Why some South Barrington residents oppose plan for new church, school

A church's proposal to build a facility in South Barrington is drawing opposition from some area residents.

The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church wants to erect a house of worship and a school at Bartlett Road and Route 59.

Critics of the plan say they're concerned about the ecological impact of such a development as well as the conversion of the land - long owned by the South Barrington Park District - into private property.

"It changes the use of the land from parks and recreation - a purpose the village approved back in 2004 for the enjoyment of the public - to a use that specifically excludes the public," resident Mike Lombardi said.

Increased traffic and an added burden on local police are among the other concerns expressed in an online petition against the project.

A Plymouth Brethren representative couldn't be reached for comment.

The church's proposal would require the village board to amend an existing, village-approved development plan.

South Barrington's plan commission, which advises the board, will hold a public hearing about the proposal at 7 p.m. Thursday at village hall, 30 S. Barrington Road.

Church representatives, park district officials and a resident of the nearby Woods of South Barrington subdivision are among the expected speakers.

Mayor Paula McCombie said village officials look forward to learning about the church's proposal and hearing the plan commission's recommendation.

Founded in England in the 19th century, the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church has more than 50,000 members in the Americas, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, according to the website for One School Global, the company that operates its schools.

Street preaching is a key part of the faith. Members follow a doctrine of separation and don't socialize with nonmembers.

The church has one school in the Chicago area, in Elk Grove Village.

The 34-acre South Barrington property that the church has its eye on is has been owned by the South Barrington Park District for about 20 years. The district bought the land, which once was home to a tree nursery, as part of a lawsuit settlement.

Because of its topography and other factors, officials determined the land isn't ideal for recreational activities and would be too costly to develop and repeatedly sought to sell it.

This past April, voters approved a plan to sell the site at auction. Only one bidder attended a live auction in May and won with the opening price of about $1.7 million.

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South Barrington Park District again seeking voter permission to sell land

South Barrington Park District again gets voter permission to sell land

A church's proposal to build a facility in South Barrington in an area sometimes called "Area N" is drawing opposition. Courtesy of South Barrington
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