Crowd heckles Dimucci mall project
Zoning board hears landowners' case
One week after the Lake County Regional Plan Commission rejected the Dimucci family's request to have land they own near Hawthorn Woods rezoned to allow the construction of a shopping center, the siblings brought their case to a new panel Wednesday.
This time it was the county's zoning board of appeals, which, like the plan commission, advises the county board. And it's the county board that will have the final say on whether the Dimuccis will be able to pursue a commercial developer for the 109 acres they own at the corner of Route 12 and Old McHenry Road in an unincorporated area of Ela Township.
In a formal public hearing at Concorde Banquets in Kildeer, brothers John and Mike Dimucci and sister Cara Mueller pleaded their case and told the zoning board about the history of the site and their desire to turn a portion of the land into a shopping center.
They also talked about the existing agreement between the nearby villages of North Barrington and Hawthorn Woods concerning the potential development of the site, which Mike Dimucci called "convoluted."
"We are here before Lake County in hopes of finding more fair treatment," John Dimucci said.
The meeting -- attended by about 200 people, most of whom opposed the plan -- didn't get off to a strong start.
Just minutes after Chairman George Bell Jr. gaveled the session to order, a series of attorneys approached the dais and objected to rule changes for the discussion and the presence of one zoning board member, Marvin Raymond, who also leads the Regional Plan Commission and voted in favor of the plan last week.
Bell responded gruffly to the objections and the applause that followed each speaker, telling the crowd: "I don't want to hear it. I know where everybody stands."
Bell rejected requests to postpone the hearing and to remove Raymond from the panel, saying state law allows someone to serve on both boards simultaneously.
In addition to the Dimuccis, an attorney and consultants representing their cause spoke to the zoning board about aspects of the plan Wednesday. They talked for nearly three hours and were occasionally heckled by the crowd.
Board members asked a few questions, but the board took no action. The panel will discuss the matter again Wednesday and take questions from the public then.
Regardless of how or when the zoning board advises the county board, Lake County Planning Director Eric Waggoner said it could be years before the county board approves a final plan for the site if the proposal progresses.