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News and stuff about Lake Forest and Lake Bluff

Opinion: Vote Yes For Lake Bluff Park District Referendum

Editor’s note: This Reader Forum article was submitted by Gail Nielsen Gamrath (and family) of Lake Bluff. Reader Forum articles represent the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of GazeboNews. We encourage you to comment on this article, but please include your full name per the GazeboNews comments policy.

GazeboNews Reader Forum

Dear Lake Bluff Residents,

I have written before to local media about having the privilege of growing up in Lake Bluff. I feel so lucky to have had that experience. It was an easy choice for me and my husband, who also grew up here, to raise our own family in this wonderful village. The Park District was a large part of my childhood. Learning to swim at the pool, attending day camp and going to the beach was just the natural daily agenda for a LB kid. In 6th grade I was so proud when I received my first pay check from the Park District for being a highly skilled and assertive Tennis Court Monitor at Artesian Park for a pay rate of $1.60 per hour. Followed by ten summers working at the Pool, I gained many life skills learning the responsibility of holding a job and earning the respect of fellow residents. It was part of my young identity and to this day, I still run into other adults who I taught swim lessons to or who were on the swim team that I coached back when we had a booming 16-swimmer roster.

It is time once again to vote on a referendum to help fund the upkeep of not only the pool, but the beach and our parks. I feel this vote is different from the one which was voted down a few years back. With the help of over 600 residents, the Park District has prioritized what is really necessary to save some of our greatest resources from either shutting down or being taken away. We all know how great this town is and the Park District funds a large part of what makes it so special. Whether you are taking your grandkids to Artesian Park or needing to use the bathrooms at the beach (that currently some children are afraid to enter) these are resources that the Park District cannot fund within their current budget.

So the bottom line stands that Lake Bluff will lose some of our dearest assets if we do not look forward and act now. We cannot judge what people choose to spend their own money on but at $70 a year on a $450,000 house this seems like a no-brainer to me. It is an investment in our town. I hope you will join us in voting YES for our Pool, Parks and Beach.
Sincerely,

Gail Nielsen Gamrath (and family)



Opinion: Shorter Election Season Will Yield Better Candidates

Editor’s note: This Reader Forum article was submitted by A.J. Goldsmith of Lake Forest. Reader Forum articles represent the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of GazeboNews. We encourage you to comment on this article, but please include your full name per the GazeboNews comments policy.

 

GazeboNews Reader Forum

 

By A.J. Goldsmith

The Election season is much too long. Good people are being kept from running for public office by the expenses inherent in distressingly long campaigns.

My solution is that the General Election should be held no more than 30 days after the primary. This means that primaries for General Elections must be held just 30 days before the General Election. This change would require amending the Illinois Constitution.



Opinion: Lake Forest & Lake Bluff Should Have Banned Assault Weapons

Editor’s note: This Reader Forum article was submitted by Liz Radner, co-president of the League of Women Voters – Lake Forest/Lake Bluff area. Reader Forum articles represent the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of GazeboNews. We encourage you to comment on this article, but please include your full name per the GazeboNews comments policy.

GazeboNews Reader Forum

The League of Women Voters of Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Area was gratified to read that a US District Court found Highland Park’s ordinance banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines does not violate the Second Amendment and can be enforced.

The League testified, along with many other residents, before the Lake Forest City Council in the summer of 2013 urging such a ban here but was unsuccessful. The Lake Bluff Village Board similarly took no action.

The League agrees with the federal judge who found that such weapons have “the decidedly offensive purpose of quickly acquiring multiple targets and firing at those targets”

We believe assault weapons are for military use only and have no self-protection purpose in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff. State legislation now forbids enacting a ban.  The City Council and the Village Board should have banned assault weapons and high capacity magazines while the window was open.

Liz Bradner, Co-president
League of Women Voters Lake Forest/Lake Bluff



Support for Stonebridge: A Restaurant Owner’s Perspective

Editor’s note: This Reader Forum article was submitted by John des Rosiers, Chef/Proprietor of Inovasi, Wisma and The Other Door in Lake Bluff. Reader Forum articles represent the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of GazeboNews. We encourage you to comment on this article, but please include your full name per the GazeboNews comments policy.

GazeboNews Reader Forum

By John des Rosiers

As the Chef/Proprietor of three businesses in Lake Bluff I would like to take a moment to give my thoughts on the project under consideration at Stonebridge. I believe that the development is a positive addition to our community, as we rarely have the opportunity to welcome new citizens. Our residential land is limited and will not have the chance to expand, so this is a positive way for us to grow.

These homes will provide short-term jobs and economic revenue from the initial development, and the new residents will provide additional revenue from taxes and increased spending in our business community. Once approved, this project would continue the growth that Lake Bluff has seen over the past five years, and I believe that this project will contribute to an even greater and vibrant Village, restaurants, and every type of retailer we enjoy.

The Stonebridge project offers us greater tax revenues from both the standard real estate tax paid and also the increased local spending by the new residents.

I think the plan for the homes at Stonebridge is well thought-out and the best chance to develop the land. It is always vital for every community to find ways to grow, and this represents one of the rare opportunities we will have to add population.

It is my hope that you will pass the needed Village permits, etc. as I believe that this development should finally be allowed to move forward, and I look forward to welcoming these new citizens to our community.



Support For Stonebridge From A Longtime Resident

Editor’s note: This Reader Forum article was submitted by Cheri Richardson of Lake Bluff. Reader Forum articles represent the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of GazeboNews. We encourage you to comment on this article, but please include your full name per the GazeboNews comments policy.

GazeboNews Reader Forum

By Cheri Richardson

Since 1985, I’ve proudly called Lake Bluff home. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with, and serve, our Village in many ways—as a member of the Zoning Board and the Historic Preservation Commission, as a founding member of the Lake Bluff History Museum, and as a manager of the Lake Bluff Farmers Market. It is with that background and love for Lake Bluff that I am writing to show my support for the proposed Stonebridge development.

My love affair with Lake Bluff began in 1978, the year I attended my first Fireman’s Ball at the Harrison Conference Center with my future husband Ed, a Village lifer. Ed and I have a unique relationship with the Stonebridge property. Ed has fond memories of the property dating back as early as his childhood. In 1998, we moved across the street to the East Terrace, and in 2001, I took a job working at the Harrison Conference Center, which was located on the property.

At Harrison, I was hired to help this private conference center open to the public. At the time this was a very controversial issue, but after many long meetings with the Village Board, The Hilton Corporation was granted permission to run the property’s Manor House as a hotel, event site, and restaurant. Under Hilton, the Manor House provided Lake Bluff residents a gathering place for formal and informal events including weddings, Village parties, fundraisers, and The Fireman’s Ball.
The property thrived until Aramark took over the management in 2004. They neglected the property’s buildings, which, as a result, went into disrepair. Soon thereafter the property was sold and we all felt the loss. A piece of Lake Bluff’s history was gone.

Sadly, our Village has not been able to enjoy the Stonebridge property in its current state as a failed development. Since The Roanoke Group bought the property a few years ago, a lot has changed for the better. The woods are being restored, and I appreciate the flowers and shrubs that have been planted along Green Bay Road, which I drive past numerous times a day. Since the buckthorn has been removed, we can finally see the Manor House. It serves as a reminder that an important piece of Lake Bluff history still exists and we should try to save it.

I have seen the current plan for the Stonebridge development. It is a thoughtful approach that will include the restoration of both the Jens Jensen gardens, and the historic Manor House, which will be a great asset to our Village. I believe we are fortunate to have a developer like The Roanoke Group take the time and care over the past three years to not rush into a plan, as other developers have. I have heard the comments from the PCZBA and I think those recommendations have improved the proposed plan. It is great to have a developer that listens to the commissioner’s comments and actually makes the changes that have been requested. As a former commissioner I can attest that this is not always the case.

At one time, this was a magnificent piece of property: an estate designed by renowned architect Howard Van Doren Shaw, surrounded by a stunning Jens Jensen landscape. It will be wonderful to see the Jensen landscape restored, and hopefully the Manor House as well.

Every major change throughout the history of our little town has been controversial, but in the end, positive. That’s how it is when so many people care. The Stonebridge property has been empty and neglected much too long. We now have what I truly believe is a great plan. The future residents of this property will shop in the local stores, eat at the restaurants in town, and hopefully help ease our tax bills.

Please join me in talking to your friends and neighbors on the PCZBA and Village Boards to share your support for the approval of the Stonebridge development plan.
Sincerely,
Cheri Richardson



Stonebridge Does Not Comply With Lake Bluff’s Comprehensive Plan

Editor’s note: This Reader Forum article was submitted by Rick Lesser of Lake Bluff. Reader Forum articles represent the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of GazeboNews. We encourage you to comment on this article, but please include your full name per the GazeboNews comments policy.

 

GazeboNews Reader Forum

By Rick Lesser of Lake Bluff

The Lake Bluff Comprehensive Plan calls for transitional housing on the Stonebridge site and provides that for this site any development should be: “a compatible transition between the R-2 area to the north and the E-2 area to the south.”

Villages, like, Lake Bluff, are encouraged by state law to adopt a comprehensive plan both to promote harmonious development and to advise residents long in advance on the Village’s land use plans. Comprehensive plans, if followed, create a legal presumption: zoning changes which comply with the comprehensive plan are legally presumed valid. The housing to the south of the site has seven residences on about 70 acres. That’s 0.1 units/acre.

North of the Stonebridge site is the West Terrace, has 103 acres subdivided into 202 built lots; that’s 1.96 houses per acre. The average between the area to the South and the area to the North, if transitional, should be roughly 1.03 houses per acre. But the current Stonebridge developer (SB2011 LLC) is asking for 98 units on 45 acres, 2.18 houses per acre. That’s more than twice a “compatible transition.”

When you hear Stonebridge call its proposal a “pocket neighborhood”, what that means is that the development would be very different from the surrounding areas. That’s why it’s a “pocket”; because it’s starkly different.

Density matters for many reasons. Obviously, there would be much more traffic. Ninety-eight new houses means at least 200 new cars on Green Bay Road. SB2011 LLC hired the same traffic engineering consultant (KLOA) as the first developer had used. KLOA went to the then-operating Harrison Conference Center, found out when the facility was hosting an event, and then counted the cars going to the event. The consultant then compared that traffic to a nursing facility, and reported that the proposed new development would dramatically lower traffic. KLOA has no credibility.

High-density housing also impacts the housing values of the surrounding area. Despite SB2011’s pie-in-the-sky predicted sales prices, two bedroom cluster homes on 45 ft. lots are not really going to sell for more than the 3 to 5 bedroom houses on 75 ft. lots in the West Terrace.

The cluster homes will undercut prices. There is nothing transitional or compatible about this proposal. Neither the PC/ZBA nor the Village Board has any obligation to veer from the Comprehensive Plan for SB2011 LLC.

The Village is always on safe legal ground when it follows the comprehensive plan. This will require saying “no’. Sometimes, that’s the job of the PC/ZBA.

Hopefully, residents will come out to the Village Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 17 at 7:00 pm, to speak to the PC/ZBA. I know that we are all (except SB2011 and its paid spokespersons) tired of this issue. We are not getting paid to be there. But if you love this community and want to see our community remain a harmonious neighborhood, I hope you will join me in standing up for the Lake Bluff Comprehensive Plan.

Click on the following image to read more pages of the Lake Bluff Comprehensive Plan

 



45 Pembroke Drive, Lake Forest

Sponsored Post by Baird & Warner: “See it to Believe” Transitional home with touches of Nantucket, David Adler’s famous Glass spindles, arches and eyebrows. Spacious yard highlighted by specimen trees extending to the open view of Onwentsia’s 10th fairway. 1st floor master suite, beam vaulted library/family room, walk-out basement. Located on one of the most coveted cul-de-sac. Close to all.

To see this property in person, please contact Brunhild Baass or email her at brunhild.baass@bairdwarner.com. Equal housing opportunity

 

45 Pembroke Drive, Lake Forest

45 Pembroke Drive, Lake Forest

 



The Stonebridge Easement: No Parking in the Forest

Editor’s note: This Reader Forum article was submitted by Rick Lesser of Lake Bluff. Reader Forum articles represent the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of GazeboNews. We encourage you to comment on this article, but please include your full name per the GazeboNews comments policy.

GazeboNews Reader Forum

 

By Rick Lesser of Lake Bluff

The Stonebridge Conservation Easement

Now that Stonebridge is back before the Village seeking permission to construct 98 housing units on property zoned for 27 homes (a whopping 363% increase), we should note that Stonebridge’s obligation to maintain the 10 acre forest area on Green Bay Road is not a part of this process. There is no need to bargain over density to protect the forest; Stonebridge is already obligated to protect the forest whether they build ninety-eight houses or one.

On January 25, 2007, the first Stonebridge developer granted to an organization called “Stonebridge Conservation NFP” an easement over the 10.4 acre forested area along Green Bay Road (Lake County Recorder of Deeds Document No. 6126710). The easement expressly forbids construction of any buildings, structures, improvements, fences, lawns, parking lots or impervious surfaces within the easement.

The old Stonebridge developer dedicated the easement, but the easement also binds the new Stonebridge developer (“SB2011 LLC”). SB2011 LLC, is a Delaware limited liability company, which is, in turn, owned by two other companies: ADBAC Holdings, LLC and The Roanoke Group, LLC. SB2011 LLC now owns the property, but it must preserve the forest as open space forever. This was an obligation SB2011 assumed when it bought the property and was presumably factored into the cost.

SB2011 is required to maintain the area “in its natural, scenic and open space condition”. The obligation is not merely passive. The developer is required by the agreement to hire a professional forest manager and to promote natural plant and animal communities. It is required to remove invasive species. The obligation includes aerating the pond to maintain appropriate oxygen levels. The playground, which is oddly located several hundred feet west of Green Bay Road, must use only wood and metal materials; no plastics. Basketball, baseball, tennis and soccer fields are expressly forbidden.

 

Stonebridge forest; photo by Rick Lesser

Stonebridge forest; photo by Rick Lesser

The Easement Agreement provides a funding mechanism to pay for these obligations. The agreement imposed a Transfer Assessment when the developer sells each house of $1.25 per $1,000 on the initial sale. Then, when the first generation of buyers sell, and for all sales afterwards in perpetuity, the Transfer Assessment will be $2.50 per $1,000. The Easement Agreement also provides for an assessment of $295 each year, indexed for inflation, upon each home to pay for maintenance. The developer and then the homeowner’s association will hold the money and maintain the forest, but, each year, will pay 15% of the funds to Stonebridge Conservation NFP for “administration of the easement”. Stonebridge Conservation NFP is an Illinois not-for-profit corporation. Any unpaid assessments accrue interest at 18%. This will be a lot of money.

The agreement can be enforced not only by Stonebridge Conservation NFP, but also by any property owner within 500 feet of the property. If the developer or the eventual homeowners association violate the agreement, they will be liable not only for damages, but also for costs and attorney’s fees incurred to enforce the easement agreement.

These issues, at least, are off the table as we begin the next round of Stonebridge negotiations. When SB2011 talks about the public use of the Manor House, we should bear in mind that the public’s cars cannot be parked in the easement. The lack of parking is an obvious problem with the new, high-density plan, but the parking solution will not be found in the forest.

 

stonebridge_with_sign



When Will Women Get Equal Pay for Equal Work?

Editor’s note: This Reader Forum article was submitted by Stephanie Victor of Lake Forest. Reader Forum articles represent the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of GazeboNews. We encourage you to comment on this article, but please include your full name per the GazeboNews comments policy.

GazeboNews Reader Forum

By Stephanie Victor of Lake Forest

Equal Pay for Equal Work

Over eighty-five years after gaining the right to vote, women still face staggering wage discrimination in the workplace, making 77 cents to every dollar a man makes for the same work. In 1996, as one of only two female engineers working for the Midwest’s largest engineering firm, I discovered I was making 15% less than the guy next to me. He had a technical certificate from a community college, only did office retrofits, and never wore a suit. I guess the rationale was, he did have a family to feed while I had a husband.

Pay equity is more important than ever. Many of us live in homes with two working-parents or have daughters who do. At a time when our families are being squeezed and when every dollar matters, why do women not deserve the same rights as men in the workplace when we contribute to our households just the same?

In April, our own Senator Mark Kirk voted to block debate on the Paycheck Fairness Act and House Republicans won’t even bring it up for a vote. Bob Dold voted seven times against women.

While we may not yet have equality at the workplace, we do have equality in the ballot box and should be exercising that right come November. I encourage everyone to either vote by mail, early vote or come out on election day. When women succeed, America succeeds!



Whole Foods Still In Play In Lake Forest

Editor’s note: This Reader Forum article was submitted by Rommy Lopat of Lake Forest and was originally submitted as a comment on a previous GazeboNews article. Reader Forum articles represent the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of GazeboNews. We encourage you to comment on this article, but please include your full name per the GazeboNews comments policy.

Also, GazeboNews checked with Community Development Director Catherine Czerniak, who confirmed that Whole Foods is indeed still a possibility in Lake Forest; the city has not received a written withdrawal from the Shiner Group.

 

 

GazeboNews Reader Forum

 

By Rommy Lopat of Lake Forest

An update to the Whole Foods issue in Lake Forest: At the July 31 Lake Forest Plan Commission meeting, Community Development Director Cathy Czerniak stated that the “Conway Market/Whole Foods” shopping center is an “active petition” for two reasons: one, the City Council only proffered advice to the developer but did not vote and 2) the developer has not officially withdrawn. In fact, Czerniak said the developer is “in discussions”. She did not say with whom.

Having watched this process over many months, I continue to regret the City’s handling of the situation. Allowing any developer or property owner to contemplate the demolition of a landmarked house and clear cutting of 400 trees is unconscionable, not to mention cramming so much building onto a way too small space. (Imagine a Whole Foods, four single-story 6000 sq ft homes, and a 350 car parking lot in a space the exact size of Forest Park!).

The planning process is woefully inadequate. The Route 60 Corridor’s Comprehensive Plan needs updating, and the City Council needs to be apprised of what is in the plan. All of our “gateways” look sorrowful (thistles, weeds, buckthorn, construction debris) and need attention, but this one is arguably the most important to preserve in its greenness.

The Special Use that allowed an office building on the Whole Foods site should have been revoked long ago. (imagine if you got a permit to build a new house and garage. You build the house but not the garage, then sell the property, all of which happens years after the permit was granted. The new homeowner would have to get a new permit to build the garage, but in this case, the landowner apparently does not have to start from scratch. Why?) The problem is that the traffic and other studies compare the shopping center to an office center rather than to existing conditions, skewing the results significantly.

And needless to say, having two Plan Commissioners recuse themselves, making a quorum tougher to obtain, for the duration of the process is not fair to developer or public: a full panel of opinions is needed. And the Plan Commission has no one on it that is familiar with landscape or sustainability techniques (which would include keeping all stormwater on site as per LEED building standards).

Much needs to be and can be improved before this petition sees the light of day. Again.