Article updated: 12/14/2012 5:46 PM

Buffalo Grove group seeks referendum on project

This is a sketch of what a proposed development in Buffalo Grove might look like.

This is a sketch of what a proposed development in Buffalo Grove might look like.

 

Courtesy Developer Chuck Malk

 Developer Chuck Malk speaks to the Buffalo Grove Village Board on Monday, Aug. 6.

Developer Chuck Malk speaks to the Buffalo Grove Village Board on Monday, Aug. 6.

 

Steve Zalusky | Staff Photographer

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A Buffalo Grove citizens group opposed to a massive downtown redevelopment proposal is asking the village board to put the question of its final approval to voters and then to abide by the outcome.

The group Save Buffalo Grove feels its requested referendum would only be necessary if the 65-acre development proposal passes trustees' own due diligence and is something they feel is worth consideration.

If the proposal turns out to be something trustees themselves find fault with, a referendum would be an unnecessary expense, Save Buffalo Grove member Marilyn Weisberg said Friday.

But the citizens group and referendum proposal were created out of concern that the village board has seemed less than objective so far about the proposal, she added.

"So many of the trustees seem so gung-ho," Weisberg said.

The proposed development, unveiled in August, would be built on what is now the village government campus and Buffalo Grove Golf Club. It would include 320,000 square feet of stores, 55,000 square feet of restaurants, 66,000 square feet of office space, a 45,000-square-foot movie theater and 60,000 square feet of cultural amenities such as a community center or museum.

The project also would include two eight-story towers and one 10-story tower that would contain a total of 266 condominium units. Another 325 rental units would be on the upper floors of the office and retail buildings.

The referendum petition is aiming for more than 2,000 signatures or any amount that would grab the attention of the village board, Weisberg said.

Brian Costin, another member of the group who has moved to Buffalo Grove since running for mayor of Schaumburg in 2011, said no amount of signatures could force the village board to create a referendum. But it's hoped the petition will be persuasive, he added.

Costin said this village board decision is extraordinarily important for a number of reasons, making seeking approval in a referendum a reasonable step before proceeding.

For one, it could create a new tax-increment finance district. For another, it would involve the sale of the golf course property which was bought as a result of an earlier citizen referendum in 1977, Costin said.

At this point, getting such a referendum on the April 9 ballot is out of the question -- and most likely unnecessary, Costin said. Based on the expected pace of the village's review of the proposal, the referendum would probably not be required until the next election day in 2014.

Though the citizens themselves can't get a binding referendum on the ballot, Costin said Save Buffalo Grove hopes that if trustees agree to put it on the ballot, they also will agree to make it binding.

Members of the citizens group are currently of divided opinion on whether the development could be adapted into something livable or whether its whole premise is out of sync with the community, Costin said.

Developer Chuck Malk proposed the massive development in August. In September, the opposition group emerged, with an initial announcement of an intent to seek to recall elected officials who the group believed were in favor of the plan in next April's election.

The group later backed away from pursuing recall, at least for now. Costin said he personally opposes recall efforts, but Weisberg said it was at least effective in getting the attention of trustees and putting them on notice of the group's concerns.

Buffalo Grove Village President Jeff Braiman said the group is correct in believing the village's review of the proposal is going to take time. And that's why he believes the effort is premature.

"It's unlikely that it will happen within a year," Braiman said of getting through the entire review process. "We have the same concerns that they do and we pay the same real estate taxes," Braiman said. "Right now, we don't even have a plan. Let's go through this process."

An online petition and more information on the opposition group is at savebuffalogrove.wordpress.com.

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