Will controversial plan for new church, school in South Barrington move forward?

A controversial proposal to build a church and school in South Barrington is on the village board’s agenda Tuesday night.

No extensive debate or public presentation about Schaumburg-based Fourth Avenue Gospel’s plans for the land are expected, however. Rather, trustees will decide if the village’s plan commission, which advises the board on development matters, should review the plans for the site known as Area N.

But it'll be the first time the village board publicly discusses the proposal since Fourth Avenue surreptitiously bought the land earlier this year.

A controversial proposal for a church and school on land called Area N is on the South Barrington village board’s agenda for its meeting Tuesday night. Courtesy of South Barrington

Fourth Avenue’s plans focus on a 34-acre site at Bartlett Road and Route 59. The organization, which is owned and operated by a suburban congregation of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, purchased the wooded site from the South Barrington Park District through a March auction, using a limited liability company it created called Area N Development.

Fourth Avenue representatives didn’t publicly come forward as the owners until April.

That was the second time Fourth Avenue Gospel won an auction for the land. It also had done so in May 2023, but the park district board canceled the sale because of community protests.

Area residents opposed to the plan have cited traffic, the impact on the environment and some of the Plymouth Brethren's practices among their concerns.

In a May 15 letter to Mayor Paula McCombie, Plymouth Brethren member Sam Johnstone said the congregation listened to those comments and changed initial plans.

“The PBCC congregation is committed to being good neighbors and citizens of the South Barrington community,” Johnstone wrote.

The property is zoned as a planned unit development and designated as parkland, as part of the adjacent Woods of South Barrington neighborhood. To build a church and school, Fourth Avenue needs the village board to amend the development plan.

Tuesday’s board meeting is set for 7 p.m. at village hall, 30 S. Barrington Road.

A church representative has said the group hopes construction will begin later this year and conclude by late 2025.

  A controversial proposal for a church and school on land called Area N, shown here, is on the South Barrington village board’s agenda for its meeting Tuesday night. John Starks/, 2023

‘We haven’t gotten anything yet’: Church has yet to ask for changes to development plan

Officials say they didn’t know religious group was behind land buy until after it was completed

Religious group reveals it has purchased South Barrington land for new church, school

South Barrington Park District again auctions land, but identity of winning bidder isn’t clear

After public outcry, South Barrington Park District might scrap plan to sell land to religious group

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.