Could residents challenge Speedway vote?
A legal challenge could be in the works against the Lake Barrington village board's late-night vote to approve construction of a Speedway gas station on the corner of Northwest Highway and Kelsey Road.
After a 7½-hour board meeting ended just before 2:30 a.m. Thursday with a 6-0 vote in favor of Speedway's proposal, Lake Barrington resident Mike Rothmann, who is an attorney, said legal action might be opponents' next option.
"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."
Many of the more than 100 residents who attended the long board meeting spoke out against the Speedway plan, which calls for a gas station with 20 gas pumps and a 4,608-square-foot convenience store. They cited concerns ranging from groundwater pollution to increased traffic to its location adjacent to the site of a possible middle school.
"A gas station is not the school district's recommendation for neighbor to a middle school," said Brian Battle, president of the Barrington Unit District 220 school board.
Krissy Lohmeyer, who lives in the Pheasant Ridge neighborhood near the Speedway site and runs the Facebook page for the group "STOP Speedway in Lake Barrington," said she is baffled that the board could ignore the concerns of the more than 500 residents who signed a petition opposing the station.
"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."
After the meeting ended, a post appeared on the Facebook page reading, "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?"
Joining the opposition was Barrington Hills Village President Martin McLaughlin, who said he believes the Speedway, which he referred to as a "mega station," would negatively effect the property values of his community's residents. Northwest Highway is the boundary of Lake Barrington and Barrington Hills near Kelsey Road.
If residents hope to defeat the proposal in court, they're probably facing an uphill battle, according to Joe Gottemoller, a Crystal Lake attorney with years of experience in zoning law.
"They would have to show that the village acted in an arbitrary and capricious way," Gottemoller said. "It's not unusual to have a gas station in a highly-trafficked area."
Despite overwhelming public sentiment against the plan, village trustees were unanimous in their support of it.
"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. "I am charged with finding the facts (about 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 told residents.
Trustee John Schaller did not appeal 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 to the audience. "Bring it on."
As it became apparent to residents that trustees intended to vote for the proposal, some would shout "shame!" or "fix!".
Village President Kevin Richardson said it was important for officials to hear from opponents, even if the vote ultimately went against their wishes.
"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.
A Speedway representative said it would take a few months to build the station, but did not indicate when work would begin.
Rothmann said residents have 90 days to file a legal challenge to the board's decision.