Barrington Hills residents object to proposed fire station
Citing concerns about increased noise and traffic, several homeowners are opposing Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District's second attempt to build a new station.
Fire Chief James Kreher said the proposal is part of the district's longtime desire for a third station that would improve response times for residents in Inverness and nearby areas.
If built, the 10,000-square-foot station with two bays would be on about 5 acres at 1004 S. Hough St. in unincorporated Cook County. The facility would be just outside the Barrington and Barrington Hills village limits.
However, Barrington Hills resident Thomas McGrath said about 50 village residents -- representing nearly all homeowners living in the area immediately surrounding the site where the station would be built -- have signed a petition against the fire district's plan that will go before the Cook County Zoning Board of Appeals.
"The 24-hour operations with increased noise, emergency vehicle traffic and 24-hour lighting is absolutely out of place for a residential area," said McGrath, whose Hawthorne Road house is on the western border of where the fire district wants to build.
Before construction can occur, Barrington Countryside must start with an online public hearing before the zoning panel at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The district needs a special-use permit for the firehouse because the Hough Street land is zoned for single-family homes.
Kreher said the station would fit in the residential neighborhood and that additional noise or traffic would not be created because fire trucks and ambulances already travel through the area. He said the district has been looking for a suitable site since splitting from the village of Barrington Fire Department about 6½ years ago.
"We're not out there to make anybody mad or anything," Kreher said. "We want to serve all the residents. You have to put a firehouse somewhere. There is no magic spot. All the other firehouses in the area are in residential communities. This is no different. Right down the street is Motor Werks and all those places."
The district's tentative deal to buy the 5 acres hinges on whether the county grants the permit, Kreher said. The entire project could cost $3 million to $5 million -- an expense that concerns McGrath.
"There's a real, real question as to why they need this at all," McGrath said.
In March 2019, the county rejected the district's request for a special-use permit and zoning variances needed to build a new station on unincorporated land at 36 E. Dundee Road. That plan called for converting a vacant house into a station on an acre between Barrington Middle School-Prairie Campus and an early learning center.
Barrington Area Unit District 220 lodged a formal objection with Cook County, citing traffic concerns and the potential for reduced property values. The fire district called the county's rejection a setback for regional public safety.
At the new Hough Street site, the fire district would install a flashing light to warn drivers about exiting fire trucks or ambulances.
Barrington Countryside currently has two firehouses to cover its 48-square-mile territory. The district provides fire and emergency medical service to residents in portions of Barrington Hills, South Barrington, Lake Barrington and Inverness, as well as sections of unincorporated Cook, Lake and McHenry counties.