Buffalo Grove delays decision on referendum for downtown proposal
Buffalo Grove trustees delayed a decision Monday on whether to ask village voters to weigh in on a proposal for a massive "downtown" development on the present municipal campus and Buffalo Grove Golf Club.
Trustees seeking the delay, along with Village President Jeffrey Braiman, said they were uncomfortable putting the issue to voters on April 7 without first settling on a resolution outlining the measure and obtaining a legal opinion on whether it should be a binding or advisory referendum.
"I think it is important that we understand what the options are when we make a decision and not limit the discussion to one or the other, if counsel says both are available," Trustee Jeffrey Berman said.
"We don't really know what we are approving. The language is not in front of us."
Village Attorney William Raysa indicated that approving a resolution at Monday's village board meeting, without first having been published for the public, would be a violation of the Open Meetings Act.
The idea for a referendum was placed on the board agenda at the suggestion of Trustee Andrew Stein, with a second from Trustee Beverly Sussman. Resident and local activist Rob Sherman requested the measure.
The proposed referendum would ask voters' opinion of CRM Properties Group's proposal to build a sprawling, mixed-use development on nearly 60 acres near Lake-Cook Road and Raupp Boulevard. The company's latest plan calls for 355,000 square feet of retail space, 707,000 square feet of commercial space, 677 residential units and 53.5 acres of open space for recreation, trails and parks. It also includes space for a cinema, potential performance theater, library, day care and fitness center.
The village's planning and zoning commission had scheduled a second workshop Wednesday to consider the proposal, but village officials canceled the meeting Tuesday afternoon, saying the developer was not available to attend.
Sussman said she wants a referendum question that specifically references CRM's proposal, rather than generic resolution referring to a municipal downtown.
"The vote could come in against it. But all they have to do is change the name of it to something else and it would still be the same thing. I would like it to be (CRM's) concept of a downtown," she said.
Berman noted Monday that since the board has three more meetings scheduled before the late January deadline to place a referendum on the April ballot, there is ample time to get everything in order.
Braiman also wants the village staff to suggest alternate methods for obtaining public input. He said he's concerned about the low turnout in municipal elections.
As the board awaits Raysa's opinion, the group Save Buffalo Grove, which is opposed to the development, has already submitted to the village copies of its petition for a binding referendum. The petition calls on the board to send the matter to referendum prior to project approval, sale of property or expenditure of taxpayer dollars on a downtown proposal.
Brian Costin, representing the group at Monday's meeting, said there are 668 signatures on the petition.
"This is a very serious concept, and we are excited that the village board is considering exploring this," he said.