Lake County pushes Route 53 study; some suburban mayors push back

  • A Route 53 right of way sign along Indian Creek Road in Hawthorn Woods. The village has questions about the design of the road and decision making in the land use in the road corridor.

    A Route 53 right of way sign along Indian Creek Road in Hawthorn Woods. The village has questions about the design of the road and decision making in the land use in the road corridor. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer, August 2014

Updated 7/23/2015 8:28 PM

Lake County officials this week continued to push the Route 53 extension, but some communities say they need specifics before giving official support to continued work on the long-proposed but controversial road.

Some communities have taken issue with a lack of detail on how the road would affect their communities. In a separate matter, five said they oppose the potential loss of local land use controls for planning, development and zoning along the Route 53 corridor.


A letter, signed by 40 Lake County mayors reaffirming commitment to the project, was distributed Wednesday to the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority board. The sentiment was reiterated and the board asked Thursday to move forward with engineering and environmental studies to produce details needed to advance the project.

The letter congratulated new Chairman Robert Schillerstrom and several new directors on their appointments and outlined the process that began in earnest after a 2012 consensus to plan for an environmentally sensitive, four-lane tolled parkway.

It stated the road would unlock economic development and provide significant congestion relief, and it noted the "significant local revenue share" that emerged late last year after several months of intense meetings by local stakeholders.

But the signatures of the mayors of Kildeer, Long Grove and Hawthorn Woods are among those absent from the letter.

Long Grove Mayor Angie Underwood said her village is on record supporting strong environmental standards if the road is to be built. But the village is awaiting results of a citizen survey, including questions about Route 53, before considering a formal resolution on the project.

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"We want to take a gauge of what residents say in the survey," Underwood said.

Meanwhile, Long Grove, Hawthorn Woods, Kildeer, Mundelein and Round Lake sent a separate letter to Greg Bedalov, executive director of the tollway authority, and Joseph C. Szabo, chief of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, questioning the process conducted by the planning agency on behalf of the tollway.

"We've sort of reached a tipping point. Those of us in the pathway of this road are giving some pushback now," Underwood said. "We're feeling there's maybe not enough consideration being taken for our individual (community) rights."

Mayors of Mundelein and Round Lake signed the letter sent to the tollway board but are with the others in questioning the power of the new planning council formed specifically to deal with issues along the Route 53 corridor.

"As municipal leaders, we voice strong opposition to the loss of local land use controls for the land planning, development and zoning authority for properties within our individual municipal jurisdictions," the letter reads. They said they can't make an endorsement until a corridor plan and method of control is fully vetted and debated in public.


Aaron Lawlor and George Ranney, the co-chairmen of the blue ribbon group that recommended the current Route 53 concept and those of the two committees studying planning and land use for Route 53 under the guidance of CMAP, agreed there were questions. They said no vote would occur until "full details are presented, vetted and discussed."

Lawlor, the Lake County Board chairman, said Thursday Long Grove and Hawthorn Woods had "some valid concerns" about design details that would be answered by an environmental impact study. He said he would oppose any effort to take away local planning authority.


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