After seven and a half hours of discussion, the Lake Barrington Board of Trustees approved the construction of a Speedway gas station at the intersection of Kelsey Road and Northwest Highway, stunning and disappointing residents who had opposed the plan and stuck around until the bitter end.
At around 2 a.m. the trustees began reading statements explaining why they supported Speedway's plan to build a station with 20 gas pumps, a convenience store and a car wash.
Since the plan was first introduced, residents have expressed concern about the proposed station's size, affect on local traffic, environmental impact and a litany of other issues.
Before voting for the proposal, Trustee Dorothy "Connie" Schofield said she trusted the opinion of the village's staff and the consultants hired by the village to vet Speedway's proposal.
"Forgive me, but I agree with this plan, and I will support it," Schofield said to the residents in the room.
Trustee John Schaller did not appeal to the audience for forgiveness when he said he would vote for the plan.
"I like the threat that you are going to get me out of office at the next election," Schaller said, addressing the audience. "Bring it on."
As it became apparent to residents that a trustee intended to vote in favor of the proposal some would shout "shame!" or "fix!".
Schaller said that Lake Barrington residents who were not from the Pheasant Ridge subdivision, which is near the proposed site, were largely in favor of the gas station.
Krissy Lohmeyer, a Lake Barrington resident from the Pheasant Ridge neighborhood who runs Facebook page for the group "STOP Speedway in Lake Barrington," said during public comment that she was baffled that the board could ignore the concerns of the more than 500 residents who signed a petition opposing the station.
She said she's worked hard to get the word out about the proposal and follow the village's process for opposing a plan.
"I felt really positive that if we got enough people to know about this and they didn't like it then surely this won't happen," Lohmeyer said. "It's like those people aren't being listened to."
At around 2:30 a.m. when the meeting ended, a post on the Facebook page read "This has been the most disgraceful showing of democracy ever. How can this board IGNORE the residents near this site, the businesses near this site, the adjacent village of Barrington Hills near this site, AND the District 220's opposition to this proposal?"
At around 10:45 p.m., Brian Battle, the president of the Barrington Area Unit School District 220 board of education, read a letter the school board had drafted opposing the proposal.
"A gas station is not the school district's recommendation for neighbor to a middle school," Battle said, before being cut off by thunderous applause from the crowd, which had been silent for nearly four hours at that point.
The Speedway site is adjacent to school district land that may be the site of a future third middle school campus.
Barrington Hills Village President Martin McLaughlin said he felt the gas station, which he referred to as a "mega station," would negatively effect the property values of Barrington Hills residents near the site. Northwest Highway is the boundary of Lake Barrington and Barrington Hills near Kelsey Road.
Every member of the public who came forward to speak from when public comment opened at around 10:40 p.m. to when it closed at around 1 a.m. spoke against the plan.
"It would be really easy to say 'oh gosh, there's a hundred people saying they don't like this,' and then voting no," Trustee Karen Daulton Lange said before she voted for the plan. "I am charged with finding the facts (about the proposal)."
Lake Barrington resident Mike Rothmann, who is an attorney, said after the meeting that he was thinking about taking legal action to prevent the plan from going forward.
"We're going to consider it at this time," Rothmann said. "The trustees did not go through the factors required to determine whether a special use permit should be have been granted."
Rothmann said there is a 90 day window to appeal the board's ruling.
Public comment closed at around 1 a.m., after everyone who'd wanted to speak had spoken. After public comment, Rothmann asked Village President Kevin Richardson if the board could stop for the evening and pick up the meeting on another day.
Richardson told him that he wanted to hear the consultants hired by the village respond to some of the concerns raised by residents while the questions were still fresh in his mind.
An hour and a half later Richardson voted in favor of the Speedway proposal.
Richardson said it was important to him that the residents voice their concerns because it was part of the process.
"If I'm going to break your heart by voting against you, I'm going to at least let you come up here and talk about how you feel," Richardson said.
Richardson spoke out against the notion that the board members had made up their minds before the meeting.
"The system relies on our integrity and it stings when people say that it feels like we haven't done that," Richardson said.
In the end, the board voted for the proposal 6-0.
Trustee Andrew Burke recused himself from the discussion and from voting on the proposal. Burke is the President and CEO of Insight Beverages, Inc., a consultant firm based in Lake Zurich.
He said while his company does not do business with Speedway he knew people who worked for them and other businesses in the industry.
Representatives from Speedway said construction of the station would take a matter of months but did not say when they would start construction.