Barrington Hills looking to reopen village hall by May 19

Barrington Hills' elected officials want village hall and the adjacent police headquarters to reopen to the public in less than two weeks, with visitors abiding by state regulations such as social distancing.

Village board members have set May 19 as the target date for the municipal buildings to be accessible to the public. Officials said the facilities typically receive a minimum number of visitors.

In addition, the village board plans to end teleconference meetings and return to in-person sessions, while not exceeding a limit of 10 people together and spreading them 6 feet apart in a room, Barrington Hills Village President Martin McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said there is a value to hearing from residents in person for public comment instead of through a teleconference or via email.

"It's really difficult to get the sense of what somebody's going through on a Zoom (video) call or a phone call," he said. "You can't really interact. And from board member to board member, it's really difficult to communicate as well. You're getting cut off mid-sentence. It's just not an appropriate way, in my opinion, to do public business from this point moving forward."

Village Attorney Mary Dickson told the elected officials at a meeting this week that municipal operations are considered essential by the state, so visitors are allowed if the state's conditions are followed. She said social distancing must be maintained by everyone in the building.

Trustee Brian Cecola said there are ways to limit attendance for a return to traditional village board meetings. For example, he said, the village treasurer and police chief could participate remotely.

"At least we can meet as a board and talk to each other face to face (instead of) this phone stuff, which is annoying," Cecola said.

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