County Board OKs plan for Dimucci property
Updated: November 11, 2012 6:18AM
The controversial proposal to transform the 109-acre Dimucci family property at Route 12 and Old McHenry Road into a retail sector moved forward Tuesday after the Lake County Board voted unanimously to rezone the parcel and issue a conditional-use permit for commercial development.
Board member Bonnie Thompson Carter of Ingleside, chair of the planning, building and zoning committee, began a 90-minute discussion of the proposal by saying that “we have never put this much effort before in finding the right balance between the rights of the property owner and the concerns of the surrounding communities.”
“The project concept has improved dramatically from the initial proposal that we began reviewing back in February,” Carter said. “It’s really important that everyone understand how far we’ve come in making sure that the development of this property is compatible with the surrounding area while simultaneously accommodating a reasonable use of the Dimucci family’s property.”
But more than a half-dozen opponents of the project who lined up to address the board prior to the vote expressed their continuing disappointment.
“If this property is rezoned commercial, myself and several property owners in this area will be seeking legal action to recover damage to the value of our property,” said Jeff Sabitt of Hawthorn Woods, who lives across Old McHenry Road from the Dimucci land. “It’ll damage the value to my property and it will damage the character of the entire area.”
While initial concepts for the Dimucci development envisioned 800,000 square feet of commercial development, the version approved Tuesday calls for no more than 650,000 square feet of total floor area, with no more than 450,000 for designated for retail. Half of the property is reserved for open space.
Also, a set of amendments to the conditional-use permit calls for no video gaming on property, a water supply drawn from a deep water aquifer, additional landscape buffering for any parking structure facing residential properties in Hawthorn Woods, and a change-of-use permit requirement for all new businesses to ensure they all meet development standards.
Despite the reduction in square footage, Lake Zurich resident Harry McCartney, a volunteer for Active Citizens for Responsible Expansion, said that while the group is “not anti-development, nor opposed to reasonable commercial development on this very property, our expert testimony showed the known area-wide negative impacts of a development of this size.”
“All we’re simply saying is that this is not about what the buildings will look like, or about water fountains and pedestrian walkways. This is about the size,” added McCartney, saying that the “so-called compromise” of 650,000 square feet “would cause areawide impacts, many that haven’t been addressed at all.”
Responding to such comments, board member Stevenson Mountsier of Barrington said “we’re not approving something that we don’t have all the answers to,” saying the review process on a specific developer’s plan could take three to five years.
“I just want to remind everyone that if this plan is approved today, it does not go into effect until a final building plan has been submitted,” Mountsier added. “The final building plan will address all of these concerns ... We’re not ignoring these concerns. They are very, very important. They will be addressed.”
Carter said she felt the process “listened very closely” to public input, and the end result will both protect surrounding properties and “increase Lake County’s inventory of shovel-ready sites.”
“Let’s not forget the significant enhancement this will provide to the tax base across units of local governments, from the retail tax sharing side to the property tax side,” Carter said, adding that the new revenue will be a “particular benefit to the local schools, the fire protection district and other local taxing districts.”
An intergovernmental agreement, also approved by unanimous board vote, establishes a retail sales-tax sharing agreement between the county, Hawthorn Woods and North Barrington.