Mayoral candidates address bid to remove 395 acres from Hoffman Estates
A lawsuit seeking to de-annex about 395 acres from the west side of Hoffman Estates is sparking debate among candidates in the village's mayoral race.
Before shifting its focus to Schaumburg, Alsip-based Experior Transport first looked to the west side of Beverly Road at Higgins Road in Hoffman Estates as a potential site for its new headquarters. The trucking firm's proposal would have placed the facility near the Sears corporate campus and Adesa Chicago wholesale auto auction.
However, village leaders rejected the proposal, leading the land's owners to file suit this month asking a court to remove the site from Hoffman Estates and make it part of unincorporated Cook and Kane counties.
Mike Origer, whose family has owned the land since the 1960s, said the Experior proposal is just the latest development proposal the village has denied over the years, including previous plans for a multifamily housing development.
Mayor Bill McLeod said he stands by the decision, while challenger and former Hoffman Estates police lieutenant Mark Mueller said the site would be ideal for the proposed use.
The village's rejection of the proposal now has it facing the possibility of losing its largest piece of undeveloped property, Mueller said. And it is an example of village leadership being less business-friendly than it should, he said.
"I feel that the role of a mayor is to be an ambassador," Mueller said.
McLeod cited wear and tear on Beverly Road from increased truck traffic, as well as the potential of further residential development in the area, as reasons to turn down Experior.
"I think that's ludicrous to say we're not business-friendly," McLeod said. "But neither do we roll over and play dead for developers. That's not our job either. ... My job is to do what I think is in the best interests of the residents of Hoffman Estates. I still think I made the right decision."
Mueller said he lives not far from the site and none of his neighbors have told him they would have objected to Experior Transport's headquarters on the site. He added that he doesn't believe the project would have made a difference to the number of trucks using nearby roads.
Nicholas Waryas, the third candidate in the mayoral race, declined to comment.
Origer said the land includes filled-in former quarries, which presents challenges to redevelopment. But the property could have accommodated a proposal like Experior's, he said.
Hoffman Estates Corporate Counsel Art Janura said the main challenge faced by development of filled-in quarries is that the land can settle and damage utilities and other things deep under the surface.
Though the lawsuit seeks disconnection, the village has a boundary agreement with East Dundee that would give Hoffman Estates right of first refusal to reannex Origer's property for years to come, Janura said.
While remaining in unincorporated Cook County would free the land from Hoffman Estates' building codes and sprinkler requirement, utilities could only be provided by the village. Most development projects seek these out, as well as the closer police and fire protection a municipality can provide, Janura added.
"The village might be in a better position," Janura said of a potential disconnection. "I see very little downside on the part of the village."
Election Day is Tuesday, April 6.