed "tree hugger," spoke out against development at the village board's Sept. 24 meeting. He later said his protests four years ago got state and federal agencies to intervene and declare the area a wetland.

Janeck said a contractor was found dumping on the property during the period Caldwell referenced, and the village paid to restore the wetland.

Caldwell said Monday night he would comment in the future about the board's latest actions.

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