In Barrington Hills, properties have names, and residents want to keep them

Some Barrington Hills properties don't just have numeric addresses. They come with charming names like “Serendipity” and “Hidden Pond Estate,” often seen on signs posted along village streets.

Concerned that proposed changes in a sign ordinance could force those markers to go away, some residents this week let elected officials know they want to keep that slice of Barrington Hills tradition.

Among them was 45-year resident Patty Meroni, a former village trustee.

“To lose a sense of history would be tragic for our village,” Meroni said. “We have signs all around our village that develop our history. It's part of what our village is all about, part of our uniqueness.”

But Village President Martin McLaughlin said those distressed about proposed amendments in the sign ordinance have it all wrong and their concerns are unfounded. He said the intent is not to get rid of property name signs but to tweak the dated ordinance so that those signs as they are can comply with local laws.

McLaughlin said Barrington Hills' advisory zoning board of appeals began looking at the issue about two years ago after a conservation organization installed what turned out to be illegal signs at its property.

“How much signage do you want on what's supposed to be open space, while at the same time letting the public know this is set aside for Henslow's sparrow breeding or this is set aside for specific grasslands?” he said. “So, there is a balance we're trying to come up with.”

Trustee Colleen Konicek Hannigan said the village is trying to achieve a finely crafted sign ordinance that updates one that dates to 1963 and was last revised in 1977.

“For those who apparently are not aware, our current ordinance means that probably 90-some-odd percent of the signs that are currently existing are out of compliance,” Hannigan said.

Serendipity, Olde Plum Tree Farm, TLC Farm and High Wire Farm are examples of the Barrington Hills property names seen on signs. Former Village President Robert Abboud, whose property is High Wire Farm, shared his concern about the proposed sign ordinance changes with Barrington Hills officials.

“I've had a sign marking my property for the last 32 years, my parents' property 52 years,” Abboud said.

McLaughlin blamed the Barrington Hills rumor mill for creating the concern about the property name signs. He said the village has no intention to “grab saws and cut them all down and fine everybody.”

“There's always two speeds: the speed of light and the speed of a rumor in Barrington Hills,” he said.

Barrington Hills zoning panel members are expected to review the proposed sign ordinance changes again before the matter returns to the village board.

  Barrington Hills has a tradition of signs with property names, such as this one known as Serendipity. John Starks/
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