How Hoffman Estates trustee candidates view the disconnection of over 200 western acres
The recent loss of more than 215 acres from the west side of Hoffman Estates -- including the entirety of the village's foothold in Kane County -- has led the four candidates seeking three trustee seats on the village board to debate the impact on potential development.
Retired Hoffman Estates police lieutenant Mark Mueller is challenging the reelection bids of Anna Newell, Gary Pilafas and Gary Stanton.
As he did during his 2021 mayoral campaign when a disconnection lawsuit for 395 acres was first filed, Mueller is characterizing the loss of the land as a failure of village leadership to work with landowners and developers for their mutual benefit.
Some of that land owned by the Plote and Origer families -- more than 175 acres in Cook County and all 40 acres of Hoffman Estates in Kane County -- was officially disconnected earlier this year. The land is currently unincorporated.
Mueller said the loss is the result of the land owners' frustration with the village's lack of cooperation with development proposals.
He cited examples ranging from a 1999 plan for 2,400 multifamily housing units, a mix of commercial buildings and a golf course to Alsip-based Experior Transport's more recent proposal for its new trucking headquarters, now being built in the southwest corner of Schaumburg.
"Who knows what the possibilities were over there?" Mueller said. "Who's accountable for this? Our village board is accountable for that land going. ... Our village board has been very reactionary about a lot of different projects."
Mueller said he believes future proposals will be presented to East Dundee, which is west of the land, where they might be better received.
Hoffman Estates Corporate Counsel Art Janura said the village and East Dundee are not on equal footing for the future development of the disconnected land, due in part to a boundary agreement that gives Hoffman Estates right of first refusal to reannex it for years to come.
Pilafas said a practical reason for the disconnection is that it frees the land from one taxing body and saves the owners money in the absence of a viable development proposal. But he believes Hoffman Estates is still in a better position than East Dundee to provide the sewer and water utilities needed for a future development.
He added a significant part of that western land is the large hole of a quarry where the development potential and requirements are significantly different.
But Pilafas said he could see either a multifamily housing development or an industrial use being built out west eventually. However, until a quality plan is presented, he said his concentration is better spent on the areas of the village where such plans are pending.
He added that Hoffman Estates continues to contract services from Plote Construction and that there has been no disruption to that professional relationship.
"It's not lost potential," Stanton agreed. "Where else are they going to get the sewer and water but from Hoffman Estates?"
Newell said proposals of the past have not worked out for various reasons, but she's confident that even those that occurred before her time on the board were turned down for sound reasons.
"I'm with the rest of the board," Newell said. "We've done the best we could. It's still there. If things change in the future, that's the way it will be."
Election Day is April 4.