Barrington Hills horse-boarding debate heats up
According to a resident opposed to commercial horse boarding in Barrington Hills, an ordinance being considered by the village's zoning board Monday goes a long way toward loosening all existing regulations of it.
But Village President Robert Abboud maintains that the proposed change to the zoning code only clarifies and steps up the regulation of horse boarding as a home occupation business.
Home-based businesses -- from baby-sitting to piano lessons -- exist in many communities, but Barrington Hills is probably rare for the ability of some residents to house other people's horses.
Jim Drury, who lives next door to Oakwood Farms where up to 60 horses can be housed, said the proposed zoning code change does nothing but allow everyone in the village to do what Oakwood Farms is already doing.
He argues that the allowances given to horse boarding allow such businesses to ignore every other aspect of the home occupation ordinance -- especially that they be invisible to neighbors.
Drury has been running provocative ads in local papers trying to stir up resident interest in the pending ordinance and directing them to his critical website preservebarringtonhills.com.
And he holds Abboud responsible for what he says will be harmful changes to the village's character if the change is approved.
"We're doing what he doesn't have the integrity to do -- to tell the community how important these meetings are," Drury said of Abboud. "If this thing goes through, he's destroyed our residential zoning code without anyone knowing it."
But Abboud argues the new ordinance would bring much tighter regulation to horse boarding in the village by saying who can be on the property and what types of equipment can be used during which hours of the day.
Abboud also believes Drury is misusing his deep financial resources on the ad campaign in the local media.
"This is purely an attempt to drive a wedge between the horse owners and the non-horse owners," Abboud said. The village has "never been a purely residential construct. We have horses on our car stickers."
Drury filed a lawsuit last summer that called for his neighbors Benjamin and Cathleen LeCompte to cease and desist their horse boarding operation at Oakwood Farms. Though it named no village officials as defendants, it made allegations of political favoritism.
But Abboud said he found almost laughable the allegation that Benjamin LeCompte -- who so long resisted the village's efforts to regulate horse boarding -- could be considered a political ally.
"The guy was my political enemy until Drury started shooting at him," Abboud said.
LeCompte did make $5,000 donations to three village trustee candidates whom Abboud supported last year, but that money was returned to LeCompte when the State Board of Elections determined he had not been properly identified as the original source of the funding.
Drury's lawsuit against the LeComptes has been dismissed, but he said he's considered filing an appeal.
Monday's zoning board meeting to consider the zoning code change will be held at 7:30 p.m. at Countryside Elementary School, 205 W. County Line Road in Barrington Hills.