Cook County rejects fire station planned near Barrington schools
Cook County commissioners Wednesday unanimously rejected a Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District plan to build a new station near a middle school and early childhood center.
Commissioners on the county's zoning and building committee voted 14-0 against granting a special-use permit and zoning variances the fire district needed to build the station at 36 E. Dundee Road.
Fire district officials contended that the third station would have improved ambulance response times to parts of Inverness and elsewhere.
But its planned location between Barrington Middle School-Prairie Campus and Barrington Area Unit District 220's Early Learning Center drew opposition from school leaders and parents.
District 220 Superintendent Brian Harris urged commissioners to vote against the plan, saying the schools never would have been built at that location had the fire station been there first.
He said he hopes fire district officials instead follow a study's recommendation indicating a need for a facility in the western part of the district.
"It is over," Harris said after Wednesday's county board session. "It is done."
Barrington Countryside officials released a statement calling the county board's decision "a setback for regional public safety."
"It is also an overreaction to patently false information created and disseminated by a small group of individuals who seek shortsighted benefits for a select few at the expense of the long-term greater good," the fire district said.
Barrington Countryside hoped to use the foundation of a house it bought for $500,000 in 2016 for the station. The new facility would have cost $900,000 to $1.1 million, according to the fire district.
Officials said the Dundee Road location would have cut response times from about 10 minutes to 6 minutes for Inverness and other parts of the district's eastern and southern coverage areas.
District 220 lodged a formal objection with Cook County, citing traffic concerns and the potential for reduced property values.
At a meeting last fall, school officials and teachers said noise from the firehouse could cause problems for the early learning center, where the most fragile children in the system are taught.
County Commissioner Kevin Morrison of Elk Grove Village, whose District 15 includes the firehouse site, said his office last week received at least 50 calls and 70 emails against the project. Morrison said that while the county's advisory zoning board of appeals recommended the station on the condition that no sirens be used, a site visit and feedback from both sides of the issue convinced him the project would be inappropriate.
"I am urging my fellow commissioners to vote 'no' on this," Morrison said during Wednesday's committee session.
Barrington resident Keara Ide led an online petition drive against the fire station that tallied upward of 830 signatures.
"I am amazed it made it this far, but I'm obviously very happy the commissioners agreed this was a bad plan," she said Wednesday.
Barrington Countryside Fire Chief James Kreher said work will resume to find another site to better serve Inverness and the eastern and southern areas of the district. District 220 has expressed interest in buying the district's Dundee Road property, he said.
"No hard feelings or anything," Kreher said.