The Mission Hills/Red Seal project was again the subject of much contention at the latest Northbrook Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, April 28 during which a line of dissenters gathered to provide commentary and supporting documents against the new 137-home development that is set to break ground on the area’s golf course.
Both Village Attorney Steve Elrod and Board President Sandra Frum reiterated to the group that the Village Board could do nothing to reverse the decision of the Cook County Board that, in February, passed a measure allowing for the project, which sits on unincorporated land.
“There seems to be some confusion and I want to remind all here that the Cook County Board approved the zoning for the Mission Hills development with a majority vote. That was a final action. This board sitting here cannot rehear that zoning case. We are not an appellate body, Cook County stands alone in making zoning decisions for properties located in unincorporated areas,” said Elrod, also reminding the room that Northbrook does have a limited role in policing the subdivision codes for the property including engineering matters, public improvements and park impacts. “We have received the subdivision application from Red Seal and we intend to follow that process.”
Elrod further noted that the application is currently processing at the staff level with a review underway. Once completed, it will be followed by a public meeting before the plan commission and a final action at the Village Board level where the public will again be invited to speak.
Though Frum encouraged the speakers in the room to hold their comments until those dates (which would be made public through mailers), she did allow a 20-minute portion of the April 28th meeting to be devoted to a platform for their opinions.
Susan Nelson, a resident who is at the forefront of the movement and previously made headlines for rallying residents to oppose a planned Walmart in the town in 2013, spoke first.
“I have gathered 1,550 signatures of incorporated Northbrook residents over a 10-day period,” she said of a petition she submitted to the Board that also included another 1,000 signatures collected in the weeks prior, a figure that she said amounted to 10% of the town’s population. “Folks are livid that you Trustees and the Board President don’t follow your own comprehensive plans to the letter of the law and are selling off lands to the highest bidder with no regard to the intrinsic value. Where is your sense of ethics, restraint and stewardship? There are inconsistencies in your plans for distributing twigs and seeds to grow trees in the Village but here you are chopping them down for a development.”
Karen Jump, a representative with the Mission Hills Openlands protection group, had acquired a map from the Northbrook Historical Society to prove her argument about the risk of flooding that would endanger the area when the homes are built. “This is from the year 1840 when the Mission Hills area was swampy wetlands,” she said. “We already have all the water from the Toll Road draining here. There really are raging rivers and water will course here again with this development.” She also argued whose responsibility it would be to solve flooding problems since the Village of Northbrook is adjacent to the Mission Hills property.
Another Mission Hills resident, Marcia Markow, supplied photos she took after a bad rainfall this month. “I’m standing in what looks like a lake.”
No representatives with Red Seal were present at the meeting.
Frum said the next official public hearing on the matter would come in June at the earliest and would likely be held offsite at a place such as the Northbrook Library auditorium to provide more room for the expected crowds.