The ongoing saga over a proposed 137-home Red Seals development on the Mission Hills Golf Course was again a contentious topic at the Northbrook Board of Trustees meeting on April 14. During the open call for the audience, Karen Jump, a representative with the Mission Hills Openlands protection group, came forward to present a packet of information to the seven members of the board and asked for a full review of the project. Her stated goal is to overturn the final February approval made by the Cook County Board that dictates the future fate of the protected wetlands.
At issue is whether the County Board, led by Toni Preckwinkle, acted according to ethical standards during the proceedings, which the group alleged seemed to benefit several high-ranking officials. That includes Storm Water Chairman Tom Burke “who was hired by Red Seal to do peer reviews and testified for the company at the reviews, which to me is a big conflict of interest,” Jump said, making further comments about the “political” nature of the Cook County Board.
The community protest over Mission Hills largely relates to concerns over ongoing flooding issues and is being spearheaded by Susan Nelson, who previously made headlines for rallying residents to oppose a planned Walmart in the town in 2013. Though Nelson did not appear at the board meeting, Jump noted that together they would be presenting a formal petition in a matter of weeks. “We have more than 1,000 signatures that request a full review of the proposal to develop on the wetlands, and perform an unbiased review of all impacts before issuing a permit to Red Seal,” said Jump. “We ask that you examine to your ability what you can do to protect the people downstream from Mission Hills.”
Northbrook Village Attorney Steve Elrod took pause to clarify some of Jump’s comments. “This is a complicated issue of intergovernmental relations and two separate units of government of overlapping jurisdiction,” he said, “and I want to make sure we all understand that this plan is not coming back before Northbrook’s Zoning Board. Cook County’s review is the final action of Cook County and we will not be reopening or reviewing their decision. … What we do have is the ability for a limited review of the subdivision itself to ensure compliance with our subdivision codes, which includes storm management.”
It appears that the Red Seals development will be going ahead (the company is pre-selling homes), but not without a fight. Another group, the Mission Hills M&T Coalition, vows to take legal action by early May.
Also discussed during the board meeting were several town proclamations, including a day to recognize the plight of the Monarch Butterfly that migrates from Mexico to Canada every year, passing through Northbrook, and has seen its population dwindle due to the destruction of the milkweed plants where they lay eggs. A representative with the Northbrook Garden Club came forward to give a presentation and said that free milkweed plants would be provided at club headquarters and farmers’ markets this summer to help encourage the regrowth of the butterfly family, which was fully supported by all members.